Caring for Our Common Home

This post was shared by Lynn Screen, Managing Director in Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

This month marks the 51st Earth Day, a global celebration and reminder of the fragility of our planet.  This year, we also celebrate Georgetown University’s newest Jesuit value, “Care for Our Common Home”.

“Care for Our Common Home” calls us to enter into a “new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”  In addition to protecting the Earth through conservation and preservation efforts, there is also a moral imperative at play.   We recognize the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color, so we are called to advance the work of environmental justice.

What can you as a leader do to care for our common home?

Start at Home

Consider your own ecological footprint and reflect on how your lifestyle compares with that of the other 7.6 million people on the Earth.  The are many tools to calculate the impact of your lifestyle choices.  Try this one from the Global Footprint Network.  

Identify ways that you and your family can continue to decrease your ecological impact on our planet.  Reduce your waste, your use of disposable plastics, your meat consumption, and your water use.  Switch to renewable energy sources and to buying as much as possible locally. Commit to starting something different today.

Learn About Environmental Justice

The environmental justice movement began in the 1980s as massive disparities were exposed in the burden of environmental degradation and pollution facing people of color and low-income communities .  Since then, the environmental justice movement has focused on gaining government support to decrease the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation and pollution- especially on those communities that already face discrimination.

What is your role in environmental justice?  Educate yourself on the environmental justice efforts in your area, and elevate the voices of impacted communities.   As a leader, use your power and position to influence others to support environmental justice.  As a citizen, hold your representatives accountable.   If you are in the U.S., start here at the Environmental Protection Agency site. 

Add a Sustainability Lens to Your Decision Making

Each day, we make thousands of conscious decisions.  What would happen if you paused twice a day to ask yourself, “How will this choice impact the environment?”  In your organization, at what point in your strategic planning, budgeting, procurement, hiring, and operations do you consider the implications on the environment and those disproportionally impacted?  Raise your individual and organizational consciousness by adding a sustainability lens to your decision making.  If you are a coach or consultant, support your leaders as they navigate the moral call for sustainability, regeneration and environmental justice as they also tend to the bottom line.

Our collective home is calling us to witness the realities of how we use and abuse the Earth in a new way.  We must use our voices and make bold moves to reshape the future of our planet.  After all, we are truly in this together.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

2 thoughts on “Caring for Our Common Home”

  1. Thanks for this Lynn! My wife is Science Teacher – she runs a challenge for middle school age children called Going Green. It involves each student committing to a practice that reduces their home carbon footprint. We also participate, so each year we commit to doing something else to help. A few years ago we started using a recycling service called Terracycle. It is great, for all who are interested see: https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/zero_waste_boxes

  2. The environmental justice movement has focused on gaining government support to decrease the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation especially on those communities that already face discrimination. We must use our voices and make bold moves to reshape the future of our planet. Thanks for a great post.

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