It’s Earth Day this weekend and I have to admit that I’m still on a big learning curve when it comes to taking care of our planet. Sadly, I didn’t grow up believing that planet care and care for the environment is a spiritual practice! I grew up in the “get saved and get raptured” South, which means that we were all about “getting to heaven,” and the Kingdom of God was off the planet not here. While I am still a big believer in heaven, I now know that as followers of Jesus, we are called to live out the Kingdom here and now! And part of that is taking care of this beautiful planet we call home.
This can still be a challenge when you don’t live around people who practice planet care, or when you move from a place where people really care about the environment, like in California and the Northwest, to a place that is still figuring out recycling like here in Nashville. When we lived in California, our recycling bin was twice the size of our garbage/trash bin. The recycling was picked up weekly along with the garbage. Here in the “IT” city of Nashville, recycling is picked up once a month and glass recycling is not done curbside at all. You have to take the glass to a recycling center. And plastic grocery bags, banished in many places on the west coast, are still used on a daily basis at most grocery stores here in the South.
It’s scary and mind boggling, but sadly there is still a bit of an
“us verses them” mentality here in America. In the South, too many people still see care for the planet and celebrations like Earth Day as “Liberal” causes and not celebrations and actions we all can participate in as people of God. I believe we are all called to be caregivers of Creation and we can all start and expand the spiritual practice of caring for creation, wherever we are on the planet! And as followers of Jesus we can be examples of living out love for our planet as well as it’s people.
But how do we start? or How do we start again? How do we expand our understanding?
Maybe you are interested in being more “planet aware,” but it feels overwhelming.
Maybe like me, you sometimes shut down because you cannot fix things, or you don’t know enough, or you are just so busy that planet care and sustainability feels like too much!
Like all spiritual practices, it TAKES PRACTICE to take care of the planet!
I am all about baby steps.
Being willing to be willing!
Like any good thing, sustainability and planet care take time.
It takes time to recycle.
It takes time to buy food that is less processed and is in less packaging.
It takes time to learn from others who are experts in the field of sustainability and planet care.
We can learn a great deal from our international friends who are paying much more attention to planet care than we are in the States. And those of us in the South can learn a lot from our neighbors on the west coast who have already banned plastic bags and are working towards zero waste. In yesterday’s post, I learned about an organization doing great work against plastic waste AROCHA.
So where do we start?
- Be honest and Pay Attention and take a personal inventory. Like in Recovery/12 Step programs I first have to admit that I have a problem and confess that I need help with this problem. I confess that I am guilty of buying A LOT of stuff in plastic without even paying attention. I admit that I have an obsessive love of zip lock plastic bags! Just this week, I ran into Target to get some laundry detergent (in a large plastic bottle) and we needed eggs, but the “good eggs” were packaged in a 3 layer plastic container! Didn’t really think of this until I put the empty container in the recycling bin! That is an abundance of plastic for one dozen eggs! I will not be buying them like that again! Sadly, I’ve noticed that Costco likes to protect their eggs and fruit in plastic too! Wondering if we could ask Costco to change that? And maybe Target too? If enough voices yell loud enough, often change happens! Again, this involves paying attention, noticing and taking the time to care about little things that add up quickly.
- Start in your neighborhood. What can you do to stick up for the environment and for the health of your community? Can you pick up trash? Can you plant flowers? Can you fight for better recycling? Can you fight the developers who want to over build? Taking time to get to know your neighbors is the first place to start! and then getting to know your local leaders so you can take action together! My next step is to remind my neighbors that they can ask for more recycling bins! We are allowed 3 large bins but most people only have one, which fills up quickly when recycling only happens once a month!
- Be a Learner! Take some time to check out sites on the internet that can help you learn more about the environment and how to care for it. check out this video for a few simple ideas to try!
- Do ONE THING. Like I’ve said on many things, we have to start small and begin. What is one thing you can do to start making a difference for the planet? What is ONE NEW THING you can do to add to what you are already doing for sustainability and planet care? I learned living in California to take my reusable grocery bags to the store, but I am now going to invest in some re useable vegetable bags to use in the produce aisle. I also started taking a cloth napkin in my purse and in my back pack to use when I am eating on the road so I don’t use so many paper ones. And just recently I bought a new, bigger water bottle to carry with me wherever I go. My old one was too hard to clean so it often got left at home and I resorted to buying plastic water bottles that became trash/recycling.
- PRAY! Pray for our Planet. Pray for people around the globe to want to care for their neighborhoods. Pray for local and national leaders to make good choices for the Environment. Pray for ways you personally can be a better care giver of creation. For me it starts by saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry God, that too often I don’t see the needs around me. Too often I don’t take the time to care for the planet or to stand up for causes that protect the environment. Give me your eyes to see the beauty of this planet. Give me your hands to make a difference and help me to take responsibility for how I live here. Forgive me for the ways I have failed. Help me love creation as much as you do! AMEN
Give yourself permission to be on a learning curve. Give yourself grace as you learn to practice sustainability. Jesus wants us to love others and love the planet, one step at a time. What’s your first baby step? I’d love to hear about it!