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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Watch What You Eat
The foods we raise, consume, and ship around the world require vast energy and natural resources. In addition, they also impact local ecosystems. Natural balance is overturned in streams, lakes, and oceans when we consume more fish than can be reproduced naturally. Also, genetically engineered crops raised for consumption influence wild plants, upsetting biodiversity. Finally, factory farming and industrial agriculture reduce the varieties and types of produce and animals and limit the genetic diversity that used to exist around the globe.
- Eat your fruits and veggies! Eating lower on the food chain saves energy and other resources. When you eat a variety of grains, fruits, and veggies, you will diversify both your diet and the animal kingdom.
- Try to buy “simple” foods. If the ingredients list includes a lot of ingredients you don’t recognize, try to choose a simpler item.
- Buy dolphin-safe tuna if you eat tuna.
- If you buy animal products for food, buy meats that are marked as antibiotic-free, grain-fed, and free-range, or buy from a local farmer whom you trust.
- Know what fish to avoid in your region. Check the seafood guide created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to know which fish to eat: http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_regional.aspx.
- Buy local foods at your local store or at farmers’ markets, where you can talk with local farmers about their methods and beliefs in farming.
- Cultivate and/or buy heirloom foods. Heirlooms preserve unique species that otherwise would rapidly be crowded out by the cultivation of just one kind of each food. For heirloom meats, one source is http://www.heritagefoodsusa.com. Many local gardening stores have heirloom seeds and seedlings. Farmers’ markets (and sometimes local grocers) have heirloom produce for sale.
- Buy foods that have not been genetically engineered. Many natural food stores, and some local groceries as well, will carry foods that are specifically marked as not including genetically engineered ingredients. Because the USDA does not require the food industry to label products that have been genetically engineered, the onus is on smaller, independent companies to specifically market and claim the non-GE label.
- Avoid foods from industrial agriculture or factory farms. Most of their produce or meats are not heirloom varieties and are often genetically engineered. Complexity and diversity (both inherent in biodiversity) are not part of this corporate mentality.
Walking the Talk
For six years, children have come to the backyard of Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, for a gardening day camp in which they learn how to plant and harvest produce and then to make good food from those fresh fruits and vegetables. Stephen Bartlett, a church member and the organizer of the camp, says, “We have seen some of the parents of the children turn up at worship months later, and keep coming.
This has helped our church look and feel more diverse socioeconomically, culturally, and racially.” This camp also changes children’s lives. Bartlett explains: “The idea of the garden is to demonstrate to children that the commons still exists, that if someone is hungry and needs to eat out of this garden, they can, because it is not a private space but a common community garden space. In our highly privatized society, this idea comes as something of a revelation to many of the children.”
For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity.
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!