In the youth-led worship service on March 5, our amazing teenagers, led by our Youth Ministry Interns Grace Dearhamer and Hayden Skaggs, wrestled with the question: “How am I working to protect and enhance God’s creation?” That’s a good question for all of us to ask, ponder, study, and pray about I think. Here are some of my thoughts and personal actions.
I have always considered myself to be proactive in my care for God’s good earth:
- I have recycled faithfully since my college days.
- I used cloth diapers exclusively with Rachel for the first year of her life. Once she got mobile, we were dealing with leaks at every turn, so I gave in and switched to disposables. With a little more research and a willingness to invest in different gear, I think I could have continued using cloth diapers longer, but hey—I was trying to work full time and had an excessively long commute (3 hours daily). I did my best. (More on that in a minute.)
- I use tote bags for my groceries.
- I participate in several CSAs (community supported agriculture programs) that provide me with locally-grown and produced fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, and flowers.
- I also recently started eating a vegetarian diet.
I am proud of all these actions, small though they are. And, I recognize that there is still more I can do.
For example, I have only recently become aware of the challenges of plastics recycling. Even though these products technically are recyclable, the hard truth is that there is very little market for recycling plastics. Many of the plastic bottles, containers, etc. that I have dutifully cleaned, sorted, and taken to recycling centers for over thirty years now still end up in a landfill. A story called “Recycling Plastic Is Practically Impossible” aired on the October 24, 2022 broadcast of All Things Considered on NPR last October opened my eyes to the issue.
So, lately I have been making an effort to reduce my plastics use. Let me tell you, it is hard! Plastic is everywhere. I have come to the conclusion that I won’t be able to eliminate plastic usage entirely, but I am doing my best. (See comment above.)
- When I buy products at the store, I intentionally look for metal, paper, cardboard, or glass packaging and avoid buying products in plastic packaging. It’s not always possible, but I can see that my plastic use has already been reduced in just these few months of intentional purchasing.
- I have replaced all the pump hand soaps in my house with bar soaps.
- I am now using a bar dishwashing soap. (The first product I tried was subpar, so I’m now on my second go-around. So far I like this new one.)
- I have been trying out various shampoo bars. The jury is still out on this; I’ve been through three different products so far and am not sold on any of them. But—hey!—again, I am doing my best. Which I think is a good goal for all of us.
I have long-heard of micro-plastics in the oceans and waterways. I always assumed this was from plastic packaging that somehow found its way into the water—dropped or blown in or washed downstream, etc. I now know that the two main sources of micro-plastics in our waterways are from the breakdown of tires as we drive and fibers from synthetic clothing that come out in the wash. I was stunned to learn this. There’s not much I can do at this point in my life about the tire issue. Quite frankly, the clothing issue is going to be difficult too, as most of my clothes are made from synthetics. However, I have made the commitment that when I need to replace something, I will look for a natural fiber alternative. More expensive, yes. Challenging, yes. But…I am doing my best.
Which in the end is all any of us can do. “How am I working to protect and enhance God’s creation?” our youth asked us last Sunday. These are some of the ways I am responding to their question. Let’s start a conversation. What are some of the ways you are working to protect and enhance God’s creation?