There has been a tonne of articles showing up on my social media feeds about the environment lately. Have you seen this thing about banning plastic straws? Many environmentalists are looking to curb the use of plastics, with particular focus on the energy consuming, and very damaging, tiny plastic straw. The topic was supposedly listed for discussion among the G7 leaders this spring. Vancouver is set to ban all plastic straws, containers and foam cups by June of 2019 — the first Canadian city to do so. Apparently, even the Queen has “gone green” and banned plastic straws and bottles on all royal estates. It’s a hot topic and got me a thinkin’… what is our responsibility to the environment?
Now let me state for the record… I really try and do my part for the earth. I am forever turning out lights in my house… which gets me critiqued all the time for “living in darkness”. I recycle often and buy used. I turn off the tap when I brush my teeth. I tried banning juice boxes in school lunches after a debate broke out at a school council meeting over — you guessed it — non-recyclable plastic straws. It didn’t go over so well… my kids instantly rebelled at the lovely reusable drinking containers I purchased and demanded the return of the convenient juice box. It’s just simpler when you have a large family to go with what is easiest. I see these adorable Instagram posts of zero waste, environmentally friendly products and wonder… do these people have children?! Do these people have millions of dollars?! It’s a huge crisis in my brain when I go to the store and have the option of buying two products… one “green” and one … well… cheap. I am sorry to say… I opt for cheap. Sustainability. Is it really cost effective? Why is it cheaper for me to feed my family of six at McDonalds than to buy organically grown, local vegetables?! Something is wrong.
Perhaps it is moving in the right direction, however… McDonald’s has apparently began looking at the straw thing. With good reason. Americans use over 500 million plastic straws per day!! Most of those are used for less than 20 minutes and end up floating around in the ocean. These and other plastics take forever to degrade… which means that 90% of our marine animals have consumed plastics in their lifetimes… simply mistaking it for food. This doesn’t include the other environmental hazards like entanglement, toxic leakage and who knows what else. So far though… I still get a straw when I order my lemonade. What do I do, then? I have seen arguments on both sides. I read a good one about how a complete banning of straws would impact the special needs world significantly. Many people need the convenience of a plastic straw because of medical or mobility issues, and the alternatives are not suitable. Hmmmn. The debate digs deeper…
So let’s take it even further… when is the last time you heard a sermon on caring for the environment in your local church? Oh. Oh. We debate sex, drugs, rock and roll — we even dabble in politics and the love of money — but not much gets said about banning straws in church. In fact, social science studies show that the far right christian worldview is much less concerned with the environment than the general public. Either because we want to stay away from “tree hugging new age philosophies” that worship all nature as “god”, or because we simply think that this world is all going to be gone anyway when Christ comes back so why worry about it? And so I muse… WHY?
Is there a need for Jesus followers to be concerned about the environment? Should we be going green? Or is it not something we need to be concerned about? I did a quick google search… and was quite surprised to see very little information about the green debate, the environment and christianity. A few articles about those radicals, a few scientific studies about how we don’t care… but very few about sermons or discussions on the topic. One that I did find was a transcript of a podcast by Chip Ingram of livingontheedge.org. He has a two part series on this very subject. I encourage you to check it out! Since I am not an expert, I was pleased to find that the Bible does indeed have lots to say about the environment, and how we should care for it! It really is a spiritual discipline that we should be considering more. God created this earth. He gave it to us to take care of. Yes, we have “dominion” over it and we were called to “subdue” it… but Ingram does a good job of explaining what that means… it’s not simply to rule and overtake… but a delicate balance of working within the confines of what God has set in motion for our Earth. We are to preserve the beauty and the natural cycle of the land… without worshipping it. Did the Israelites know about organic soils and nitrogen replenishing? No… but God instructed them to let the land rest. God gives us so many rich resources… and the means to preserve them… if only we would consider it. I encourage you to dig a little deeper with me, and truly discover what God does say about this issue. It’s an interesting muse. Perhaps there will have to be a “Part 2” to this post as I continue to learn…
Until then, I will still be turning out the lights in my house. I will try and lug-a-mug to church for the coffee fellowship. I am going to try and explore a bit more about how to be “greener” (and continue to be jealous of those instagram posts). Will I convince my kids to not use juice boxes? Time will tell. Maybe Kermit the Frog had it right: It isn’t easy being green.
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