We find ourselves living during a time of a green revolution, a time when people are shopping locally, driving their cars less and simply being more environmentally conscious. But what does it actually mean to go “green”? What does it mean to live intentionally in regards to the way we treat the environment? What does it look like to make socially conscious choices in regards to the way we live our lives and the choices we make?
Recently, my perception of the environment has been challenged, and I have been reminded that God did not create us to be mere users and consumers of the Earth, but stewards of it. For the past few months, I have been asking myself these tough questions, and I decided that I needed to make some changes. I have started using my bike as a method of transportation rather than as decoration, and I have become obsessive about reusable bags. I have been extremely diligent with yard waste and recycling, and I have rummaged through the garbage a few too many times. Going green is hard! It is much easier to talk about all the things we could do than it is to actually do it, but the bottom line is going green is worth it.
I have been riding my bike to work and I love it—well, I love it now that I have overcome my fear of getting hit by a car. It is extremely freeing. The simple act of getting on my bike makes me feel as though I am making an immediate environmental difference. There is nothing better than feeling the wind on my skin, and I can’t say I get that same satisfaction in my car—maybe I would if I stuck my whole body really far out the window, but we know that wouldn’t be safe. However, it is hard to get up earlier so that I can get to work on time because let’s face it; I’m just not as fast on my bike as I am in my car, and the sweat that drips down my arms and face is not that attractive. There truly is nothing better than getting off my bike after a ride and realizing that I not only got myself to and from work, but I burned calories and saved money on gas while doing it!
I have become a little obsessive about using reusable bags, and I get a little upset when I see others using plastic bags. I want to thrust one of my bags into their hands and say, “Here, use this because this is ‘green’ and reusable.” I want to give them a lecture about buying reusable bags and the benefits of using them, but instead of the lecture I simmer down and keep quiet. I just wonder how long it will be until stores stop offering plastic bags. Shops in other countries charge people for the use of plastic bags—I wonder how long it will be until we start doing the same. When I lived in Ireland I remember thinking, I must bring bags with me to the shop because I don’t want to pay money for those darn things. If people had to pay money for plastic bags here I wonder if they would forget their reusable bags.
Composting and yard waste is a beautiful thing. After a few months, I have truly seen a huge decrease in our actual waste, which is extremely reassuring, but it is a tough task to undertake if your roommates aren’t willing to dispose of their food scraps appropriately. However, after much harping and after seeing me take things out of the bin that they had just placed in it, they have begun to see how serious I am, and I think they got a little tired of seeing me rummage through the garbage! It is so easy to just throw everything away, and it takes time to figure out what can go in the yard waste and what can be recycled, but it is worth it.
We have been called to live out the Kingdom of God here on Earth and to be stewards of this Earth the Lord has blessed us with. We must fully believe that the Lord has the power to transform our way of living and our thinking. We must take personal responsibility for the way we live our lives and for the choices we make in regards to how we treat the Earth and each other. We must start to recognize that our decisions and choices have lasting consequences, and the way we choose to live our lives now affects future generations. We must change our way of thinking and allow ourselves a new vision for the future. Jesus provides us with a solution, another way of living that favors the environment, and we must believe that His way, His world is possible and we must begin living it now, here on Earth as He has called us to.
Once we alter our lives and our way of thinking, and start to think about how our choices have an impact on our neighbors, we will start to see that we are bound to each other. The choices we make affect those locally and globally. Our local farmers suffer when we don’t shop locally and our global community suffers when we make choices that are not environmentally sound. We cannot continue to live as though we have the world’s resources at our fingertips, we must begin to live within limits and consume within reason. What would it look like if America consumed only what it produced? We must consume less because today’s consumption is a major cause of environmental degradation. We must not be irreverent and apathetic toward the environment. We must do our part to conserve the Eearth’s resources because when we honor the environment, we honor God.
Going green is a process, and I always feel as though there is so much more I could be doing. However, I have learned that change is important even if it is small. Those small changes can have a great impact not only on you, but also on others. They can change the way you view yourself, the environment, the world and especially God. Even something small can turn into something beautiful!