Care For the Environment

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World Environment Day – the Call and the Challenge

by Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican


In early June, we celebrated World Environment Day 2013.

Several years ago, the United Nations established the event to call attention to and urge involvement in caring for our environment and to focus on world hunger and its devastating effects on the whole human family. The theme chosen for this year is ‘THINK, EAT, SAVE.” The focus is on food consumption patterns and wastage and calls our attention on the need to seriously address hunger in our world, food waste, food loss  and our consumption patterns, and to find ways to address our carbon footprints”.

The UN lays out the issues and helps people realize it is everyone’s responsibility to become engaged in finding a solution. People can be enabled to be agents of change for sustainable and equitable development for all people.

The United Nations study tells us that “one in every seven children in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die daily from hunger.” We cannot allow this to continue or we will all be responsible. We are also reminded about the amount of food that is wasted and it is mind-boggling. For a long time we have been reminded of the need to reduce, reuse, recycle. What are some of the ways we can do this?

All over the world, many people are suffering from obesity and need to eat less and eat healthier food. They need to find ways not to waste food and look at how  leftovers can be used.   Throwing food away is like stealing food from children dying of hunger. All are encouraged to create a simpler lifestyle and use healthy foods for families.

Pope Francis gave a very strong message for World Environment Day and urged all people to get involved in solving the problem of hunger both nationally and globally.  He said” When a person dies it is not a big news story, but a ten point drop in the stock market is a tragedy. So people are discarded as if they were trash. ..Human life is no longer perceived as the primary value to respect and protect, especially if they are poor or disabled, or if they are no longer needed or useful. We have become insensitive to waste, including food waste. This is reprehensible when in every part of the world, unfortunately, many people and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Gandhi once said: “We have enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.” When we share food with care and compassion, none need to die of hunger.  Pope Francis calls each of us to take the theme “THINK, EAT. SAVE, by reducing our carbon footprints and ensure that the world becomes for all, more equitable, more just and more human.  

What can we do to address the issue of hunger and poverty in our time and place?

  • -Individuals and families can choose to live a simpler lifestyle by eating healthy and appropriate foods. Join with other groups and share new ideas and practices. Involve churches and other civic groups to get involved in the solution. Help children and youth to learn about the issue.

  • -Urge legislators and the President to address global poverty and to convert some of the money used for wars to address human needs. All of us are called to responsible stewardship and each one of us can contribute to the solution.

  • -Preach on the issue from the pulpit as a moral issue. The Pope said that the culture of waste is deplorable, given the vast amount of hunger in our world. The United Nations says hunger affects some 870 million people, while a billion suffer from at least one nutritional deficiency.

  • -Write a commentary for the local newspaper on this issue and encourage people to get involved.

Human suffering is often ignored, said the Pope, while financial market drops are considered a tragedy. In our industrial world, the majority of waste is by consumers, who often buy too much and throw the rest away. People need to select what they buy and use with purpose. Foods that have less of an environmental impact and choosing foods that are gown locally means foods that do not have to be transported across the country, this limits emissions that are destructive to the environment.

For further information on this topic, Google World Environmental Day 2013.

For the full statement made by Pope Francis go to  You can also go to for more on the Pope’s comments. We are invited to share information on World Environment Day with as many individuals and groups as possible and urge them to be part of the solution.  Let us begin today with courage, conviction and hope. No response is too small to make a difference. It will take courage to face the facts about world hunger and related issues and then do something about it. 


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