I have to admit that even though the evidence has been mounting up over the last 20 years I have been slow to accept the fact that I have contributed to the current world environmental crisis. I am part of the western world that uses far more power, water and other resources per capita than is equitable! I have also come to realise that as a Christian I have a God given responsibility to protect this world and be a good steward of those limited resources. Sadly, history shows that the western church has been a willing partner in exploiting and destroying the environment and is strangely silent in this current debate.
It seems to me that the message of the Bible is that injustice makes God angry, and that when nature is in pain He takes notice! God is on the side of the powerless and downtrodden and He expects us to be accountable for what we have done with what He has given us. Just like my mother expected me to tidy up the mess in my room , so too I believe that God expects us to do something about the mess we have made in the world and adjust the current inequitable distribution of resources.
The key to all this is knowing where to start! Most of us get overwhelmed because it seems too hard, but here are three things that we can all do:
- Reduce! If we would all stop and reassess the difference between what we want and what we need, we would probably be able to reduce both what we buy and what we use. That would in turn reduce our consumption of resources and power! Do we really need all those things that the media is telling us are essential?
- Reuse! What we need to recognise is that we have grown up to be a throw-away society, yet we can choose to buy a reusable bag and NOT to accept and use a plastic one. Our landfill tips are full of things that could have been reused, but in our affluent western culture we just don’t bother, we buy a new one. Stand against this trend and be different.
- Recycle! We are getting better at this but we still have a long way to go. With just a little effort on our part we can recycle all the aluminum, steel, paper, glass and some plastics we use – this will reduce consumption of raw materials. By choosing recyclable items over non-recyclable we can all do our part for the environment.
Acting on these simple recycle facts will help reduce our carbon footprint, our power consumption and our waste, with the result that we will have a healthier and more equitable world. You’ve got to be happy with that!
In my discussion with a new group of people this week I was amazed by the fact that many of them wanted to be ecologically sensitive but just didn’t know where to start. They are now aware of the need to go green for the benefit of the planet, but thought it was too complicated and so fail to do anything. The fact is it is not all that complicated, the idea is to start small and build up to bigger things. Here are six things that we can all do:
1. Drive less! This week I was in a new city and I really enjoyed just walking around getting a feel for it – which was much better than just getting a quick glimpse through the windscreen. These days I try to walk (or cycle) as much as I can for all short trips, getting the benefit of the exercise and the reduction in fuel costs.
2. Reuse! My current passion is the need to reuse water bottles. They are a fairly new innovation that have quickly become essential! WRONG! They may be handy, but the cost and the fact that so many end up in landfill tips mean that they are bad for the environment.
3. Recycle! My next bug bear is grocery bags. I am old enough to remember before we had plastic bags, and walking to the shops with with our own shopping trolley on wheels. We cannot turn back the clock, and I can no longer walk to where we do our main shopping, but I now try to remember taking our own recyclable shopping bags. Plastic shopping bags are bad for the environment so choose not to use them.
4. Save water! as population expands so does our need for water, but we can no longer just build another dam. Therefore we all need to do all we can to conserve this precious resource. we now have our own tank to catch our rain water and we use our gray water from the washing machine to water our lawn and garden.
5. Insulate! Even modern houses are not well insulated, so adding insulation to the ceiling space and remembering to open and close your heavy insulated curtains can minimise heat loss in winter and keep you house cooler in summer. This will save you money on your heating and cooling bills and be better for the environment.
6. Generate! It is now getting easier to generate your own electricity, so consider whether it is now time to invest in solar panels for your roof, or install a solar water heater or build your own wind turbine. The energy you produce can then be fed back into the commercial grid and you can get paid for it.
It has never been easier to go green, so what are you going to do today to apply these suggestions to your life.