Reflecting on Luadato Si
I remember reading Luadato Si in 2015 when it first came out. I was incredibly moved by every word. However, there was one term that stuck in my mind and the Holy Spirit just kept whispering the same 2 words to me. The term was throwaway culture. It appears 5 times within the encyclical, but in two major parts. The first is in regards to climate change.
I. POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Pollution, waste and the throwaway culture
22. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.
Eventually the spirit revealed to me that I could make changes in my life to my throwaway culture. I needed Lent to do so, but I could definitely do it. The second place that it appears is in section 4, regarding how the have a throwaway culture towards people. To me this plucked my heart strings harder.
IV. DECLINE IN THE QUALITY OF HUMAN LIFE AND THE BREAKDOWN OF SOCIETY
43. Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.
Luadato Si was never just about the environment. If it was, it wouldn't be Catholic. It was always about people. But is makes the connection between the two so clear. If we don't care for the environment in any way that we can, there is no way that we can care for our most vulnerable.
In my journey, I have reflected just as much about how to have a non-throwaway culture towards people as I have towards the environment.