upper room daily devotions

Sunday, April 22, 2007

get rid of earth day

It's time to get rid of Earth Day. The time has come and gone for us to set aside one day a year for environmental awareness. Our planet is now ill enough that we need to make immediate and significant changes in the ways in which we live our lives if we are going to revive our planet.

While it has become chic for entertainers and others to promote Earth Day and the environment, I have grown increasingly concerned that we are turning Earth Day into another commercialized event steeped in consumerism. Just this week, Oprah Winfrey hosted an Earth awareness program on her television show. Ten - even five - years ago, this would have excited me, but this year I watched concerned that the crux of the message is that we can live essentially the same way that we do now if only we would purchase more eco-friendly products. It is certainly true that each of us could make simple and easy changes that would positively affect our planet, but the environmental crisis has reached a tipping point that switching from toxic cleaning materials to something like 7th Generation just won't get it. It's time for us to adopt systemic changes that will go to the heart of how we live in the world. Some of these changes may be very difficult for many of us, but nothing is more important that reviving the health of this living miracle on which we live.

Even though it will take radical action from our government in regulating power companies and larger corporations to exact the effects that we really need, individual action is important as well. Here are some of the basic things every person should do in order to make first steps into caring for the environment:
*Change from using incandescent light bulbs. Energy Star's Change a Light Campaign can tell you what you need to know.
*Buy Energy Star certified products. These save energy.
*Jettison phantom power! Every outlet with something in it is putting out some power. If you have lamps or other items plugged in but you don't use them, unplug them. Power down your computers and don't leave your screens running. It might be a minuscule amount of power, but every little bit adds up.
*Don't buy bleached products. Most of us have bleached paper towels, typing paper, and other items in the house. Buy non-bleached paper. It's better and safer.
*Adequately insulate your home, but beware...much insulation is not eco-friendly. Look for "green" insulation.
*Turn down straws, plastic bags, and other unnecessary plastic items. They don't biodegrade.
*Don't buy bottled water. The energy used in creating the bottles even though they are recyclable isn't worth it. Use filters at home and take along your own bottles.
*Purchase renewable energy from your power company. In Seattle, you can purchase "green" energy from Seattle City Light. Municipalities around the nation offer similar options. Learn more about renewable energy from Interfaith Power and Light.
*Buy food that is locally grown and organically produced. In Washington state we have the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network.
*Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. That's basic. Compost what you can.
*Buy a hybrid car, an electric car (Chevy's Volt is an example if they would just build it), or use biodiesel. See "Who Killed the Electric Car?" If you live in Seattle, biodiesel is very easy to purchase. Even better, walk to work or take mass transit.
*Go solar! You can get off the grid so do it.
*When upgrading your home, buy carpets, paint, wood (bamboo), tiles, and other products that are eco-friendly. Online and local stores can help you out. Check out Eco By Design, The Environmental Home Center.

These are just some things individuals can do. Mostly we need to use less and buy less. And when we do buy, we need to make sure the planet was treated ethically in order to produce, package, and transport our wares. But really it's time for large scale government action if we are going to make much difference in rising sea levels, species collapse, and devastating climate change. Local municipalities and the federal government need to offer tax incentives for businesses and corporations that take care of the environment, and they need to tax those that don't. We need to raise our mileage standards and create better mass transit systems inside our cities and among them. We need a nation wide train system that works and is affordable. We need more wilderness designated areas. We need to proactively go about the business of decreasing carbon emissions now...not by 2050 (even though I support Step It Up's campaign).

Some will say this post has nothing to do with progressive Christianity. I strongly disagree. The first story in our scriptures is the story of creation in which God commanded humankind to take care of the earth. At no time in our history could we have conceived of literally destroying our planet, but now we can and, in fact, we are destroying it. It is time that churches lead the way rather than obstruct it in creating social change related to this earth - God's precious creation which God loves and called "good". God has placed us here to be stewards; let us answer God's command faithfully.


Mystical Seeker said...

If there is a way for capitalism to turn something positive into a commercialized parody of itself, capitalism is sure to do it.

I like your list of suggestions. I would only add, with respect to bottled water, that most people's tap water is perfectly safe and is properly treated--probably safer than bottled water, and my guess is that most filters are completely unnecessary. The bottled water industry always struck me as a big scam--pay lots of money for water that you can get safely and cheaply through your tap.

rev katie m ladd said...

good call. you're most likely right. i suppose my reluctanct to drink tap water has nothing to do with whether it's safe or not. the fluoride and chlorine make it taste a bit off. and, i grew up in areas with very "hard" water - very mineral rich. it smelled awful and tasted worse. that's not the case now. i admit that i may have fallen to the commercialization of drinking water!

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