When there were only a couple of billion of us, it wasn’t too much of a problem to assume that resources were infinite and the planet was more than capable of coping with our activities. Unfortunately, that is no longer true with over 7 billion of us on this rock floating through space. There is no umbilical cord; we get a (very useful) daily allowance of fresh sunlight, but the physical resources we have are, well, all we have.
Why does all of this matter? As the above headlines show, we’re trashing the planet at a frightening rate and causing all sorts of irreversible damage (but at least we’ll have High Definition pictures of rainforests and wildlife to show our grandchildren what they looked like). Climate change is wreaking havoc on communities around the globe with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns ruining crops and livelihoods and steadily rising sea levels threatening coastal settlements. Many predict that the wars of the coming decades will be fought over fresh water – even the current carnage in Syria was substantially triggered by severe droughts. And through all of this it’s the poor who will suffer the most.
This is all very concerning you say, but what does it have to do with me? Unfortunately you (and I) are partly to blame. Society has created such a complex, interconnected global economic system that virtually everything you do and buy impacts people and the planet in numerous ways. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the things you buy, the waste you produce, your travel, the company you work for, the investments you make – every single one of them.
In response to Jesus’s love for us, we are called to care for the poor and to steward the world God created for us. We simply cannot ignore these issues; indeed, as Christians, we should be leading the charge to tackle them. And the good news is that we can change from being part of the problem to part of the solution.
Three (first) steps to a healthier world
So what can we practically do about all this? Actually there’s many things, but let’s start with three simple steps.
- Firstly, buy less. Think about your buying habits and ask yourself whether you need to buy as much as you do. Do you really need that next item of clothing or the very latest mobile phone? Wouldn’t your current model last another year and be perfectly fine? Every time you don’t buy something, you are helping to conserve the world’s scarce resources. It really is that simple, with the added bonus that it’ll save you money!
- Second, buy thoughtfully. Start thinking about the possible impact of everything you buy and ask yourself whether you could buy something better. An easy example is Fairtrade tea and coffee where efforts are made to ensure that the farmers are paid fairly for their produce. Or similarly, could you switch your electricity tariff to a renewable energy tariff to help reduce your impact on climate change? A more complex example might be considering whether your next car could be a hybrid or fully electric model. Or perhaps you could cycle or walk to the town to go shopping rather than use the car at all! Some of these things will have significant cost implications and therefore might not be possible for everyone, but if we start to think this way and make small changes, the effects will add up over time.
- Thirdly, repair, re-use and recycle. Commit yourself to making a break from the disposable society! Rather than automatically throwing things away, think about whether the item could be repaired or repurposed in some way. If that’s not practical, then can it be recycled? We’re very lucky here in Ware that most everyday items such as paper, cardboard, tins, bottles, plastic, etc. can be recycled on our doorsteps with little effort – there really is no excuse to throw any of it away! Many larger items (e.g. metal, electronics) can be recycled at the tip – take a look at their website for details. Chucking something in the bin should become the absolute last resort when no other options are available. And while you’re at it, encourage your neighbours to take recycling seriously and campaign to make recycling consistent and simple everywhere.
So there we go – three simple steps. I’m sure many of you already do some of them, but just think what a difference we could start to make if the whole church family committed to all three in 2017. And to help start us off, the PCC has signed Christ Church up to be an Eco Church (see www.ecochurch.arocha.org.uk) which will give us all ideas and helpful guidelines to make our lifestyles as individuals and as a church more sustainable and to lessen our impact on the planet.
Watch this space….Environment, Magazine