Assumption Church

 Laudato Si' and Me

Pope Francis, through his encyclical Laudato si’, encourages us to care for God’s creation, our common home. Laudato si’ integrates ecological aspects of the environment, the economy, our society, our culture, our daily life, the common good and justice between generations.

Practical ideas for how every individual may contribute to the goals of Laudato si’ were posted here with the hope that you will choose to implement one or more steps that you are not already doing, steps that will work well for you over the long term. Each new entry includes links for details about how you can help.

Here is a trove of material from May, 2020 when we celebrated Earth Day. It includes links to the Laudato si' letter, a video by Fr. Pawlikowski, and links to a number of related discussions.

Money Matters    ...Click for More 3/9/2023

No, our money does not grow on trees!

But how we manage it can have a big impact on our Common Home.

(not just on the trees)

...More Alternatives Here

1. How we earn it

Businesses with a socially responsible approach strive to improve their communities and the environment while maintaining their profitability goals. If your employer has a socially responsible component to its mission statement and business plan, embrace it, practice it and spread the word among your colleagues. If your employer does not have such a component, advocate up the chain of command to initiate one.

2. How we save and invest it

Similarly, do the financial institutions you use have a socially responsible component to their mission statements and business plans? Does your financial advisor know about your socially responsible commitment and help it shine in your investment choices?

3. How we spend it

Every dollar we spend has an environmental impact. Many of the previous Laudato Si & Me themes offered ways to spend our money in eco-friendly ways. Please review past themes to refresh your approach to spending on products and services.

4. How we donate it

Being environmentally philanthropic means more than giving to ecology focussed organizations. It also means vetting all the charities you donate to for their environmental policies. Call the charity and ask to speak to their Chief Environmental Officer to gather information.

5. How we vote it

Do the candidates you support advocate for saving the world with their policy proposals and budgets… and then carry out their proposals?

Hobbies and Leisure Activities    ...Click for More 2/15/2023

The hobbies you pursue and the ways you spend your leisure time can matter.

  • Is material consumed?
  • Is Transportation required?
  • Do you leave more than just footprints behind? 

Here are some interests or activities you might consider:

Experience the beauty and joy of cultivating indoor plants or an outdoor garden. No space for a garden? Join or start a community garden. Include a rain collection barrel in the design to water plants.
Enjoy nature by joining or starting a bird watching club or tree identification club.
Enjoy and support outdoor activities that are both fun and educational, such as the North Park Village Nature Center, Jackson Park’s Japanese Garden, the Morton Arboretum, the many opportunities offered by the county forest preserves, etc.
Take advantage of the Chicago Public Library for the books you want to read but don’t need to stock on your shelves. The library has almost everything you can imagine either as hardcopy or ebooks. And it's all free!!
And do you know about the Chicago Tool Library? It has all the equipment you need for your hobbies or home repairs.
Carrying out from your favorite restaurant? Ask that your order include only recyclable bags, containers, straws and utensils. Cooking for yourself? Be sure to buy fresh and local as much as possible.
Volunteer with an environmental organization, such as a park, beach or river “clean-up” group or look into becoming a green activist relating to an aspect of the environment that you are passionate about.
Ask your building to put bee hives on the roof and volunteer to help maintain them.
Use recycled and recyclable materials in your creative craft projects and “upcycle” by using materials that would typically be discarded.

Vacation Planning    ...Click for More 1/13/2023

Planning a Vacation - 

What to do - Where to do it - How to get there

  • Stay close to home or plan a low carbon footprint transportation method to your destination.
  • Research your destination for its ecological impact initiatives.
  • Join a group of like-minded travelers to share efforts and ideas as you plan your next trip.
  • Make nature and the outdoors a big part of your vacation plans.
  • Take advantage of all that our National Park Service has to offer.

Click for more


Paper and Packaging    ...Click for More 12/15/2022

Paper in Product and Packaging

We hear a lot about recycling cardboard and other packaging. But what about everyday household activities? What are we leaving behind when we're done?

  • Reduce paper catalogs and junk mail by contacting the senders to opt out.
  • Buy products that use less packaging and/or that use only recycled or recyclable packaging.
  • Preview documents before printing and print only what you really need as hardcopy.
  • Always print on both sides of copy paper or find a different use for the clean reverse side of documents that are no longer relevant.
  • Use scrap paper as “handmade” post-it notes for reminders, shopping lists, love notes, etc.
  • Reuse paper gift bags from gifts you’ve received as shopping bags.
  • Reuse corrugated delivery boxes to mail packages (the boxes can easily be turned inside out so stray labels don’t become a problem); to store items; or to pack when it comes time to move.  Always recycle any boxes that cannot be reused.
  • When baking, use a silicone mat or biodegradable parchment paper.
  • Replace disposable paper towels and single use napkins with reusable cloths and “real” napkins.
  • Paper may be recycled several times so even if you use recycled paper, recycle it again!
Home for the Holidays    ...Click for More 11/16/2022

The holiday season offers opportunities to show off our creative talents in preparing decorations, arranging celebrations and hosting gatherings.

There are many ways you can support our common home without compromising your creativity.

  • Use cards and gift wrap that are made from recycled material and/or are themselves recyclable.  Especially avoid cards and wrap that have glitter or foil and metallic embellishments, as these render the paper non-recyclable.
  • Use biodegradable glitter in your hand-made holiday crafts.  Yes, there is such a thing!
  • Use natural decorations.  Pumpkins, gourds, hay, etc. for Thanksgiving.  Pine tree sprigs, holly branches, pine cones, etc. for Christmas.  Then compost or mulch them after the holiday.
  • If you decorate with a real tree, explore two options for after Christmas: 1) buy a tree with a root ball and then plant it in your or a neighbor’s yard or a nearby park or 2) avail yourself of the Chicago Park District’s tree recycling/mulching program.
  • Plan your menu around in-season and locally farmed ingredients.  Send guests home with leftovers in reusable containers.
  • Look for recycled aluminum foil for preparation of your holiday meals.  Tent the bird in a eco-friendly way!
  • Decorate with smaller light displays, use LED lights and turn off the display at bedtime.
  • Shop for locally crafted gifts and gifts made from recycled materials.
  • Take your guests on a nature walk before or after your Thanksgiving and Christmas meal.
Spread The Word to Build A Team    ...Click for More 10/16/2022

Saving The Planet requires a team effort

When you interact with friends and neighbors about ways each of us can help - you gain new insights.

But you also gain (and share) inspiration and motivation. And... a basis for optimism!

Here are some ways you can spread the word:

  • Share with your extended family and friends your eco-friendly efforts to help inspire them to action, as well.
  • Lead and communicate by example by practicing voluntary simplicity in your big and small lifestyle choices.
  • Attend ward committee meetings about construction proposals in your neighborhood to advocate for design and material use that will obtain LEED certification.
  • Among the products that you use regularly, write to thank companies that are eco-friendly and write to companies that are not to urge them to get on board.  Also, “vote with your wallet” by buying more from the former and less from the latter until those companies do get on board.
  • Research political candidates for how their platforms line up with the seven tenets of Laudato si’ and let them know your thoughts.
Hosting A Party    ...Click for More 9/14/2022

It's Party Season!

Let’s get this party started by treating Mother Nature as an honored guest!

Whether your event is small, large or in-between, whether it is at home, outdoors or at a venue, here are some ideas to make it earth-friendly.

  • Use virtual invitations and RSVPs.  If this is not an option, use invitations produced on recycled paper by a printer who uses ecologically-minded ink/toner and processes.
  • Use real plates, glasses and cutlery.  If this is not possible, use biodegradable tableware.
  • Decorate with reusable and/or recyclable ornamentations.  As fun and cute as they are, skip the balloons, anything with glitter and the plastic novelties.
  • Buy locally sourced, in-season flowers or consider reusable dried flowers or rental plants.  Ask your venue coordinator if there’s a possibility of sharing flower arrangements with the event immediately before or after yours.
  • Forgo the party favors - no one will notice!  Or give eco-friendly favors.
  • Have a plan for leftover food to minimize waste.  Consider doggy bags for your guests or donations to a food pantry or homeless shelter.
  • Make it easy for your guests to recycle by providing clearly marked containers for paper, plastic, glass and waste.
Around The House Part 2 - Water    ...Click for More 8/11/2022

We are truly blessed to have Lake Michigan at our doorstep. 
Its beauty and abundance are among our greatest natural resources.  We need to love it right back! But the water is not as limitless as it may seem:

Most of the water we draw from the lake eventually flows, as wastewater, to the Gulf of Mexico (not back to the lake as you might expect). Illinois is part of an interstate agreement which limits what we can remove from the lake.

Chicago uses a combined wastewater system which means stormwater is combined with our sewage into a single stream. We should use less water during heavy rains to avoid overflows which can require release of untreated sewage into the lake.

Here are some excellent documents with interesting details:

The Environmental Protection Agency - a variety of steps we can take to conserve water

The Metropolitan Planning Council - The life-cycle of Chicago water, and the resources devoted to managing it.

For a list of ways you can save water - click for more, above.

Around The House - Energy Use    ...Click for More 7/10/2022

Our homes keep us comfortable and support our many activities.
Whether in a high-rise building or a private home there are ways we can save energy (and money) and still be comfortable. Here are some suggestions:

Request a free energy audit if you live in a single family home and make what changes you can to improve your energy efficiency.  Request an energy efficiency report from your building manager if you live in a high rise and advocate for steps to improve the rating where possible.

Lower the thermostat temperature in winter and raise it in summer.  Even a couple of degrees can add up to a big difference over time.  Turn off the system and open the windows in spring and autumn when possible.

We all need sunshine!  But consider closing your blinds, shades or drapes on the hottest days of summer and on the coldest days of winter to save on energy use.

Another seasonal trick for your comfort but with lower energy use is to turn on a dehumidifier in summer and a humidifier in winter.

Install a Smart Thermostat for preprogramed efficiency.

Use energy efficient lightbulbs.

Clean the dryer lint trap after each load.  Also, air dry your laundry whenever that works well.

Check your HVAC owners manual for how often to change the system filters.

Time for a new appliance?  Invest in one that has the highest available Energy Star rating.

Shopping For Clothing    ...Click for More 6/10/2022

The clothing industry uses significant resources, produces extraordinary amounts of waste and affects the lives of millions of workers. We can have a big positive impact when we think about our wardrobes and shop thoughtfully.

If a little is good, is more really better?


  • less is more: ask yourself whether you truly need an item before you buy it.
  • buy classic designs that don’t go out of style and avoid the “fast fashion” trend.
  • buy used clothing from consignment and resale shops.
  • rent special occasion outfits.
  • plan ahead for hand-me-downs among children or grandchildren.
  • donate clothing you no longer wear but that is in good condition.
Shopping For Food    ...Click for More 5/8/2022
  • Shop local:

1) Patronize indoor and outdoor farmer’s markets.
2) Look for locally grown or made products in the grocery store.
3) Consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization which will periodically provide supplies of in-season produce.

  • Buy only what you’ll eat or cook before it goes bad to minimize waste.
  • Buy and cook in bulk when convenient to make individual serving freezer packages; label and use before freezer burn sets in.  Also, consider bulk purveyors that allow you to bring your own containers.
  • Use your own cloth or mesh shopping bags and wash them after every use for food safety.
  • Look for minimal and/or biodegradable packaging; try to avoid plastic and styrofoam.
  • Consider a countertop composting machine to use the compost in your own or your local community garden.
Transportation    ...Click for More 4/15/2022
  • Going out and about? When you are able and it is safe, prioritize your travel options as: walk or ride your bike; take public transit; car pool or ride share; drive or ride individually.
  • Going shopping? Try to combine errands to minimize trips.
  • Going far away? Investigate the opportunity to buy carbon offsets to your airplane trip.
  • Ready for a new car? Consider a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.