7 read-a-long (chapter 5: waste)

Two or three years ago (ish), this chapter would’ve made little to no impact on me. A complete “waste” of my time, if you will. I could’ve written these words from p. 118:

Does “creation” have anything to do with God whom I call “Creator”? Oh, pish posh. Surely God isn’t worried about how we handle His creation that He created. His main concern is making His followers happy and prosperous, yes? And if we need to consume the rest of His creation to make us happy, then I’m sure God doesn’t mind.

And these: Only Democrats and loosey-goosey liberals care about the earth. It’s a giant conspiracy to distract us from the abortion and gay issues, which evidently are the only subjects worth worrying about.

Cough, cough, choke. I am horrifically embarrassed and ashamed to admit that that is EXACTLY what I used to think. And a few months ago, I mustered up enough courage to write An Apology to Democrats (and Jesus), but goodness, it sure felt a bit too-little-too-late. Good thing it’s never too late to tell Jesus you’re sorry.

So, today’s topic: WASTE. But first, another list of excuses for why I won’t be as engaged in today’s discussion as I’d love to be. My beloved Grandma died this weekend, and family is going to start pouring in from all kinds of places. Soccer started tonight (Monday), one of my daughters is sick, Gabe is still struggling (but I’ve got some good news to share on that front), and I’m speaking at a MOPS group tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

That’s why I’m not going to say a whole lot of my own stuff or copy down every quote of Jen’s I found hilarious (like how she’d rather have her saliva permanently transmuted to urine than spend extended time at the mall–AMEN.).

I’m going to ask you 1 question, and then ask you to share YOUR story. And I’m going to urge you to be honest and bold, even if you haven’t even begun to do one single thing right in this area yet. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, I can pretty much guaranteed it.

Here we go!

1. Which of Jen’s 7 Habits for a Greener Life are you already doing, and which are you hankering (or feeling convicted) to try? And what things would you add?

Gardening
Composting
Conserving energy and water
Recycling
Driving only one car
Shopping thrift and second-hand
Buying only local

2. Tell us your green/waste/earth day/creation care story. Your past story, your now story, what you’d love your story to be someday. Be honest, be real. If you’re already awesome at this, try to be humble so we don’t hate you. Just tell your story. We love stories!

46 thoughts on “7 read-a-long (chapter 5: waste)

  1. Pingback: 7 Read Along - Waste | Living the Life of a Frugal Trophy Wife

  2. brooke

    marla – i’m sorry for your loss. love and hugs friend.

    i’m late to this discussion (getting to be a habit isn’t it?) because i’m just now coming out of my marathon weekend feeling like a human again.

    this isn’t a chapter that particularly compelled me, which is one reason i wanted to be sure to blog it. am i apathetic or is this truly an issue i’ve honestly considered bringing me to my current position?

  3. Andrea

    I loved this chapter. Probably because I feel pretty good about this area. I wrote about some of my ways of reducing waste in link 10, but there are a lot of others. I even forgot to write about recycling plastic, junk mail, aluminum, etc at home and work because it’s so second-nature I just forget it applies. Ha. I definitely could still do more though. My favorite part of the chapter was Jen describing the KP project. Urban agriculture as a way to contribute to community and as a solution to homelessness. How brilliant. Austin, big kudos to you. If you weren’t so hot, you would make me want to move to Texas.

  4. Melissa

    Loved this chapter because I felt like it’s the one we are doing the best with 🙂 We’ve been pretty green for most of our marriage, partly due to the fact we lived in the Clintonville area of Columbus, which is pretty granola 🙂 But we are also frugal…so we’d haul our recycling to the free dumpster instead of paying for it. And my husband loves to garden and we had a nice plot in our small backyard. But then last year we moved back to my family farm so we can take it to a whole new level and raise our own meat (poultry for now) and grow many of our own veggies. For me, I hate how “issues” can be so polarizing…like only “liberals” can be “green”. If we are all just trying to love God and love others than this should be an area to not ignore. Today at the park I picked up litter that others had left behind and I explained to my kids that people who do this (and all of us by nature) are selfish and lazy and how that doesn’t show others the love of Christ.

  5. Tonia

    Okay, one more interesting thing. My daughter randomly picked up the children’s book called Garbage Barge. Check it out if you’re interested in teaching your youngsters a little bit about where our trash goes and how much of it we make.

    Did you know that the avg. American produces 4 lbs. of trash per day?

  6. Tonia

    I loved this chapter. There is so much going on in my head about it, but I’m just going to be short and quick. I’d like to really focus on every area that she did, but I’m going to do one thing at a time. So, my first goal will to be to decrease my trash and increase my recycling. We live a few miles form the landfill (so depressing and stinky). Trash is picked up TWICE a week in TX, recycling only once, yard waste NEVER. So, I’m going to make it a point to recycle as much as possible, and buy less individually packaged items so we have less trash overall.

    Oh, I loved the whole “give your dog the old water” totally doing that now.

    My “story”…focusing on the future here: Compost, rain barrel, backyard garden, totally could do the one car since my hubby takes bus to work, buy more second hand (gotta love garage sales and consignment shops). I’d love to get to the point where we have one small bag of trash a week max. I’d totally be up for doing the KP project in Houston. Need to check that out.

    The one big thing I did in the past was cloth diapers for about 2 1/2 yrs. Bought and sold a lot of used ones, so even conserved and saved money that way. Cloth diapering became an obsessive hobby 🙂

  7. Sarah Farish

    I am struggling with this week because I am not struggling. While I know that sounds weird, it’s true. I don’t feel convicted by this chapter. I have no urge to plant a garden or head to the recycling center. I know I have the attitude of “how can one household really affect much?” Oddly, I don’t have this attitude about anything else. So, can someone help me – pray for me? I see the value in reducing waste – I really do – I just can’t muster any want-to.

    1. Marla Taviano

      For me, it was making the connection between my excessive waste and the millions of poor people around the world that don’t have enough to survive. God created the world to be able to sustain everyone who lives here, but we’ve hogged (and thrown away) waaaaaaaaay more than our share.

      I don’t have the time to write out a long explanation, but I really didn’t care either, until I started seeing it in that light.

      I’ll absolutely pray for you, friend. So appreciate your honesty.

      1. Tonia

        Move by me. We live like two miles from the stinky landfill and on windy days you can tell. It’s really disturbing.

        Not to mention, there are places around the world where people actually live in land fills.

      2. Sarah Farish

        Wow…the “we are selfish hoggers” angle definitely has me thinking! Praying for a heart change…for Jesus to help me see this issue as he sees it. I really think part of me is just too overwhelmed by the learning curve since I know zilch about gardening and barely more than zilch about recycling. I do know you make time for and learn about whatever you care about:) Ignorance is not bliss in this case!

    2. Danielle

      It’s difficult sometimes to get beyond the “I must do this because others (society, other bloggers, authors, etc.) say I should.” What is more important is to ask God “Does this matter to you? Why or why not?”

      Genesis 2:15 may be a great place to start. Before the fall, before Eve was made to help Adam, before God took Adam through the laborious creation work of naming all the animals, God put Adam in the garden to work it and keep it. It’s after this verse that God tells Adam what he can consume and not consume.

      Genesis 2 is not a “God made man twice” thing but a more detailed telling of the story where God made humans and saw that it was very good. We humans, the pinnacle of God’s creation, are charged with filling the Earth (creation), subduing it (giving order to chaos), having dominion (being image bearers), working it (cultivating in word and deed), and keeping it (not destroying but building up).

      This is my motivation for Earth care actions. I prayed this morning, “Lord let my faith not be dead because of my lack of works, but let my works not be out of a lack of faith.” I think I should pray that more often. I pray that God guides you where he wants you to go in this area.

      1. Sarah Farish

        I love that, Danielle. This isn’t about what everyone else’s is doing – it never really is. This is about what God has/has not commanded or convicted ME to do and why (or why not). In other areas of my life, I am not a crowd follower. I make decisions based on God’s call and Godly wisdom. So, instead of using the old “how will my measly recycling of bottles really help the great big earth,” I should be saying, “God called me to do this – end of story. I recycle out of obedience to Him, not culture.”

        Thanks, thanks, thanks to all of you who commented on my comment – and the other comments. Through reading them, I am learning much about both environmental friendliness AND decisions/motivations/obedience:)

  8. Lisa

    Interesting post, Marla! Oh, and I’m so glad your Grandma is now reunited with your Grandpa and is hanging out with Jesus!

    My kids had a lot of allergies (and the oldest had asthma) while growing up – and I got into studying about toxins in both their diet and their environment. Very eye opening! Home #2 was built to be as non toxic as possible, which in part helped Jesse begin to heal from the life-threatening asthma. (He would have severe respiratory difficulty for 3 days straight once it hit). Those were rough days.

    But that was actually the impetus for the first site I built online – and my big purpose for that site is to unite all people – regardless of their political leanings – to see the wisdom in 3 areas I believe we can all agree on:

    1) Energy Efficiency
    2) Conservation of Resources
    3) Non Toxic Living

    and I do believe it is Scriptural!

    I’ve had some very interesting responses – from folks who assume I’m a “tree-hugger” (with complementary political leanings), to Christians casting a doubtful eye my way when I tell them I have a site on Green Homes.

    Hmmm!

    There’s a lot of room in the middle of the road on this, in my humble opinion. Whether building, remodeling, maintaining or even cleaning, there’s something to be said for true “green” and non toxic living – in diet as well as environment.

    There’s even a “going green” section on the site. If you want to take a peek, here’s the address”
    http://www.building-your-green-home.com/going-green.html

    I’m into composting (although the groundhogs living under the deck are snacking with delight on most of this lately), gardening and energy efficiency in particular. And we’re part of a CSA where we get fresh, amazingly delicious produce from about May – October.

    Thanks for bringing this up and for your transparency!

    🙂

  9. Lori

    Took a short cut this week. Didn’t have time to read the full chapter but plenty to blog about.
    I see I overlooked “conserving energy and water” and “buying local”.

    Here is my energy conservation dream (my older, wiser, pushing 40 year old self says):
    I would build another house with enough space / land to be self-sufficient with a couple cows, big garden and definitely chickens. The house would be big enough for the 6 of us, yet more efficiently laid out so we could keep the square footage <2000. It would be built with energy efficient, renewable energy sources, etc. like geothermal heating. And the design would support the Ohio sun / earth to naturally keep the house well lit and the proper temperature. Honestly, if we could afford to do it over, I would do this in a heartbeat because the cost of living would be so much lower than what we have now in the low quality, under insulated McMansion.
    *sigh*
    Can't wait to read all these comments and be inspired!! I find it pretty cool that so many are not reading the book, just the blogs, but had already been closing in on these topics in their own lives. What hope that brings for our children 🙂

  10. Michael Ekstrand

    Already doing… recycling, driving only rented cars, shopping second-hand for many things (we often go to a nearby thrift store), buying local. Although the local buying isn’t yet out of a particularly deep conviction… we don’t buy a whole lot, and aren’t averse to buying online, but do buy many things locally & prefer to in some cases.

    When Jennifer and I moved to Minneapolis a few years ago, we tolerated the city & anticipated the day when I’d graduate and we’d move to some college town & start a teaching job. Over the last year or so, though, we’ve had rather a change of heart to embrace the city, the diverse opportunities for life and ministry it provides, and the flexilbity and lightweight lifestyle it affords. We sold our van about 6 months ago, and now get where we need to go by foot, bicycle, bus, or Zipcar. Light and loving it. Some praise the “independence” afforded by a car, arguing that Americans will never give up their cars because they prize their independence; I feel more free and independent on my bicycle than I do behind the wheel of a car. In part because of the flexibility I have on it while riding; in part because if it breaks, I can just fix it rather than needing to go to a mechanic. Parts are relatively inexpensive, the specialized tools required are few and not exorbitant priced, and the machine itself is pretty simple. I’ve also grown – not sure how or when – to love simplicity and durability over fancy parts or features.

    Another thing we try to do is to be aware of – and avoid when we can – unnecessary or, worse yet, planned obsolescence. What is the end game for this item? How long will it last? Will we need to replace it? This particularly affects electronics purchases – and partially as a result, we don’t buy a lot of shiny new gadgets (I write on my ~8 month old laptop, while contemplating purchasing a tablet…).

  11. Shelley

    Already been doing recycling, shopping thrift, conserving energy and water….but since reading this chapter I have been doing more and doing it better!

    I had already decided to do a garden this year right before I picked up “7”, so we’ll see how that goes. Not brave enough to try composting this year – maybe next year! I am committed to visiting the Farmer’s Market once a week this year to buy veggies and such – buying from and supporting local farmers.

    Driving one car is an impossibility for us. I’ve looked at it from every angle and can’t see how to do it. We have 4 boys – three in sports and all at different schools. Plus, my husband drives around the city all day for his job. I think one car would add to the stress level around here.

    A note on recycling: I have been doing it for years, but after reading this chapter I realized I could do more. We always have had the huge garbage can out by the curb on trash day, overflowing with trash bags, plus 1 recycling bin. I’m happy to report the can has only been half full for the past two weeks and we now have two recycling bins out by the curb! Yay! I am also being more careful on what I buy and if the packaging is recyclable or not.

    In the future I would love to be able to buy cars that were more fuel efficient and grow more of our own veggies….one thing at a time….changing slowly is better than no change at all!!

  12. Kelly S

    – Already doing – recycling, conserving energy and water

    – Do a little but want to do more – buying only local, shopping thrift and second-hand

    – tried but failed (don’t work for our current lifestyle/black thumbs) – gardening, composting

    Like you mentioned, Marla, caring for the environment hasn’t always been something I was interested in or that was on my radar. I grew up with a very politically conservative dad who thinks global warming/climate change is a bunch of hooey and that we should do whatever is best for business and ourselves. So, it wasn’t until college and afterwards (past 5-10 years) that I’ve been more interested and aware of environmental factors… blogs have definitely been a big part of my education and some minor lifestyle changes!

    I feel like a lot of environmental and health stuff are connected: we’ve almost entirely removed plastic from our kitchen, we are trying to get indoor plants and keep windows open rather than A/C, etc.

    A few things that I’m pretty proud of are that we use very little disposable stuff in the kitchen: no paper towels (rags instead), no paper plates (bought plastic recycled no. 5 reusable dishes instead for parties, and otherwise just use our china), use reusable cloth bags instead of ziplocs for a lot, use Nalgenes instead of buying disposable water bottles, etc. In the next couple weeks, we’re going to invest in cloth napkins so we won’t use paper napkins much, either.

    I feel like this is also linked to spending – the more we care for the environment by reusing/recycling/reducing, the less we spend…

    We’ve been a part of a CSA on and off over the past couple years through our local farmer’s market, which is good for being local and supporting organic farming practices, but that’s about all we do on that front. I tried gardening and killed everything, and tried composting but didn’t have the motivation to continue (especially since we don’t garden!)

    Some of the “buy local” stuff collides with my heart to support fair trade practices and support enterprises in other countries… I feel like I’d rather buy something made of organic cotton by women in Uganda than something locally… but I guess I also don’t have lots of experience with truly locally made items (all the “local” stores import from around the world!)

    1. Lori

      Oh great point on the using rags instead of paper towels. Definitely an area I need some inspiration!

      On the fair trade topic…..consider the cost and environmental impact of transporting those items vs buying local.

  13. HopefulLeigh

    I can’t garden or compost where I live but I grew up doing both. It makes me itchy that I can’t do that here! However, I’m trying to buy local as much as I can and I’m purchasing a CSA this year, which is the next best thing. I love going to Farmer’s Markets! I grew up recycling and thrifting. And I completely related to Jen’s friend who picked recyclable items out of others’ trash to be recycled. I’ve done that SO MANY times! In fact, my senior year of college, our house didn’t have the option to recycle so I saved all of those items and would bring them to my hometown. It’s funny that all this is so engrained in me because my parents are very conservative, to the point where my dad thinks Al Gore is a big, fat liar. But my dad has always believed in stewarding our possessions and the earth, so all of our family’s “green” efforts flowed from that.

    Reading Animal Vegetable Miracle was hugely convicting a few years back about where food comes from. This year I hope to finally learn how to can (something I refused to learn when I was a kid) and I’m also contemplating a few diet changes by buying less pre-packaged goods that probably are filled with nonnutritious junk anyway.

    My friends and I try to carpool when we’re headed to the same place and we have a few restaurants within walking distance of my house, but otherwise cars are necessary here. I still have further to go but I’m proud of some of the steps I’ve been able to take.

    1. Kelly S

      I enjoyed Animal Vegetable Miracle too and agree that it was very enlightening! I was pretty fired up when I first read it… having you mention it here reminds me that I’ve probably forgotten about some of the convictions I had back then regarding local, grass-fed, etc…. maybe time for a refresher skim through the book! 🙂

      Sounds like you have made a lot of good steps! 🙂

  14. Sarah Hubbell aka MainlineMom

    I suck at gardening but I’d love to do it more. It’s the whole manual labor and getting dirty part I don’t like. Definitely room to grow there.

    I do shop second hand a ton, especially for my kids. But I shop new as well. I am wasteful in how many items of clothing I buy for my kids, for sure. It’s a vice.

    But I do recycle like a mad woman, even collecting glass that our town doesn’t pick up curbside and driving it across town to a recycling center when our bucket gets to overflowing. Which is a pain in the neck, and pretty often because we apparently like to consume things like wine and spaghetti sauce a lot.

    And my actual job is an environmental engineer in the area of water, so yeah…conserving water and energy is a passion of mine. Turn off your darn sprinklers in the middle of the day, people.

  15. Valerie Henry

    I like how being frugal (or, in my case, a total tightwad) makes you automatically more “green.” We accumulated a big ol’ honkin’ Dodge Ram with a V-8 back in the halcyon days when gas was, like, two bucks a gallon. Now it sits in the driveway 9/10 of the time, because who can afford gas? I have cut down driving at all to three days a week. Recycling is something I had not done very well until I read “7”. I just always figured my little bit didn’t matter, when nobody else was recycling. I see now that it doesn’t really matter what “everybody else” does….it’s up to me to do the right thing. So for the past few weeks I’ve been recycling everything I can. I am fortunate in that I live in a rural area where we don’t have trash pickup, we have to haul our own stuff to the “dump” (which is basically a giant trash compactor), and there are huge recycling bins there for pretty much everything.

    And composting…..I’m surprised that some people find that difficult or confusing. Growing up, my daddy always had a big garden, and his compost pile was just a pile of dirt in the garden that we had to throw all of our potato peels and such into. 😎

    1. Jennifer Ekstrand

      One thing I like about little personal changes is that it can result in other people getting on board too. One person recycling might prompt other people to think about it (and if the majority of a group recycles, many of those who don’t initially will probably follow eventually).

  16. Donna P

    I’m so sorry about your grandmother. So hard.

    Waste… I struggle with the stupid water bottles. I know I should be drinking tap but I’m failing.

    And I’m not sure how to compost and what to do with the compost! I live in Memphis and have found it’s almost cheaper to buy veggies at the farmer’s market than to water my own garden all summer. I do try to buy local and intend to buy the majority of my food locally once the farmers markets open.

    I feel strongly that taking care of the earth is our responsibility. To have dominion over the earth means we are responsible to her care. And we suck at that.

    1. Kelly S

      I think buying at the farmer’s market is just as good as gardening/composting. I’m not someone who naturally enjoys gardening and composting, so I figure it’s better to support someone trying to make their livelihood in that way… and, if the prices are the same, all the better to shop at the farmer’s market! 🙂

  17. Amy

    It’s so interesteing that God is moving me in a lot of these topics and I haven’t even picked up the book yet. We are starting our first garden this year. We have batted around the idea of composting but haven’t set it up yet. We recycle and are lucky that our trash people gave us a separate can for it and pick it up every Friday.
    I’m bad at second-hand shopping. I’ve tried a few times but our area just doesn’t have a good resource. Buying only local is hard too because a lot of times it runs into the budget thing.

  18. Jen Hanson

    We’ve had only one car our entire marriage (2+ years), but it was honestly way more because we are stubbornly frugal than because we are “green”.

    This chapter was really good for me. I’m now noticing a lot of little things that I do that add up to lots of big (bad) things. Like how many recyclable items i throw away every day. Our apartment complex doesn’t have a recycling bin/system, so I really (REALLY) should stop using that as an excuse and find another way around that wasteful habit.

    Second-hand shopping is something I do, but want to to more of. Especially when I think of not only the waste but the potential slavery that my new purchases are promoting.

  19. Rebekah Gambrell

    Wow,…. I am not reading this book but I am so glad to see that it is hitting on these topics. We do all of the above. We have two cars but rarely use two. We have two so we can use the more economical car when we aren’t all piled in the other big gas hog (usually for trips and church). I think something that I am trying to do is reuse things that I would usually discard and are not useful anymore…. like socks with holes…. I hope to make a rug…. we will see how it goes. I think buying things that don’t have a bunch of wrapping….individual wrappings.

  20. Darius

    So sorry to hear about your grandma, Marla! So if you don’t get a chance to respond to this, I completely understand. I was wondering, in the spirit of clarity and understanding, if you could explain a little more on why it is good (or, more importantly, Christian) to live a “greener” life. I hear people say this, but I never ever hear reasons why (except from the media and certain politicians). It just seems to go without saying that less is more and “saving the earth” (whatever that means exactly) is a very good thing.

    If I’m going to buy into something being as important as defending the lives of innocent babies, I want to understand the presuppositions that go into that position and the Biblical and moral reasons for me to support it. If you’ve already explained this in detail somewhere, sorry and feel free to link there and save yourself the trouble of re-writing it here.

    Blessings to you and Gabe,
    Darius

    1. Jennifer Ekstrand

      Darius,

      First I wanted to say, I’m glad that you’re thinking about the issue and not just accepting it as truth based on fashionability.

      Then, I wanted to clarify: I don’t think Marla or Jen Hatmaker have said that it is “as important as defending the lives of innocent babies”. To claim that environmental stewardship is not just a distraction from abortion issues is not saying they are of equal value, only that concern for abortion does not necessitate (or even commend) ignoring creation.

      As for why it is good, my first argument is that creation belongs to God and displays His glory. The dominion man is to exercise over earth is as stewards, not as ultimate owners. To scorn God’s creation (whether that creation is of tiny babies that God made in His image or skies which proclaim His handiwork) is to scorn God.

      Secondly, environmental concerns are part of loving our neighbors. Contaiminated drinking water, farmland, and fishing areas mean harm to people physically and economically.

      If you’re interested in something more in depth, you might find Francis Schaeffer’s Pollution and the Death of Man or Ed Brown’s Our Father’s World: Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation helpful (Disclaimer: I have not read either of them).

      1. Darius T

        Thanks Jennifer! The reason I said “as important as defending the lives of innocent babies” is that Marla’s “Apology to Democrats and Jesus” post had the following statement in it: “I’m sorry for being so narrowly focused on homosexuality and how wrong it is and abortion and how wrong it is, to the exclusion of many, many other issues. (The ones the Bible says over and over and over again that God actually cares about most.)”

        At the very least, this implied there issues that are equal to or even more important to God than the murder of innocent lives. Perhaps Marla didn’t mean that, but that’s the way I understood it.

        That said, I completely agree that Christians shouldn’t myopically focus on one or two issues. Over the years of my own weak attempts at blogging, I tried to focus on some of those other issues. What I don’t want are Christians who are so politically un-informed about all issues not related to the abortion or homosexual topics that if the day comes where neither of those are political issues any more, they won’t have any idea how to vote (or will merely fall back on the false “Jesus is a Republican” position). I want Christians to have a very robust understanding of all facets of politics, not so much because voting is the most important thing one does (it isn’t, though it does carry significant weight) but because our political worldview and understanding affects how we live our daily lives and interact with our communities.

        Back to your comment… I agree that God owns creation and it is to display his glory and that we are merely stewards of this earth, though we should keep in mind that we are commanded to dominate and subdue it (the Hebrew word for “subdue” in Genesis is used elsewhere to depict rape and slavery). In other words, God wants us to use this earth, and not just put His shiny gift back on the shelf and tell Him “thanks, but I don’t want to scratch it.” There are more ways to scorn a gift than to treat it roughly.

        I agree we should be concerned for the environment when it adversely affects people (our neighbors). But I think where my concern lies is on the practical side of things; I believe we largely agree ideologically and theologically. We should be innocent yet wise as snakes. A lot of what is currently passed as “green” or “environmentally-friendly” are either politically-driven or overly simplified, and actually quite anti-human.

        For example, the ethanol push that is starting to wane now that people are realizing that ethanol is no cleaner in the big picture than gasoline (plus the fact that using corn for fuel drives up demand and prices, which has played a role in the food crises in recent years). Another example is the idea of buying locally. While a nifty idea in theory, it is not practical or morally good in the long run. It supports inefficient and bad business models, and hurts those who need the business most: the third-world poor who produce the food and goods being replaced by the “local” market. Same goes for Fair Trade coffee.

        All of these well-intentioned ideas ultimately hurt those who can least afford it. As a relatively rich American, I can afford to pay a little more for a cup of coffee or for that locally-produced loaf of bread, but the poor Filipino working in the wheat fields who loses income or his job because I want to shop locally… he can’t feed his family very well.

        Ultimately, we have a lot of “green” ideas which actually cause more harm. I want Christians to be wise environmentalists.

        1. Jennifer Ekstrand

          I think green-washing is a problem, and not every idea to preserve the environment is actually helpful. It is nice when multiple factors combine well, such as using white vinegar to clean, which makes sense in terms of both price and environmental impact (as opposed to a standard commercial cleaning agent), but unfortunately many other scenarios are more complicated. It can be difficult to make practical decisions on how to work out principles, especially when principles conflict.

          In principle, I would like free markets to set prices, but oppression interferes with prices (forced labor and interference with migration can both make labor prices lower than free market value, driving down the price of produced goods). A Nash equilibrium or a tragedy of the commons can also make some market meddling beneficial.

          No one but God has all the information to make the absolute best choices all the time, and global economics and creation are both complicated systems. We should try to be reasonably informed and make the best decisions we can (and different people will come to different conclusions about what the best choice is). I too want Christians to be wise environmentalists.

    2. Marla Taviano

      Hi, Darius. Thanks so much for your comment. I’m just popping in between a speaking engagement and taking my afternoon kindergartner to the bus stop, so hopefully I can elaborate on this more later.

      I hear what you’re saying. Totally and completely. And I am passionate about saving unborn babies (as I know you and beautiful Elizabeth are too). I just know that in the past, I thought that the people who cared about the poor/the earth did so INSTEAD of caring about babies. For whatever twisted reason, I thought it was one or the other. And of course, I chose the babies. Now, I know I can also care about the poor and the earth too.

      It’s kind of like the people who ask me why I’m so intent on helping people in Cambodia when we have so many needs right here in Ohio. And I tell them (after I ask them what they’re doing to help people here) that I’m not choosing between them. I’m doing both. I’m super involved at our multi-ethnic, inner-city church AND loving on Cambodia.

      I’m so sorry for how that came across, and I’ll try to address it, so that others aren’t confused.

      And I’ve got to run and can’t even proofread what I just wrote. Hopefully it makes at least a little sense!

      1. Darius T

        Amen, Marla. I figured you didn’t mean it quite like that, and I completely appreciate what you’re trying to do, as I think you are right that plenty of Christians struggle with that false dichotomy (we all seem to struggle with false dichotomies, don’t we?). Much of what is being said now should have been said 20 years ago. Of course, it was only in the late 70’s when evangelicals finally figured out that abortion was a problem (thanks to Francis Schaeffer). The problem that Christians in this country have had is we have looked for ONLY political solutions when there is so much more needed. Taking your work in/with Cambodia as an example, there are definitely political methods available to help solve the problem of trafficking, but those aren’t necessarily as helpful and important as the methods you and others are using to actively undermine the sex trade.

        As I said in my reply to Jennifer, my concern here is primarily practical, not theological. While there are plenty of environmentalists (even some supposed Christians) engaged in Earth-worship, that’s not an issue here. I just want to make sure we all are wise with our time and resources, and are properly informed on these issues. The media and politicians tell us one thing, the truth is usually quite another.

        So when we make moral claims like “green is good” or “recycling honors God,” while it is easy to just assume the truth of those statements, we need to be able to defend and promote them with solid arguments. This is one reason why America is in the moral state it is… Christians forgot to teach the next generation WHY they held certain values. So if “going green” is a value worth having, then it is one that needs to be fully and properly taught to the next generation. And if it isn’t worth keeping (or needs to be adjusted), then a dialogue about the reasons behind it is also very important and helpful.

        1. John McCollum

          Darius, for me, it goes something like this: the earth that God created is good, and despite its brokenness is both a gift for us and a glory unto God.

          The earth was given to all of humanity to nourish and to sustain us, but as a result of the fall, sinful men and their sinful systems have misused, mistreated and misappropriated the creation for short-term gain. And in the process, we’ve both strained and stained the earth’s resources to the point of breakage, often in service of the greed of a few and at the expense of the world’s poor.

          As a Kingdom people, we believe that God reigns not only over the spiritual order, but the physical as well, and we want to cooperate with his agenda to renew all things, bringing them under Christ’s reign. And to do this, we need to oppose the misuse of our planet and its bounty.

          While we’ll never fully bring in God’s Kingdom by our own efforts, we cannot with integrity beg God to restore this earth while simultaneously working to destroy it. We seek to create communities on earth today that function as they will when Jesus comes back to fix this messed up place. I can’t imagine that any of us believe that in the new, restored earth, Jesus would stand for squandering of resources and the pollution of the planet. So why not begin now?

          Unfortunately, many Christians espouse a belief that I take to be unbiblical: that God is going to literally — and imminently! — destroy the physical creation, rather than renew it. This belief, most often rooted in a strain of dispensationalism that was considered heretical by nearly all biblical scholars when it was invented in the 19th Century, makes creation care unnecessary, even idolatrous.

          If Jesus, the thinking goes, is going to rapture us in the next couple of years, and then destroy the planet within the decade, why should we worry about the ozone or the pollution of our fragile ecosystems or global climate change? It’s all gonna burn, baby, and soon!

          I grew up in that system, and since leaving it behind, I’ve developed a much more coherent (and, I hope, Christlike) view of the present and future of our planet.

          1. Darius

            John, while I agree with much of what you said (I too don’t like the dispensationalist bent on things and how it can affect one’s view on this life), I don’t think it’s accurate to the Bible to say that the Earth is not going to be destroyed but renewed. I don’t see it being either/or. 2 Peter 3 tells us that the heavens and earth are reserved for fire and destruction. And Jesus himself said that heaven and earth would pass away. Only after it is all destroyed will God remake this world. It may be a small point, but potentially an important one.

          2. John McCollum

            Darius, it is an important distinction. But the word λυομένων (lyomenōn) translated sometimes as “destroyed” is translated more correctly (and more often before the 19th century) as “dissolved.”

            I tend to fall in line with the scholars who believe that the description of fire consuming the earth are better understood metaphorically than literally — in the same way that God will burn away metaphorically rather than literally our works, leaving behind what is pure and consuming (again, metaphorically) all that is impure.

            The passages that appear describe a literal destruction of the earth must be interpreted in light of the larger narrative of scripture to determine if they actually fall into the category of metaphor/analogy. There are many more passages in the Bible — and I would argue the entire redemptive arc depicted in scripture — of God as purifying and renewing creation rather than destroying and starting from scratch.

  21. Ruth

    I’ve been wanting to do gardening; i just literally don’t know where to start or if we even have a big enough area. I don’t even know if it’s too late to start now… And who do I ask? It stresses me out. We have a community garden (a few actually I think), so maybe I’ll start there. Somehow.

    I also have considered composting but once again… Don’t know where to start & it seems so hard.

    I have had it ingrained in me since childhood to conserve energy & water so this is probably my best area although I’m sure it could also use some work & breaking of habits.

    And good old recycling… We have a recycling bin/drop-off day one Saturday of the month but I always forget it. Once again, something that stresses me out, another extra trip with 3 kids, and there ya go. Plenty of excuses to be hostile to the environment & lose an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson to my kids. Ugh.

    Funny, though… My husband’s car literally just got a “it’s not worth fixing it, you need a new car” diagnosis today. So we are going to not get a 2nd car, save the money we would pay on insurance, & be a 1-car (van) family again for now.

    I actually do shop thrift & second-hand and LOVE it! I especially like mom2mom sales for my kids & maternity clothes & birthday gifts. 🙂

    And I’ve been really good at buying local or at least I am better. We have a market here but the problem is you have to weed out the bad from the good. I literally walked through the other day & took notes on what was local, organic, or what was from other states with stickers on them with plenty of chemicals.

    So yeah. No more excuses. I know what I need to work on now. Let’s do this!

    1. Shelley

      Ruth,
      I got a book called “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew and it told me everything I needed to do! You can grow a lot in a small space and customize it fit your area. Check it out:)

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