BY KATEY LEE
Have you ever thought about the earth? Like, really thought about it? How it’s positioned perfectly in our little solar system, just the right distance from the sun to not freeze or burn up? How all of the ecosystems and all of the processes and pieces fit together to form intricate environments all over the planet? How when you peel back layers and layers of how it all works, the glory of God is revealed in the teeny tiny details that make everything function the way it does?
It’s pretty dang amazing, isn’t it?
Genesis talks about how God “formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens” and how He brought them to Adam for him to name (Genesis 2:19). He gave man dominion over the animals and over the earth (Genesis 1:25). He made us caretakers of this little earth that He created for us to inhabit. So many places in the Bible say God was (and, I believe, still is) pleased with His creation; that the earth literally sings His praises!
Alas, here we are. Just do a quick Google search about climate change, waste management (seriously, check out what happens to plastic when you throw it away… hint: NOTHING), greenhouse gasses; real, actual scientists are doing real, actual research and presenting us with real, actual facts. Let’s not be foolish and dismiss it or call it conspiracy just because it makes us uncomfortable to consider. Even if these things are half as serious as your Google search tells you, that still makes them pretty dang serious.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that God is cool with pollution and deforestation and rising temperatures and miles of "trash islands" filling the ocean and all of the things that humans have done to the earth that are messing with His specifically, specially designed creatures and ecosystems.
I am not here to convince you of climate change or to shame you or preach at you or argue with you. I simply want to bring to your attention, firstly, the incredible God-given value that our planet has, and, most importantly, our God-given responsibility to be a good steward of the earth.
I think He wants us to care. Not only to care ABOUT these things but to care FOR the earth; to play an active role in the conservation and restoration of His creation.
But how often do we ignore or forget this responsibility that He has given us?
I doubt that any of us would say that we do so on purpose, that we don’t care about the planet or creation. But the reality is, our planet is not doing so well right now. So what are you going to do about it?
Well, I’m not going to tell you what to do. That’s not really my style. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I did and give you some resources so that you can decide for yourself what to do.
1. I went vegan.
In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about it on my personal blog that you can read here. So I will spare you the long-winded details (please read my post if you’re interested!), but here are the basics:
After really learning about the sorry state of our planet and realizing how much the animal agriculture industry contributes to all of the gross stuff that’s happening to the earth, not to mention the abhorrent treatment of the animals that go into these places, I felt convicted. I could no longer contribute to these things in good conscience, so I stopped. I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or any of the other weird animal products found in food, and I only buy vegan/cruelty-free clothes, toiletries, and cleaning products.
2. I’ve adopted lots of low/zero-waste ways of living.
First of all, ditch single-use plastics. That stuff sucks and there’s really no good reason to use a plastic straw or cup anymore. Get reusable bags for grocery shopping and produce, buy in bulk to avoid plastic packaging, bring a reusable tumbler to the coffee shop, buy glass/metal straws, make your own cleaning products from eco-friendly ingredients, reuse bottles and containers, buy your clothes and furniture second-hand; there are SO MANY easy, simple changes that you can make.
All of the lifestyle changes I’ve made over the past few years have been thoroughly researched and fueled by my passionately-held belief that it is the right thing to do. In a very empowering way, I feel that there is no other choice for me.
Whether or not you feel this conviction to the same degree that I do, I think we can all agree that making small changes, taking baby steps toward reducing waste and lessening our impact on the planet has only GOOD results. Not only good results for the earth, but for you, too. You’ll feel good going to bed every night knowing you saved a plastic cup by bringing your Hydro Flask to the coffee shop (which, depending on how often you get coffee, could be hundreds of cups a year!) or that you saved a thousand gallons of water (seriously, in ONE day) by sticking to a vegan diet.
I believe that faith should be reflected in all aspects of life and the journey of realizing my conviction and ultimately being able to live out these things that I believe in such a real, tangible way has been something unique that I think, unfortunately, a lot of Christians miss out on.
The ease of access we have to meat and animal products, the significance given to American Food Culture (bacon, hamburgers, steaks, CHEESE), the instant gratification of single-use plastics, the sheer volume of trash and waste that we produce, and the ignorance about the processes and impact of the systems behind these things is very much an ingrained piece of American culture. Where does your food come from? Where does your trash go when you throw it away? The answers to these questions almost always make us uncomfortable because we're not used to considering them in the decisions that we make. Let yourself be confronted by the reality of the impact we have in our decisions that we make on a daily basis. Instead of feeling attacked or ashamed or discouraged, pray about it. Sit with it. Ask God what He would have you do about it.
I’ve linked a few articles that I’ve written that contain more about my personal journey as well as lots of great resources and recipes, but if you have further questions/comments/concerns/etc., I’d love to hear them!