How my faith has inspired me to live a sustainable and eco-caution life.
Growing up in a conservative faith-based home, caring for the environment was not a focus or really a thing. I knew the importance of keeping trash out of the highway because it’s gross and I knew from school to recycle paper but that was it. I was not too worried about environmental care but something happened in my late teens/early adulthood- I was realizing caring for the environment was caring for God’s creation. My thought was always, “you go into someone’s home, you don’t make a mess because that’s rude. We shouldn’t make a mess of God’s creation and damage it because He created it and that’s rude.” I started to recycle more, brought my own coffee cup to coffee shops, learned about the environmental impact food has and stayed a vegetarian for that reason, and I slowly transitioned myself to consume less waste.
Why do Christians not care about environmental issues? At least Conservative Evangelicals? Most would say “Because the earth will end so why bother?” I’ve also heard from others that said, “People are more important than environmental issues.” However, Scripture talks about God’s love for His creations and commands His people to be stewards of this earth and God gave us enough means to live off of. In Genesis 1, God calls His creation good seven times and in Genesis 2:15, God commands Adam in the Garden of Eden to take care of it. Within the first two chapters of the Bible, it was God’s original plan to care for His creation.
God even commanded the Israelites to care for land in Leviticus 25 by sowing the field, pruning the vineyards, and letting the land rest for a year. The Psalms are also filled with God’s love for the environment. All of Psalms 104 is about His love for the foundation of the earth, the process of the grass growing, the trees being flourishing, and so much more.
There are many more verses about God’s love for the environment and I believe God loves His land as much as His people because He created both. Sadly, with the rise of trash and chemicals being used, we as a culture have not been mindful of the environmental impact. This has caused the air to become more toxic, water has become unclean, the soil is becoming less healthy, and individuals are becoming sick because of these results. Do I believe the earth will end? Yes. Is caring for the environment still important? Yes. Like issues such feeding the hungry, caring for the widow and orphan, care for the environment is caring for God’s people. If you want to give your neighbor food or water, shouldn’t it be clean? Shouldn’t your neighbor have clean air to beath?
Living sustainably is living with less waste and it includes using natural material from the earth (the goodies God created). It is also living within our means like the Israelites were doing in Exodus 16:4, “”I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.” I know I am not living 100% sustainable and “zero waste” lifestyle and I do not believe that lifestyle is always possible. However, I know I can reduce my waste and carbon footprint by using the items I have, using natural materials and products, and choosing to buy less stuff that will be thrown away later. I can also produce less carbon emission by driving less, turning off the water faucet, and knowing the environmental impact of my daily items.
Some of the ways I live sustainably:
- Bringing my own reusable cup and bottle
- Skipping the plastic bag (I use paper bags and reuse them, I bring my own, or just go without a bag at all)
- Bring a cloth towel as a napkin
- Bring my own silverware into the staff room
- Reuse plastic baggies (I do clean it and I don’t have to use as many plastic bags, therefore, the plastic bag will go in the landfill slower)
- Walk or bus if possible
- Creating my own products with little waste as possible
- Reuse containers from food or beauty products (I clean them and I reuse food containers with food and beauty containers with beauty products)
- If I want a food order to-go, I’ll work to order the food for “here” and transfer my food into my own Tupperware or containers
- Buy upcycle
- Buy second-hand
- Buy clothing that is ethically sourced (the materials they use have to use energy used to make it).
God wants us to live off His land and care for His creation (Genesis 2:15 reference again). If you encounter comments like, “God can destroy the earth if He wants” or “People are more important than the environment.” don’t get into a debate but turn the conversations to wanting clean air and water for everyone. We all want clean air, water, soil, and a healthy earth. That is a basic human right that everyone deserves and I don’t believe most people will disagree.
Educate yourself and take action to reduces carbon emission, reduce waste, and find ways you can help the environment as one person and as a community. There are a lot of ways to go about this issue. Ride your bike, drive less, bring a reusable cup, buy second-hand, buy eco-friendly/natural products, have your church plant trees, etc. There are more things I can list off but I will let you decide how you want to go about this issue.
Lastly do not feel shameful about past waste and carbon emission you produced. I was not aware and caring about my waste and living sustainably for most of my life. Know that the small things can make a difference and it can help inspire others in your community to do the same.
We have done our damage to this earth that God has given us but does not mean the damage can’t be reversed and we should just give up and not think to care. Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12). I will interpret that to also mean caring for the environment is caring for your brothers and sisters health and well being. If you want clean air, water, and food, why shouldn’t others have the same thing?