i will not take these things for granted

thoughts on this and that in an attempt to live reflectively

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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

Monday, May 29, 2006

Let Nothing Be Wasted

I've been meaning to write on our responsibility as Christians toward the environment for a while now, and I specifically intended to on Earth Day (April 22), but I was out of town. Ironically and without any intentional connection to this most revered of holidays, on Earth Day this year I visited the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. How appropriate.

So, where to begin with a theology of responsible stewardship with this planet's life and resources? I feel like we shouldn't have to defend the need to take care of the environment; shouldn't it be obvious that Christians should be good stewards of the world around them? But, it seems (1) a good theology of creation and (2) advocacy for environmental awareness are necessary. I'll get to some theology stuff in a sec.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, "Mitch, you're such a tree hugger." Well, if that's the case, I’ll take it as a compliment, because I care about God’s green earth — and the blue and brown parts, too. It’s God’s. It’s good. And it’s our responsibility to take care of it.

Environmental awareness has been important to me since Earth Day (ED) became popular in elementary school. There were ED show's on TV one year that showed just how much we (unintentionally) waste. They showed how many gallons of water go down the drain from taking long showers (but I think it's okay to splurge from time to time) and from leaving the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving. I don't remember how many gallons they reported, but to illustrate the point, they stacked up jug after jug of water in the shower to show how water adds up with every passing minute. It was very convicting to my young heart.

The show also stated that we waste gas when we sit idling in a driveway for a few minutes; if you know you're going to be sitting there a while waiting on the friend or whatever, it's more energy efficient and environmentally friendly to turn off the engine and restart it than it is to idle for more than a couple of minutes.

We also waste electricity by leaving lights and appliances on while we're in another room or not in our house at all (though I understand leaving a light on sometimes to keep robbers away and for a sense of safety when approaching your front door — them robbers is scared of the light). Oh, and don't forget aluminum cans, glass and plastics products, styrofoam, paper, etc — how much we use, how we can reduce their usage, and how important it is to recycle what we do use.

Anyway, they were formative shows for me and I try to be conscious about my own treatment of the environment. It's a spiritual discipline of sorts. I know I'm still very wasteful but I try not to be and want to improve. I think it's the kind of attitude God wants me to have, out of respect for his artwork and out of love for my neighbor.

Again I ask, where can we go to start thinking about environmental stewardship from a theological perspective? Well, the last time I read through the Gospel of John, one statement from our Savior's lips stuck out to me:

Let nothing be wasted.

Jesus feeds the five thousand, and then, "when they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disiples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten (6:12-13)"

How cool: a springboard for a theology of leftovers! :)

Food and all of the resources of this planet are a gift, for which we rightly give thanks in prayer (see verse 11) and which we should steward responsibly.

Okay, that's about enough for today. In the future I hope to write more about:

> A theology of creation and stewardship
> What other Christians are saying and doing about the environment
> What we can do to help

Until then, I welcome thoughts from you on these issues.

I'll end with a staggering statistic on food waste in the US from Soundvision.com's page on poverty in America:

Official surveys indicate that every year more than 350 billion pounds of edible food is available for human consumption in the United States. Of that total, nearly 100 billion pounds - including fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and grain products - are lost to waste by retailers, restaurants, and consumers.


Blogger laura said...

Yikes. That last statistic really bothers me. We were talking in an English class that we visited here in Leipzig yesterday about some of the world's different problems, two of them being hunger and the environment. If we would be less wasteful and more sacrificial, we could save millions of lives, just by eating what we have and not splurging on more and/or better. And here in Germany, they're definitely big on the recycling. One container for plastic and packaging, one for paper, three for different colors of glass, one for biodegradable matter, and one for the rest. It was a pain at first, but it's really not that bad now, and it's nice to know we're doing something to cut down on waste. Wish we did that in the US... Anyway, those are my random thoughts on the subject.

4:44 AM  

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