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Happy New Year!

This month’s article is aimed at the youth of Good Shepherd and what they can to do to help care for creation. However, there is no reason all of us can’t practice these activities every day.

It’s that time of year when we think of changes we want to make or things we want to improve on in 2019. As a young person you may say what can I do? You can do a lot every day.

  • Save water:  Take shorter showers and turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  • Straws: When you visit your favorite restaurant tell them no straw or ask do you have a paper straw?
  • Bottled water: Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste. Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, when you are playing sports or traveling.
  • Litter: Look around. If you see litter on the ground pick it up and put it in the trash can.
  • Borrow instead of buying:  Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.

These are just a few things that young and old alike can do every day to care for creation.

Watch this section over the next few months for more fun things we can all do.

Eco-Friendly Holiday Dinners

It’s that time of year again when families gather for delicious meals with one another over the holidays.  The Caring for Creation Team encourages you to try some of the tips below for an eco-friendlier holiday dinner.

  1. Plan your menu. Check to see what you already have in stock and only buy what you actually need.
  2. Buy in bulk what you can. Shop locally and try to use what’s in season with your dishes.
  3. While shopping, use reusable shopping bags (especially our fabulous Good Shepherd shopping bags). Try cotton or muslin bags for produce and skip the plastic altogether at the grocery store.
  4. Borrow items you may need from friends or family instead of buying new.
  5. In the kitchen, skip the foil pans and use real cookware. Replace parchment paper and aluminum foil with silicone baking sheets.
  6. For hand-washing and clean up, use kitchen towels or huck towels instead of paper towels.
  7. For decorations, use natural items like leaves, greenery and flowers.
  8. Use cloth napkins, real dinnerware and silverware instead of disposables at the dinner table.
  9. Invite guests to bring their own to-go containers.
  10. Store any leftover food in glass containers instead of using throwaways.
  11. Save scraps for stock (like soups) or toss into your compost pile.
  12. Recycle as much as you can whether it be packaging or food.

Sustainable Seafood: Eating for a Healthy Planet

 Wild fish populations are declining dramatically due to overfishing, lack of effective management, and over-consumption of various species. However, consumers can help sustain ocean life and reduce the pressure on over-harvested species by making wise choices concerning their eating habits. To assist in this effort, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has an educational program called Seafood Watch to help consumers make the best choices for the environment and for fish populations: www.seafoodwatch.org.

 The Seafood Watch website classifies seafood into three categories: best choices (fish that is well managed and caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife), good alternatives (be aware that there are concerns with how the fish are caught or farmed), and seafood to avoid (species that are overfished or caught or farmed in ways that are detrimental to marine life or the environment). You can also search by name to see how a particular fish ranks. Download the Seafood Watch app for Android or iPhone so you will be fully prepared when you shop at the grocery store or eat out.

Those Ubiquitous Plastic Bags!

 Plastic bags, films, and wrappers are everywhere! But you can do your part to keep them out of the landfill – where they do not biodegrade. Think of the three R’s of environmental stewardship: reduce, reuse, recycle.

REDUCE: To reduce your use of plastic bags, carry your own Good Shepherd reusable tote bag (or similar bag) to stores when you shop.

REUSE: If you do find yourself with an abundance of plastic bags, you can often find ways to reuse them either at the grocery store, as trashcan liners, or to collect your kitchen scraps to take to your compost bin.

RECYCLE: Publix supermarkets offer bins for recycling of various items at their stores. They will take any brand of plastic shopping bags, as well as plastic sleeves from dry cleaning and newspapers, bread and bun bags, and even the outer plastic packaging from such items as toilet tissue, paper towels, napkins, etc. All items should be clean and dry. In separate bins, Publix collects paper bags and Styrofoam meat trays and egg cartons.

Skip The Straw

Estimates vary, but millions of single-use straws and plastic stirrers are used every day, and they become trash that doesn’t biodegrade. Many end up in landfills, and they are among the top ten items of trash that are collected during the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

Several corporations, including Starbucks, Marriott International, and American Airlines have announced that they will stop the use of plastic straws and stirrers. Do your part too, simply tell your restaurant server that you don’t want a straw with your drink, be sure to do so before the straw is put on the table because in many cases, for health reasons, once a straw is on the table, it can only be discarded – even if it is not used.

If you do want to use a straw, consider bringing your own. Stainless steel straws are becoming increasingly popular, so you can skip the plastic version altogether.