Earth Days

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"It's not easy being green," the saying goes.

A recent article in The Economist showed that garbage waste has escalated in recent years. And the worst offenders? Sadly, Americans, though other nations are also steadily contributing.

It's not just how much we're tossing, it's what: food, paper, plastic bottles, fast-food wrappers and the list goes on. Realistically, a good deal of these products can easily be recycled or reused, but many simply choose not to. Why?

An insightful sentence from the article caught my eye and explains: "People feel that they have a natural right to throw away as much stuff as they like" ("A Load of Rubbish," The Economist, Feb. 28, 2009). I'm sure you've seen this firsthand:

Driving down a highway, someone finishes a Big Mac and tosses the wrapper out the window. Apparently, the person can't be "inconvenienced" to find a waste bin or better yet a recycling bin. And in the meantime, the trash is piling up.

Green with responsibility

I honestly can't remember at what age it began to be stressed to me the importance of caring for my environment, but it is a lesson that has stuck to this day. I'm an avid recycler and am often distressed when I don't see recycling bins at fast-food restaurants and coffee bars where disposing of waste is a natural byproduct of the dining experience. But the lesson stressed to me was not just one of cleaning up after myself. No, it was much deeper. The lesson I learned was that it is my personal responsibility as a Christian to care for this planet.

A weighty loan

Why are things like littering and improper waste disposal representative of un-Christian behavior? To answer that, I go back to that lesson learned: It's my personal responsibility as a Christian to care for this planet…because this planet does not belong to me, and I am not "owed" anything simply by existing on it. Essentially, earth is on loan.

One of the Psalms sums up this concept nicely, saying to God, "The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all its fullness, You have founded them" (Psalm 89:11). Another entire psalm praises God for His creation and reaffirms that all of creation belongs to God (Psalm 104).

The careless footprint

It's a selfish and disposable mentality that believes it unnecessary to care for or be thankful for the gifts that God provides us. Paul the great apostle discussed this attitude when he cautioned the young Timothy about humanity becoming unthankful, self-loving, unloving of others, brutal and without self-control (2 Timothy 3:2-3). This is a mentality that you and I simply cannot afford to have. Just like reckless energy use and careless waste disposal contribute to a carbon footprint, this mentality is also toxic.

Avoiding such an attitude goes much deeper than just caring for the planet, but that is one step in the right direction. Each day you and I have the personal ability and responsibility to do little things that can have a positive impact. For easy, eco-friendly tips, I found the green book by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen very helpful.

For more insight about why we should care for God's green earth, read "Going Green: The Story Behind the Story." Please join me in being thankful every day for God's creation and in caring for it. VT