I am learning from my daughter Bethany how I can more environmentally conscious. Thank you, Bethany, for teaching me some things! This is important because God created this world and gave us the job of taking care of it (See Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:8; Leviticus 25:23-24; Psalm 8:6-8). I want to be a good steward and do my part. It often saves us money too which is an added bonus!
Here are some of the things I do – some I’ve done for years and others I have adopted more recently:
- Conserve water: Jordan is ranked third in the world in terms of “water poorness”, so we had lots of practice with this one – I take short showers, I never take baths (it’s not good for your skin to soak anyway); I heat up water in a tea kettle to wash dishes instead of wasting water down the drain while waiting for it to warm up; I shut off water while brushing teeth; I run my washing machine or my dishwasher only when they are full or nearly full.
- Recycle: in Knoxville, we have to pay extra to recycle but it is worth it to us – recycling plastic, glass, paper and tin has drastically cut down on our amount of garbage that is destined for the landfill. When we have a garden, I try to compost vegetable and fruit scraps.
- Reuse and repurpose: I reuse wrapping paper and gift bags unless they are in bad shape. I use the Sunday comics to wrap gifts. I use empty shoe boxes for storing things, to wrap gifts in, etc. I use socks with holes for cleaning rags.
- Give away and declutter: When Rick and I were in med school/grad school and having babies, we loved getting hand-me-downs of clothing, toys, books, and household items. Now we get to bless others by handing things down to them. I have friends that work with refugees locally and I give them a lot of our hand-me-downs to distribute, but if you don’t have friends who need your things or individuals you know who distribute things to the needy, you can give things to the Salvation Army or another group. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. It’s better for someone to benefit from using something instead of having it gathering dust in your closet, attic, or garage. Remember, “less is more”
- Choose re-usable plates/cups/silverware/bags over disposable ones when possible (I am not OCD about this – I will use disposable when I need to). I try to bring my own coffee cup to Panera/Einstein’s when meeting a friend, so my coffee costs me less and I don’t have to throw away the cup afterwards. We bring reusable bags to the grocery store to carry our groceries
- Conserve fuel/energy: I try to plan my errands together in the same area on the same trip, I slow down well before coming to a red light, and I try not to speed in order to save on gas. We run our A/C at 77 degrees in the summer and our heat at around 68 in the winter (for some this may be too hot or too cold but it works for us and we have learned to dress in layers); we turn off the A/C or turn the heat way down when we’re going to be gone for an extended period of time. We shut off lights and other electric items when leaving the room or the house. I never wash my clothes in hot water – it takes a lot of energy to heat up the water and also causes the clothing to wear out and fade more quickly.
- Conserve on paper: if my napkin is not very dirty, I save it for the next meal (if you’re really green, you can use cloth napkins). I try to use both sides of the paper when printing things. I cut up discarded paper that has blank space to use as scrap paper for lists (or for art projects when my kids were younger).
- Borrow instead of buy: we use the library a lot to borrow books, Kindle books, and DVDs. We borrow things that we use infrequently from friends or family instead of buying them.
“Within the small and daily choices we make, we discover the natural blending of obedient creation-stewardship and God-honoring simplicity… Most of the things we do to be good stewards of the earth involve not spending money—not running to the mall for things you don’t need, not buying stuff that just ends up in our attics and closets and basements, not running out for fast food which is actually more expensive than cooking a simple homemade meal…We need to think of creation care as a journey. In my family, we continually and prayerfully examine every area of our lives and see if we can do a bit better each year. If we can do 10 percent better each year, then we know we’re on the right path.” Kelli Trujillo in Today’s Christian Woman
Other ways to conserve: make your own cleaning products; eat less red meat; carpool; share and/or borrow your magazines; pay bills electronically; use a water filter instead of buying bottled water.
I hope you’ll be inspired to adopt some of these practices too. I’d love for you to comment on some of the things you do that aren’t listed here – I’d love to learn more.