The Mission Intern class of 2012 recently held our quarterly meeting to talk about our call to action, which includes a section about climate change/ ecojustice/ creation care. Those presenting the meeting asked us to share our creation care practices with somebody as a way to spread awareness. So I’m going to share the ways that I address climate change with all of you! But I want to share a little bit about my philosophy around creation care.
I believe the the earth is a gift from God and God entrusted us with its care. We practice service to others and the earth by taking care of it. We must understand that most of us constantly consume resources; food, water, oil, etc. And the way to care for our creation is to reduce our consumption of its resources.
However, in our consumption driven culture, creation care can seem daunting and confusing, and we sometimes do not know where to start. We frequently hear stories of “extreme” things and say to ourselves, “well I can’t do that” and we continue our consumption with reckless abandon. But I also believe that we need to go far beyond turning off the lights when we leave a room. I fully support the age old mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose and re-something else” (I’m sorry that I can’t remember the final one!). I began personally addressing my consumption by starting with reduce. If we all simply reduced our consumption, we could seriously reduce our carbon footprint.
Finally, we often mention steps to reduce consumption that are cost preventative to most people (such as buying organic food). Although I fully support and buy mostly organic and local food, I completely understand the difficulty that arise when we only discuss ways to reduce consumption the cost people more money. Some ways to address climate change actually cost less and maybe we can use those savings to shift money into buying earth conscious food.
So here I want to list out several ways that I personally try to reduce, reuse, recycle:
1. The easy one: reusable bags. If you go to the grocery store, bring reusable bags. I also save the plastic bags that I use to pick out fruit and veggies and reuse those.
2. Household items: plastic baggies, paper towels and cleaning supplies. As a house, we wash and reuse the ziploc plastic bags several times. I try to use cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels to clean up spills. Finally, my housemates and I use easy- to- make cleaning products instead of store bought chemicals. (This one saves money). For example, white vinegar diluted with water cleans and disinfects just about anything and it costs way less than Clorox spray kitchen cleaner. I also use Castille soap diluted with water and baking soda to mop, clean the bathroom, etc. You can find ideas and recipes through a simple Google search.
3. Laundry soap: My housemates and I make our own laundry detergent from a recipe found on the Internet. We spend about $20 for 6 months worth of detergent that is free of phosphate and other harsh chemicals.
4. Menstrual Cup: This one is for ladies to use instead of tampons or pads. I won’t provide a ton of details, but I love mine and women produce WAY more trash than men simply due to our tampon and pad consumption.
5. Drive less: Again, this one depends on access to public transit and walkability, but I know that more people have access to public transit (for instance in Dallas) and simply do not use it because it takes “too long.” However, cars simply use a ton of energy and are just not efficient. We will never really address our consumption until we break our addiction to cars. So maybe choose a day or two a week to take the bus instead of driving.
6. Compost: Again, something that can seem “extreme.” I know that a lot of people live in apartments and simply cannot compost, but a lot of don’t. Also, a number of cities now have companies that will pick up your compost. If you do have a yard, you can actually compost directly in the soil. Simply dig a hole, add some water and cover it back up. No grains, meat or dairy.
7. Travel mugs and water bottles: Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. And pack your own water. Tap water is WAY less expensive than bottled water, and most bottled water companies have questionable ethics.
8. AC/Heat: Set the temperature in your house lower in the winter and higher in the summer, esp. during the day when you’re not home. Again, this saves money and energy.
9. Packaging: try to buy things in bulk with less packaging. Also reuse plastic and glass packaging. I started using plastic containers for my lunch instead of using Ziploc baggies. We also store our food leftovers in plastic containers.
10. Food: Buy local, organic and seasonal. I know that it can cost more money. But buying seasonal will reduce cost, and sometimes farmers markets are cheaper than grocery stores depending on when you go, etc. You can also choose a few items, such as dairy to buy organic.
11. Final one ADVOCACY: We need major impacts and policy changes to enact real changes. Talk to your church, organization about ways to enact some of these things. (I recently asked my church to stop using styrofoam cups) Find out about the policy changes in your area and support them. For example, California recently passed a state-wide tax on plastic bags, but many other cities have similar initiatives. Many organizations, such as Clean Water Action, organize around these issues, find out what they are and consider getting involved.
I’m also looking for new ideas and ways to further reduce my consumption. Any suggestions??? What are ways that you guys address consumption??