It was a beautiful morning for a walk. As I made my way home, I spotted three young boys manning a lemonade stand.
They were enthusiastic salesmen, loudly hollering “lemonade” at everyone who passed on foot or in a vehicle. It brought back memories. With three kids, I went through a lot of lemonade with my gang of entrepreneurs. It was a ritual of summer — the sign-making, the marketing, the sense of camaraderie with neighborhood friends. And, oh yes, the profit motive.
“Wow, guys, I haven’t even had coffee yet,” I tell the boys.
“That’s what everybody says,” one of them replies. It was barely 8 o’clock.
“And,” I continue, “I don’t have money but I can get some. I’m almost home.”
The little one pipes up: “We accept Venmo!”
Venmo? At a lemonade stand? The world has changed since I had kids. I asked if they also took bitcoin, but they gave me blank looks.
Armed with money, I went back, wishing they were selling lattes. As I paid — Grandma still uses cash — I noted the barcode taped to their table. Yep, Venmo.
Here’s another thing I noticed: Mom had provided huge, single-use plastic glasses for their project. I’m sure back in my day, I did the same thing. But now, I cringed.
Lemonade-stand moms, please: try to find some completely paper, compostable cups.
I know, I know, we are all weary of apocalyptic climate messaging — and no one likes a lecture — but there are small things we can do and we must. Cutting down on single-use plastic is undeniably tough. Here’s a couple of things I’m trying: I order laundry sheets, little dissolvable rectangles that come in compostable packaging and eliminate the need for those huge plastic bottles, a major landfill item. I’m also experimenting with different kinds of shampoo bar soap.
The state where I now live (New Jersey) has banned plastic bags. I admit, I once used those plastic grocery bags as kitchen garbage bags, but now we grab canvas bags on our way out the door (with extras in the trunk), and we’ve found inexpensive compostable bags online for our kitchen garbage.
If a few people forgo plastic bags, it’s helpful. But if a city or state mandates it, it makes a tremendous difference in plastic usage. You have to advocate for that.
That’s why it was a good thing in 2006 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops helped form Catholic Climate Covenant, a project of education, advocacy and prayer. Their advocacy work encourages our legislators, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies to get on board to do the right things for our earth.
By googling Catholic Climate Covenant you can learn how to be part of advocacy for change on a national scale. Maybe you can even encourage your parish bulletin to get on board.
In his environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home,” Pope Francis wrote, “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities — to offer just a few examples — it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected” (No. 117).
Everything is connected. We are, all of us, connected, and we’re intimately connected to the natural world that is now under such duress.
Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan said, “About practically everything in the world, there’s nothing you can do … however, about a few things you can do something. Do it, with good heart.”
Help ensure that for another generation, little kids will still have beautiful, mild mornings where lemonade stands beckon, with Venmo or without.
Effie Caldarola is a wife, mom and grandmother who received her master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Seattle University.