BY LEAH GOLLAND, GRACE STAFF & ATTENDER
I’m a child of the eighties and nineties, when phrases like “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” became part of the cultural vernacular. Captain Planet was one of my favorite shows on Saturday mornings. I remember singing “Recycle Rap” with Mrs. Marshall in my elementary school music classroom. Who remembers that song?
“Recycle, recycle, recycle now.
There’s nothin’ to it if you just know how.
So tell your mama, and your daddy, and your sister, too.
Recycling is the thing to do!”
Creation care has always been part of my life. But as I grew up, and especially as I had kids of my own, I became more passionate about taking better care of our planet. In Genesis, we see God proclaim this world as “good”—and I want to be part of making sure that His good creation is taken care of. I want my kids to be able to experience His good creation, and I want them to grow up knowing that taking care of it is part of following Jesus.
We all know that our world is a bit of a mess right now. Pollution, oceans filled with plastic, animals becoming endangered due to habitat destruction…it goes on and on. It can all feel like it’s just too much. Where do you even start? Will it make any difference?
I think the answer is YES.
I’m just a regular gal, living in suburban Indiana with my husband and two kids, but I believe small steps can add up to HUGE progress! I’ve found a calling in helping people figure out small ways they can make a big difference as we steward this world God has given us.
We can take small steps to change the way our lives impact the world. It can be as simple as buying veggies from the local farmers market, picking up litter in our neighborhoods, or walking to the park instead of driving. It might cost a little more money or a few minutes of our time, but it’s worth it.
We’re not going to solve all the problems of the world today, this week, this year, or even in our lifetime. But this quote from Clarissa Pinko Estes’ “Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times” gives me hope.
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.”
Steps You Can Take NOW
So, what does that actually look like? Here are some of the small changes our family has made in the last few years as my husband and I have taken up this calling for our family to care for creation.
We spend time outside as a family. When we take time to appreciate the creation, we remember how good it is. It makes us grateful to God for what He has given us, and we want to take care of it. Plus, it’s really fun!
We have a veggie garden. We have a small backyard in downtown Noblesville, so it’s not huge. But we grow enough tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, beans, and snap peas to make some yummy dinners in the summer. We also buy food at the farmer’s market and participate in a local farm’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
We pick up litter when we see it. Even our toddler started doing this, unprompted, because it’s something she’s seen us do.
We eat less meat. This one may seem a little strange, but when you start researching the environmental impacts of meat production, it makes sense to have a meat-free meal or two each week.
We try to avoid single-use plastics. That means we have reusable water bottles, grocery bags, and straws, and we use them whenever possible.
We buy less stuff. So much of our American culture wants to convince us that we need newer and better and more… but that takes resources to produce, and it creates more trash.
We have a rain barrel to collect water, and a compost bin to re-use our food scraps for our garden. It’s free food for our garden!
And, of course, we do the simple things we all know, like recycling, turning off lights when we leave the room, and conserving water and energy.
One of my favorite things we’ve done is planted a pollinator garden in an unused portion of our front lawn. This was my husband’s idea, and it has been a beautiful adventure as we’ve created a habitat for butterflies, bees, and birds!
We didn’t do this all at once. We started with one thing, then added the next, then the next. It’s been a journey, and we continue to look for new ways to care for the Earth. We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to honor God’s creation in the way we live our lives, one choice, one small change, one day at a time.
You may not be ready to tear up part of your lawn and put in native plants, or to stop eating meat. And that’s okay! But we can all do something. I believe the truth behind these words of Jesus, who I think is encouraging us on this adventure:
“I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:30 MSG)
Let’s live lightly, friends. When we do, we’ll honor the planet God has created for us, and become Stewards to heal the broken place of Decay.
Read more from Living Lightly in the Suburbs here.