Today is the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, and the planet needs your help more than ever before. Human activity (climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, unsustainable agriculture and pollution) is directly linked to the rapid reduction of plant and wildlife populations throughout our common home. Each of us in our own way is taking action, but we need to redouble our effort.

CBIS is making a difference through active ownership to encourage companies to reduce emissions, protect communities from the impacts of climate change, and to manage risk. Here are a few examples:

  • The commitment: Royal Dutch Shell announced plans to change its business model and become the world’s largest power company by 2033. Just last week we traveled to London for in-depth discussions with the board and CEO and to pose pointed questions to encourage this transition.
  • The commitment: In 2 weeks, Ford will release a report analyzing its business strategy under various scenarios of climate change impacts, a long-time request of CBIS to make transparent their action plans and hold the company to account for lower-emission vehicles.
  • The commitment: On May 21st BP’s shareholder meeting will feature a resolution co-filed by CBIS and 6% of BP’s shareholder base, asking BP to align its business with Paris Agreement goals for limiting global warming. BP’s board supports this proposal and agreed to discuss how its CAPEX spending is aligning with climate goals.

This Earth Day, Catholics worldwide are talking about the Vatican gathering of bishops for an extraordinary month long conversation on the Amazon, a region threatened by climate change, while The Catholic Climate Covenant is encouraging commitments to be protectors of the Earth and all of God’s creation through proactive actions and educational materials.

Now it’s your turn.

Try to pick 3 actions associated with our active ownership work and make a commitment to the planet for 1 month. Review the suggestions below or devise your own. Experiment with changes that you can make last longer than the month:

Make a personal commitment – what changes can you make?

Make a family commitment – what changes can your family make?

Make a commitment to raise awareness – tell your friends, discuss the issue, and share challenges

  • MAKE simple changes — compost food scraps, prevent food waste at home and while out, and go meat-free one day a week to reduce water, hormones, pesticides, greenhouse gases, and more)
  • UNPLUG electronics, chargers and appliances when not in use to eliminate energy vampires that draw unnecessary energy – a waste of money and carbon emissions.
  • ENCOURAGE your place of worship to sign the U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration, which expresses the U.S. Catholic community’s call to climate action. CBIS is a signatory.
  • PLEDGE to end plastics pollution. Plastics are typically made from petroleum, and single-use plastics clog our oceans and rivers, gutters, and the stomachs of many of God’s creatures. Use reusable bags, invest in metal straws, and use bamboo party plates.
  • DITCH THE CAR and walk, bike and take public transit. Transport is a huge contributor to climate change on a personal level.
  • WASH your clothes only when they need it using cold water to save money and energy and use phosphate-free detergent. The majority of the energy used in washing machines is warming the water. Buy cold water detergents — they are made with different ingredients that work as efficiently as regular detergents in hot water. Chronic over-washing wastes water, detergent and energy.
  • WEAR your clothes for an extra 9 months and reduce waste and water usage by ~20-30%.
  • KEEP clothes in circulation. When you buy an item of clothing, give one away. Globally, 80% of discarded textiles are doomed for the landfill or incineration. Only 20% are actually reused or recycled. Use drop-off stations for clothing, blankets and coats.
  • Read Laudato Si. With the 4-year anniversary approaching in June, familiarize yourself with the societal challenges we face – from environmental harms and how Creation and Communities can benefit from a joint response and care (a connection found in many of our engagements).
  • See more actions from The Earth Day Network.