This year the Social Ministry Committee invites you to re-evaluate your relationship with, and use of, plastic. At creation, God gave to human beings, created in God’s own image, the responsibility to toil and keep creation. We were to act as stewards to protect and nurture all of God’s creation. But instead of the earth flourishing under good stewardship, today we can often see the warning of Isaiah 24: 4-5 sadly coming true: “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants.”
Lent, traditionally a time to fast from things that distract us from God or to undertake a new discipline to draw us closer to God, is an opportune time to try a fast from some of our dependence on plastic and to return to our God-given role as nurturer of God’s creation. I know this can feel overwhelming! Plastic has permeated most areas of our lives. But plastic takes at least 450 years to degrade! Only 9% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled. Half of all the plastic produced is for single use products. So even by doing a little bit, many of us together can make an impact on this mass of plastic.
Here are some ideas to get started:
*Evaluate whether one needs a plastic product. Can you do without?
*Buy fruits and vegetables not packaged in plastic (this can be hard!) – and use non-plastic bags to carry your purchases home.
*Look for glass containers instead of plastic.
*Could you use bar soap instead of a pump plastic bottle?
*Say no to single use plastics like drinking straws, knives and forks and cups – carry your own reusable drink bottles and cutlery. Refill a metal water bottle from the tap. We are so fortunate in most places in the United States to have safe and healthy water available from our own sinks.
*Buy your laundry detergent powder in a cardboard box rather than liquid in a plastic bottle.
*Substitute plastic cling film with a product like Beeswax Wrap.
*Is your mind boggling at trying to get rid of lots of plastic habits at once? Try cutting out just one product this Lent (no plastic water bottles this Lent, for example). Or maybe try cutting a new product each week of Lent. By the end of Lent, you would have reduced your dependence on 6 plastic products! Or try focusing on weeding out plastic in just one room of your home – plastics in the kitchen or bathroom, maybe.
There are many resources online for using less plastic. Here are a few:
(This is a Lenten calendar for last year, but the challenges and information it gives for the 40 days of Lent are good.)
*franciscanseculars.com (scroll down to the “A Plastic-Less Lent 2018” post) presents why lessening our use of plastic for Lent is a good Lenten discipline.
*Facebook has a page for Plastic-Less Lent.
*The United Nations Clean Seas group produced a funny Public Service Announcement last year. You can find it on YouTube. Look for CleanSeas Break -Up PSA: “It’s not me, it’s you.”
Each of us making small changes in the ways we use plastic can make a big change for God’s creation!