Monday, April 4, 2011

Is “Going Green” the Christian Thing to Do?

This month, we will be exploring some themes of sustainability and the environment leading us up to Earth Day celebrations. This is the first installment of our Earth Day tribute.

By Jim Lindsay, Catholic Volunteer Network Executive Director


When most Christians hear the word “stewardship,” they probably think of how they handle their time, talent or treasure. But what about being good stewards of the earth? We should seek to be good stewards of all that God has created, safeguarding it until God’s return when all creation will be restored. When we mindlessly consume and live without any regard for what effects our actions have on creation and its inhabitants, what are we really saying about that creation?

The Scriptures gives us direction as to what we are supposed to do with God's creation. But it is often the truth of what's happening around the world that helps us break open the Scriptures.

Here are some disquieting statistics, provided by Carbon Central Network (www.carboncentralnetwork.com):
  • If every newspaper in the United States was recycled, about 250 million trees would be saved each year.
  • 2 million plastic bottles are used in the U.S. every 5 minutes. - portfolio.com
  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
  • Citizens in the United States spend $25 billion a year on lawn care. Residential lawns and gardens are doused with 80 million pounds of chemical pesticides and 70 million tons of fertilizers annually. – Environmental Protection Agency
  • Although United States citizens constitute only 5% of the global population, they account for more than 30% of the world's waste.
  • If the entire world lived like the average American citizen, we'd need 5 planets to provide enough resources.
  • 3 million people are killed each year by outdoor air pollution caused by vehicle and industrial emissions.
  • 1% of landfill space is occupied by disposable diapers (which take 500 years to decompose).
  • 850 million trees are consumed each year solely by Americans' paper use.
  • 40,000 children die each day from preventable diseases.
  • 50 to 100 plant and animal species become extinct each year because we destroy their habitats.
  • The current generation of children may not be as environmentally conscious as we might hope. Studies have shown that children can identify as many as 1,000 corporate logos, but are unable to identify 10 plants or animals in their own backyards. - Children in Nature
It’s easy to feel that our small individual actions don’t really make a difference. But the seemingly unimportant steps we can take to conserve the energy we use have a significant bearing on our earth. For some simple suggestions of what you can do, check out: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/save-earth-top-ten.htm

Being a steward over God's creation sounds great and responsible, doesn’t it? But deciding to be more environmentally friendly is the easy part. Actually doing it is more difficult. Going green means keeping ourselves up-to-date on what does harm to the environment. It may also mean doing without some of life’s conveniences. But in time, becoming environmentally friendly will just be a natural thing to do in order to care for God's creation!