For those of you observing Lent, it is now easier than ever to curb your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint. This year, the United Church of Christ has sent out invitations to members, encouraging them to apply the Lenten principles of “repentance, fasting, prayer, study, and works of love” to the environment, by committing to a carbon fast for Lent. Those who wish to participate can sign up online to receive daily emails with suggestions for how to reduce your carbon footprint in small ways each day, which will hopefully add up to big changes for the Earth by the end of the 40 day time period. The reason behind this recent environmental movement is primarily to stress that climate change is not only a scientific and political issue, but a moral one as well.
But is it really our moral obligation to “go green”? Apparently, more and more religious leaders are joining scientists in urging people to avoid skepticism about climate change. We all know that our planet and its resources are finite, and it has become overwhelmingly clear that environmental consciousness is not just a fad. Indicators of climate change are happening all around us; seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising. The Bishop of London, Rev Richard Chartres, in an interview last year with Christian Today, said “It’s the poorest people in developing countries, who have done the least to cause climate change, that are being hit hardest by its devastating consequences.” So climate change has already drastically affected the lives of many people. If we don’t act now, climate change may permanently alter the Earth in such a way that it will be impossible to go back and undo the damage we have done.
Even if you do not plan on observing Lent, there are still plenty of small changes you can make that can result in significant reductions of the impact your life is having on the planet. One way to get started would be to visit The Nature Conservancy website, and access the Carbon Footprint Calculator to calculate the effect that your daily choices are having on the environment. It may also be helpful to think about the small things we do every day and how they have an impact on the planet. For instance, do you pay attention to which garbage cans you use when throwing away trash on campus? Do you let your car idle in the parking lot while waiting to go into class? Do you leave the computer on in your dorm when it is not in use? Are your eating habits environmental friendly? We all have things that we can do better.
Here are some suggestions to get you started on the path to be kinder to our planet, either during Lent or over the long run:
Eat a PB&J: http://www.pbjcampaign.org/
Get Rid of Your Junk Mail: https://www.catalogchoice.org/
Instead of Buying Something New, Get Something Used for Free: http://www.freecycle.org/
Recycle Used Cell Phones: http://www.call2recycle.org/
Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle: http://www.kleankanteen.com/
Encourage Your Family to Stay in a Green Hotel: http://greenhotels.com/index.php