It’s pretty much human nature to greet beginnings with a determination to accomplish something new and good. Even if you are not a resolution-maker, you probably feel the impulse. Most New Year’s resolutions tend to be related to exercise and/or food, and even most of the well-intentioned ones begin to fade in February. This year you are invited to look at the larger picture when creating a list of things to do in the new year and consider the ways you can make a difference in the future of our planet.
There are plenty of opportunities to care for creation and plenty of need for that care. Even though the problems are often global and require the attention of world leaders acting in concert, there are numerous things that an individual can do to contribute to the effort. Here is a brief list of to-dos that, with the collective effort of many individuals, can help in the care of creation.
1. Reduce the carbon footprint of your food.
There are many things involved in food production that have an effect on the environment, including land use, transportation, use of pesticides, and food waste. The total package of what it takes to produce a global food supply generates twice as much pollution as all the cars on the planet. Be mindful of where your food comes from and how it was produced. Look for sustainably sourced food whenever you can.
2. Reduce meat consumption.
The steps it takes to maintain and harvest livestock in order to get it on your table accounts for 49% of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. You can help improve the effects of harmful emissions by avoiding meat consumption, cutting back, and looking for meat alternatives.
3. Buy food from local farms and/or grow your own produce.
In the past few years, access to locally grown food has improved in many areas. Wherever possible, select products from local sources. Or, as many of the churches in our diocese have done, become involved in a community garden or farm project, and share the harvest with others.
4. Compost natural waste.
More than 60 billion pounds of food material goes into U.S. landfills each year. If you compost your natural waste instead of sending it to the garbage, you’ll help cut back that huge amount of waste and end up with some great soil enhancers for your own garden.
5. Cut down on single-use plastics and microplastics.
Some 7 billion tons of plastic waste end up in landfills and in the environment, particularly in the ocean. Do your part to help reduce that harmful statistic by avoiding single-use plastics, like plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bags, and plastic straws.
6. Learn about and vote for climate-friendly policies.
There are many environmental degradations that can be alleviated through sound environmental policy. Progress has been made through the polls by working to pass environmentally friendly steps such as banning plastic bags and harmful pesticides.
7. Be conscious of your energy efficiency.
Buying energy-efficient appliances, hybrid or electric cars, setting your thermostats lower in the winter and higher in the summer, perhaps investing in solar panels for your home are all actions that can have positive effects on air, water, and climate issues.
8. Recycle or reuse as much as you can.
Know the recycling opportunities in your area and participate fully.
9. Lead by example.
Be transparent in your environmental stewardship efforts and talk to others about the importance of actively caring for creation.
10. Help your church initiate or expand environmental stewardship ministries.
There are all sorts of ways that environmental stewardship can and should be incorporated into the daily life of the church. Projects such as community gardens, education particularly for young people, preaching, prayer, the recognition of environmental stewardship in your mission statement and strategic plans – all these can contribute to a rich environmental stewardship ministry in your church.
(Thanks to “EcoWatch” and the Environmental Protection Agency for information used here.)