Download the PDF.
Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Summary: Jesus’ temptation in the desert reminds us that Jesus, too. was called to discern his relationship with the world around him. His choice was clear: to respect all creation, to seek the common good over personal satisfaction.
May our Lenten practice strengthen us in this same choice to become RESPONSIBLE CONSUMERS AND PRODUCERS.
Reflection question: What change can you make in your life this week to be a more responsible consumer or producer?
Every choice we make as a consumer has an impact on the environment and on society. When we choose something because it is environmentally friendly or socially just, we make it easier for more such products and services to be developed in the future.
- Economic growth and development require the production of goods and services that improve the quality of life. Sustainable growth and development require minimizing the natural resources and toxic materials used, and the waste and pollutants generated, throughout the entire production and consumption process.
- Decoupling economic growth from resource use is one of the most critical and complex challenges facing humanity today.
- Only 3 percent of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), and humans are using it faster than nature can replenish it.
- For all types of materials, developed countries have at least double the per capita footprint of developing countries. In particular, the material footprint for fossil fuels is more than four times higher for developed than developing countries.
- The agricultural industry is the biggest user of water worldwide. Irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater for human use.
- The food sector accounts for around 22 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, largely from the conversion of forests into farmland.
- Shopping is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
- To guide one’s choices, use the 4R's (reduce, reuse, recycle and recover).
An Excerpt from The Good Life From A Catholic Perspective: The Challenge of Consumption by Monsignor Charles Murphy, author of several books including At Home on Earth: Foundations for a Catholic Ethic of the Environment (New York: Crossroad, 1989).
"Christianity is not about feeding yourself. Christianity begins with what people do with the leftovers." So spoke Professor Megan McKenna, whose field is social ethics, alluding to the biblical miracle of the sharing of the loaves and the admonition that the leftover fragments be gathered (Mt 14:20).
Faces fell. A certain religious complacency was pierced, giving way to a degree of consciousness-raising. It is startling to be told, in a culture as wasteful as ours, that Christianity begins with what we do with our leftovers. Just visit a typical school lunch program and see the mounds of garbage. "Waste not, want not" means little to children brought up to believe that if something does not meet your taste or adhere to the current fashion, toss it.
"A familiar statistic in this context begins to ring true: The industrialized countries, with only one-fifth of the world's population, consume two-thirds of the world's resources and generate 75 percent of all the pollution and waste products. The disparities between human beings who live in squalor and those who have everything money can buy are glaring in a world brought closer together through amazing advances in communication. This great disparity denies social justice, leads to ecological tragedy, and most of all creates a misperception of what the good life really is, which ultimately makes excessive consumption a religious question.
"What and how much we consume manifest our conception of who we are and why we exist. The spiritual and cultural impoverishment that are the natural by-products of consumerism are evident everywhere….
How can our Catholic faith help us to find a more satisfying life for ourselves and at the same time make us more socially responsible in achieving it? I suggest three ways:
- the cultivation of the natural virtue of temperance;
- the gospel admonitions about the dangers of over-consumption and the fundamental requirement of love of neighbor;
- and, finally, the recent social teachings of the Church based upon the order of nature and the higher demands of gospel living.
O Creator of all living things, we are all hungry in a world full of abundance. The possibilities of food for bodies and souls overflow in this beautiful world. We ask for the grace to see the abundance of our world and enough awareness to acknowledge our sins of greed and fear.
Give us openness of soul and courageous, willing hearts to be with our sisters and brothers who are hungry and in pain. We ask for your intercession on behalf of every person hungry for earthly food and hungry for the taste of the Spirit of God. We give thanks that we can be part of that intercession. We come together in awe and wonder at the Creator who loves us so much that we are invited and urged to be co-creators with God in the care of our brothers and sisters. In the name of our tender God of all people who hears every cry, Amen.