" Laudato Si " testimony: the Olive family

Inhabitants of a village in Seine-et-Marne, we embarked on an integral ecology journey two years ago. After ten years of marriage and four children, Monsieur, a 37-year-old engineer, has become as enthusiastic as Madame, a 35-year-old REP+ college professor. A documentary on the illusions of recycling was the trigger, then the reading of four reference books gradually determined our new vocation: to truly live integral ecology! 

The objective is quite simple: to praise and respect Creation at its most beautiful: nature, human beings, and God! When God says in Genesis "fill the earth and subdue it" we must understand rather "take care"! Learning that the waste we had patiently sorted in the yellow bin was rarely recycled into a nice eco-friendly sweater but rather dumped in open dumps in Asia, we first sought to reduce our waste with alternatives to everything disposable: plastic compote bottles gave way to real fruit, paper towels to cloth napkins; in the bathroom, we eliminated dozens of unnecessary creams and bought solid shampoo and toothpaste; in our dressing room or toy boxes, we only find what we really need or enjoy, and durable items bought as many as possible as second-hand items. 

It's a real lifestyle change, and here are our little tools:

HUMILITY AND PATIENCE : all these changes are long to implement and sometimes end in failures (like using the wrong detergent to wash your diapers, which makes them waterproof and therefore prone to leaks!). We are not inventing anything, this sobriety already existed in the time of our parents and grandparents. Even if we are rather satisfied to see that our garbage can only fills up very little, we keep in mind that we won't "save" the planet by ourselves. Each one of us does what we can and with the help of prayer. Above all, we must not feel guilty if we occasionally buy disposable diapers (more suitable for holidays) or overwrapped cupcakes that our children have been dreaming about for weeks.

FREEDOM AND CHARITY: we live more simply, and that liberates us! The time saved by cleaning up our excess belongings or shopping can be dedicated to God, our spouse, our children, or all those who need help. Integral ecology also means helping the poorest.

What a joy to have seen relatives following our invitation, formulated on the birth announcement of our last one, to make a donation to an association instead of offering them yet another teddy bear or bodysuit!  Our move with people in rehabilitation was efficient, economical and supportive.! With the Secours Catholique's family holiday welcome, we had great joy to welcome two summers in a row a child who cannot go on holiday and who lives all year round with his family in a small hotel room thanks to the Samu social. It has been an intense experience for our whole family, it has also taught our children that they live in a certain comfort and must in return share what they have. Ecology is respect for life in its broadest sense: protecting bees and trees is meaningless if you look away every time you meet a homeless person. We will renew the experience when the little one is no longer a baby, in order to fully enjoy it. 

HEALTH AND COMMON SENS: we live healthier and more simply. To eliminate plastic packaging, we hardly consume any more highly processed and sweetened food, or toxic household or gardening products. We would like to be able to eat less chocolate (our silhouette says thank you!) not only because cocoa produces a lot of greenhouse gases to be transported to us, but especially because the industry uses mass slavery to grow this tasty product. We prefer to ride our bikes, and save on gym membership! I gave up daily contact lenses for a pair of glasses. What a joy also to have managed to cook leftover hard bread instead of throwing it away, to have found a new use for a damaged object. Ecology stimulates creativity.

PROXIMITY BEFORE EVERYTHING: we are experiencing new and beautiful encounters, by dint of returning to small shops, local or organic producers. In integral ecology, it is the human being who prevails, not material activism. It's a good idea to wear out your dishwashing liquid or churn your own butter if you don't want to have the energy to read a story to your child! With our friends and neighbours, we are more likely to lend each other books, childcare articles, tools that we only occasionally need. Social networks are no longer a way to show off our social and family success, but to exchange tips on self-help groups on how to overcome our difficulties in zero waste.

PEDAGOGY and BENEVOLENCE: The reactions around us are sometimes admiring, for example customers who see me asking the butcher or the cheese maker to put his food in my large glass dish instead of its disposable packaging. But our loved ones can also be annoyed, either because they feel judged not to do so, or because they don't understand the process, due to a lack of information (it is often believed that everything is magically recycled). We are taken for trendy, slightly nasty bobos-hippies with our washable tissues, our pipinettes (which replace toilet paper for urine) or our tawashis (sponges woven from socks with holes in them). But we assume because we believe in our approach! And above all, we do not impose anything on others: toilet paper remains available for guests (and stools!). The children are happy to follow us in our approach, even if our eldest child is crying out for "real toothpaste" because he doesn't like solids. They stimulate us a lot: since one day we picked up some rubbish on a walk, they want to do it systematically!

INFORM, MEDITATE, EXCHANGE: To understand integral ecology in a practical way, we recommend that you first read Comment sauver la planète à domicile, l’art de vivre selon Laudato Si, by Adeline and Alexis Voizard, easier than Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si (to be read perhaps in a second time). Concerning the zero waste approach, we recommend you the playful and documented reading of Famille (presque) zéro déchet by Jérémie Pichon and Bénédicte Moret (a blog version is also available), or the more radical book by Béa Johnson, Zero déchet.

Our next challenge: Building a henhouse!

A Zero Waste Christmas: wooden pallet tree, fabric wrapping, reusable Advent calendar and little rascals!

A Zero Waste Christmas: wooden pallet tree, fabric wrapping, reusable Advent calendar and three little rascals!

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