this post is dedicated to my friend and fellow eco-christian Mike, whose encouraging words are an inspiration.
tonight i would like to talk about something that is very dear to me. the thing is, i don’t have all my thoughts organized and i don’t have all the answers (that’s for sure), but it’s been a long time coming, and the time is now, so bear with me.
i am really bothered by mainstream christianity’s lack of concern for the environment. there, i said it. (duck) i don’t want to lump all christians in this boat, after all i am a christian (though i don’t like what the term has become) and i care fervently for the environment, but it seems as though the general trend with christians is that they lean to the conservative side and somehow they think environmentalism is something for liberal hippies in san francisco, and not for them (after all, “Jesus is coming back someday, what do we need to take care of the earth for?”) i can say this with somewhat authority as i have been frequently referred to as a “tree hugger” (not that i mind) by some christian friends because i recycle, i am pro-environment, anti-animal cruelty, and i drink the occasional spinach smoothie (delicious by the way). therefore, to my friends, the only way they know how to handle me is to call me a tree hugger. and i am sure most christians would faint if i told them clubbing baby seals is right up there with abortion (it is).
i am not bashing on my friends, their attitude reflects generations of the “christian american” thought pattern. perhaps they feel that since, as christians, they are not “of the world” that they shouldn’t concern themselves with caring for the earth, or maybe they feel that, as Adam’s descendants, they rule the earth and animals and can do whatever the heck they please. either way, it’s destructive behavior. i think some christians may also feel that their work should be “saving” people, and not the earth. the thing is, i really don’t think you can do one without the other. for instance, if the american pioneers had not ravaged the land- slaughtering of animals for sport (the bison almost went extinct) and cutting down forests – but instead had entered into america with the mindset that it was ultimately God’s land, not theirs, with a respect and reverence, maybe they would have had a chance at befriending the native americans and showing them the beautiful story of Jesus. but instead they drove them off their land onto tiny reservations, took away their culture, and forced boring “christian names” on them. i would much rather be named “Running Wind” or “Pale Moon” than John or Elizabeth.
i am sure there are thousands of other examples that i could cite, but i will spare you. the thing is we should be loving everything that God made- people, animals, trees, mountains, worms- they all reflect an amazing, loving, intelligent God. and the best part is, you really can love people and the earth at the same time. what better way to do both than to join a litter pick-up team, car pool with your co-workers, volunteer at an animal shelter. they are all opportunities to meet people, help the environment, and talk about greatest Tree Hugger of all.
are you just dipping your toe in the waters of environmentalism? it’s ok! come in- the water’s great, God made it! Here are just a few initial steps you can take be an eco-christian:
recycle: i cannot stress this enough! most cities/towns offer curbside recycling. unfortunately, some apartment complexes, like mine, do not offer recycling. every two or three weeks i load up all my recyclable items and take them to the recycling center local waste management facility. also, pay attention to the products you buy: is the packaging recyclable? is it made from recycled materials? can you reuse it? do you really need it, or will it probably end up in the trash someday? (that one can save you money, too) stay away from a lot of prepackaged/individually wrapped food items…they are done so for your convenience at the expense of the environment- be inconvenienced.
reusable shopping bags: Most grocery stores now sell their own at reasonable prices ($1-$2), they literally pay for themselves, too, as most stores give you bag credits ($.05 per bag). cloth bags are so much easier on you, too, as they hold more, do not break like plastic bags, and you can sling them comfortably over your shoulder. i have an assortment of bags- some canvas, some made from recycled magazines, some a sort of meshy/gauzy material (like most of the ones you’ll see in the stores). if you’re not ready to take this step, however, definitely recycle your plastic shopping bags. don’t throw them away! stores like wal-mart and kroger (and many others) have recycling bins just inside the main entrances where you can get rid of your grocery bags so they can be made into new bags!
compact flourescent bulbs: they save you money, save energy, and save you from having to change light bulbs often. they are great! for more info, visit the Energy Star site.
conserve water: turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth, wash your face, etc.
i could spend all evening naming more ways, but i don’t have time and i don’t want to overwhelm you.
any questions, thoughts, ideas, tips? i’d love to hear!