50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference
The green movement has taken root among Christians, with individuals and churches embracing eco-justice as a vital part of discipleship. In this four-part series, we will be excerpting chapters from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference by environmental activist Rebecca Barnes-Davies, who makes a clear connection between caring for the earth and living one’s faith. Taking action is important, but it’s also about “not doing,” says Barnes-Davies. Knowing when to let go of control, doing no harm, resting, celebrating, and trusting that God is doing the work to care for creation, are all essential elements to her approach. Each chapter offers seven action items, ranging from individual efforts to activities that encourage the involvement of church and community. There are practical suggestions, relevant facts and background material, success stories, additional sources of information, and appropriate scripture references.
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Reduce Personal Water Consumption
This is not a suggestion to drink less water. It is, instead, a suggestion to curtail wasteful, personal use of water in our homes and congregations. There are both simple and more complicated things that we can do to reduce our water consumption. While one in six people in the world still lacks access to safe drinking water, most of us in the United States have potable water whenever we want. If we had to walk a few miles for the water we use to drink, clean, and cook, we probably would think a bit more about it and would certainly use less of it. While the world’s population grows, access to clean water is going to become an increasingly serious concern.
- Purchase a front-loading washing machine. It uses half the water of a top-loading washer.
- Turn off the tap when possible while washing dishes, brushing teeth, and showering (and take quick showers!).
- Save a flush. One toilet flush in the United States wastes the same amount of water that the average person in a developing nation uses all day for washing, drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
- Use low-flow technology. Replace showerheads and hose nozzles with low-flow models, put a water bottle or other object in the toilet tank to displace a certain amount of water, or buy a low-flow toilet. Some of these methods will reduce water waste by half.
- Reuse “gray water.” Keep a bucket in the bath or shower to catch the water wasted while waiting for hot water to arrive. Use this gray water to water your garden or indoor plants or to flush the toilet. Reusing reduces waste 100 percent!
- When gardening, conserve water by using drip irrigation so the water goes directly to the plants’ roots. If you can’t install drip irrigation, be sure to water in the early morning or late evening to conserve water.
- Encourage individuals at your church to reduce water use, both at church and at home, by hanging signs in kitchens and bathrooms.
Walking the Talk
Aimee Moiso, campus minister for ecumenical and interfaith ministries at Santa Clara University in California, was attending a conference in which attendees were asked at one point to turn to their neighbors and discuss access to clean water in their countries. As Aimee heard from her neighbors, who were from Jamaica and Ghana, about the challenges they face in finding water to drink, she was embarrassed to admit that in the United States even her toilet uses potable water. That got her thinking about recycling water in her own house. Now she keeps a bucket in her bathtub that catches the water that runs as she waits for warm water, as well as the excess water that falls as she showers. She then pours that water into the toilet bowl to flush. “It only saves one flush — or maybe two — each day, but at least the water gets used twice. And it’s a start.”
To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
When you turn on the tap today or take a sip of water, offer a prayer of thanks for the gift of water and offer a prayer of concern for those who don’t have water today.
Excerpted with permission from 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference by Rebecca Barnes-Davies, published in 2009 by Westminster John Knox Press.
Enter for your chance to win a copy of 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Make a Difference. Email your name and address (only once, not 50 times) to email@example.com with 50 Ways Contest in the subject for your chance to win! Winner will be chosen at random, good luck and remember, Busted Halo will be excerpting other sections and offering more chances to win in the near future so don’t get too down on yourself if you didn’t win, though really, you should have won, shame on you!