Pura Vida and Laudato Si Life style choices and consumer culture

By: Audrey Campo

Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and the care of our common home. Throughout it he discusses a lot about consumers and the environmental issues that are faced on a day to day basis. He informs the audience about how today has become a throwaway culture. He talks about the waste humans produce on the regular. He uses other examples to help the topic be better understood as well. He says, “These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. 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, maximizing 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 (Pope Francis).” In this quote Pope Francis presents the issue of throwaway culture and a way that it can be fought. The issue is an extremely prevalent problem in today's society in which people use paper and plastic like it is nothing. Society seems to forget that most things that are used today can be harmful to the planet. These items have become so normal in everyday life that they do not seem like they could be harmful. All of these products are also used as fast as you can think of what damage it will cause the earth.

Pope Francis expresses how today’s society is so quick and willing to throw everything away instead of trying to live a slowed down simple life. It is important to enjoy everything before moving onto to the next so quickly. He explains this issue by saying, “The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity (Pope Francis).” This quote demonstrates that change is welcomed, but it must be at a steady pace. It cannot beat out the earths natural pace, yet that is exactly what it is doing. Technology is so prevalent today and it has helped out a great deal in many different ways. Yet, it is also hurting the world and the people that inhabit it.

This theme resides extremely well with the mission of Pura Vida Bracelets. Pura Vida is a company started by two Californians who took a trip to Costa Rica. They met some locals who made bracelets, so they asked for 400 to take home. Once they got back the sold the bracelets in just a couple days. They later teamed up with the Costa Ricans to create a multitude of bracelets and it became a worldwide movement. These bracelets have many different purposes and the company’s mission is exceptionally important. They state, “They were a movement that celebrated the simple things in life—or “Pura Vida,” as Costa Ricans would call it. Translating to “pure life” in Spanish, “pura vida” is more than just a saying. It’s a lifestyle of sorts. One that’s all about enjoying life’s little pleasures, slowing things down and living life to the fullest (Pura Vida).” In a simpler explanation the companies tag line is “live Free”. The company and Pope Francis both share the interest in a simple life and not being so quick to move on to the next thing. They both see the importance in life and how it needs to be preserved. Also, how it should be celebrated and not taken for granted.

The company also explains in their mission that giving back is at the core of what they do. It is easily seen on their website under the tab that says bracelets. Right under bracelets it says charity and as soon it is clicked on it goes to a page that says, “Bracelets and stacks that give back to special causes you care about” (Pura Vida). These bracelets range from save the dolphins to colon cancer. Each bracelet is connected to a charity, for example on of the bracelets is names Save The Sea Turtles and they are linked with Sea Turtle Conservancy. This is the worlds oldest research and conservation group, so if someone buys one of these bracelets then ten percent of the proceeds go to help fund research. This money will be used for a multitude of tasks that the organization choices to help save the turtles or depending on the bracelet help fix whatever issue they are focused on. So, for each bracelet ten percent of the proceeds go toward helping the cause the consumer chose.

In the Jesuit tradition giving back to others and the community is a part of daily life. Since Pope Francis is a Jesuit this is something he abides by. The Pope references giving back in a different way than Pura Vida, but it is still a similar act. He related it in a way of giving back to the Lord, but to everyone as well. He says, “The created things of this world are not free of ownership: “For they are yours, O Lord, who love the living” (Wis 11:26). This is the basis of our conviction that, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect. Here I would reiterate that “God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement”[67] (Pope Francis)”. Interpreting this quote can be done many ways. The way I interpret it is that all of humanity should take care of the planet and each other. Everyone should give back to mother earth and to the poor, or needy. It is what God would want since none of this is anyone’s but his.

Both Pura Vida and Pope Francis deal with giving back to both the earth and the community. Pura Vida does it by donating money towards fixing the issue for both the world problems it is concerned with and also the ones centered around those in need. Pope Francis talks mainly of giving back to both the earth and others because of God. They both relay similar messages just the basis is a bit different. That being Pope Francis’ reasoning being for God and Pura Vida’s being either for the good of the earth, or for helping out of the kindness of their hearts. They both share a duty to the earth and others that they are working towards. They are trying to spread their messages and also are trying to help fix what they can. As the continue to have their voices heard hopefully people will start to act toward the common goal of our common home.

When thinking about Pope Francis’ encyclical and Pura Vida, one would never think that they had anything in common. It is amazing that there are so many connections that can be made just by reading the Popes book and then using it to analyze other things. For example, just looking at the issues of the world it is able to be used to connect the dots. Also, by using the Catholic Social Teachings used throughout the book it was possible to pick up on resemblances throughout Pura Vida’s mission. Connecting the two is something that seemed taboo at first, but as I continued to look more in depth more and more started to add up. Using these seven teachings and the basis of Pope Francis’ encyclical will give a broader more knowledgeable approach to most situation. Hopefully with this knowledge more people will try, pray that it succeeds, to help save the planet.


Created with images by pacificazure - "sunset ocean water" • Ashwin Vaswani - "untitled image" • Hans - "garbage can garbage pollution" • Oliver Sjöström - "untitled image" • Jeremy Bishop - "untitled image" • Louis Maniquet - "untitled image"

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