Selflessness and Sacrifice

church earthIt’s environmental care week on the blog.  In case you missed Monday’s intro post (spurred on by earth day), we are talking about a Christian response to caring for the environment.  I’d love for this week to be a conversation, so please link up, comment, and share.  I’ want to hear your thoughts and implementation of caring for the environment.

In all of my learnings, musings, and elementary practice of environmental care, one theme is consistent: In order for me to care for the earth, I am going to have to sacrifice.  If I don’t change the way that I dispose of waste, or the things that I purchase, or the amount that I purchase, or what I drive, or how I drive…  nothing changes in the world.

Sacrifice is a strong word, because even in my “sacrifice” I am living an easy life.  And even in my “sacrifice” I can still sacrifice far more.

My selfishness inflicts pain, difficulty, poverty, loss of resources, and loss of freedom for others around the world.  My husband and I owned an SUV for several years, and we placed a toll on our environment.  I choose to eat my favorite produce year-round, which places a toll on our environment.  I choose to get paper cups when I purchase an afternoon chai rather than use my morning’s coffee mug, which places a toll on our environment.

“The earth was designed to sustain every generation’s needs, not be plundered in an attempt to meet one generation’s wants” (Sleeth)

My choices of whether to buy that certain type of wood could mean home displacement for a resident in a heavily forested area in South America.  My choices of whether to take the time to scoop out and rinse that gross plastic container (you know, the one with mold growing in it) or just throw it all away could mean health or cancer for my neighbor.  My choice of whether to use that bleach product that makes me feel like the bathroom is squeaky clean could mean healthy or toxic streams.

The thing that comes between me and making good choices for the earth is selfishness.

And the honest truth is, that as a Christ-follower, I don’t really have the option for selfishness.

“The Christian is not at liberty to do whatever he likes.  Christians are constrained by conviction to think about their lives, their actions, and their responsibilities.” (Sleeth)

22,000 children die each day in poverty

2,000 children die each day from having unclean water

More than 1 million Americans get cancer every year 

159 million Americans live in areas with polluted air

40% of rivers, lakes, and streams in the US are too polluted to fish or swim

3.5 million tons of trash have been dumped in the pacific ocean

Americans make up an estimated 5% of the world’s population, however, Americans produce an estimated 40% of the world’s waste, eat 15% of the world’s meat, and use 20% of the world’s energy.

I don’t want to be a part of contributing to these statistics, and as a Christ-follower, the only place I should have in these statistics is in reducing them.

What do you think about this?  What sacrifices have you made to make the work more sustainable for others?

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5 thoughts on “Selflessness and Sacrifice

  1. Allison- I think one obstacle to action is information overload. It’s a lot to sort through, deciding which consumption to curb, which area to begin living more responsibly.

    One area we’ve decided to target is meat consumption. I want to eat less meat, but eat meat that is raised responsibly (grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, etc.). I watched a Ted talk where the presenter suggested doing “weekday veg,” i.e. only eating meat on the weekends. So that’s one place we’re starting.

    1. Erika, I agree, there is so much information,and so many areas in which we can change that it can be really overwhelming.

      I love that you targeted an area and are living that out. That’s a huge one, too. We’ve been really convicted about meat, as well, but we haven’t gone all the way to a weekday veg. I like that idea a lot.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I agree with Erika. There is so much information out there, so many places to start it can get really overwhelming. Where do you get your information from? Do you have any suggestions for good resources online where you can look up whether a company/product is ethical/sustainable?

    1. Hey Susan,
      There is SO much information out there, and in so many places. Sometimes it’s hard to know whose telling the truth and where to start.

      I started with this whole quest with reading a book called Serve God Save the Planet. In the back, the author gave a ton of super practical ways to cut down on consumption. And then I stated spending a lot of time with friends who were really educated about sustainability, reducing waste, health, and world issues. I watched how they lived differently, and because I’m inquisitive, I asked a whole lot of questions. From there, I kept reading news articles, books… Recently I read another good and practical read called Everyday Justice. I like theory mixed with practical.

      I’m still by no means an expert, I still look a lot of things up. I try to look at sources that I’ve heard of before, that have a good reputation for sound research. fairtradeusa.org has a lot of good info about ethical/sustainable products. And I’m sure there are others. I’ll put it out there, anyone else have some sound resources?

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