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Catholic Social Teaching on the Theme

Pope Francis’, in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home, highlighted ‘the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’. He addressed the issue of our throwaway society. "The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," he said. In bemoaning "once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish," the pope rebuked "a throwaway culture" where, in a consumerist mindset, goods, food and even people are discarded after their perceived use and worth wears out.

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We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximising their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.

Laudato Si', 22

We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet.

Laudato Si', 19

We must work to protect the dignity of minors, gently yet firmly, opposing with all our might the throwaway culture nowadays that is everywhere apparent, to the detriment especially of the weak and the most vulnerable, such as minors.

Congress on "Child Dignity in the Digital World", 6 October 2017


Pope Francis asks: "Are we truly cultivating and protecting creation, or are we instead exploiting and neglecting it?" He has highlighted that today's "throwaway culture" is also reflected in frequent waste of food, saying that "food that is thrown away might as well have been stolen from the table of the poor, the hungry".

How far do you agree with Pope Francis about food waste?

In a throwaway culture, people can be easily discarded, particularly if they are poor or vulnerable.

Can you think of examples where this has been happening?

Consider attitudes to refugees, for example.

Find out about projects of faith groups that challenge ‘throwaway culture’, such as Livesimply parishes.