My husband and I have a cross-cultural marriage. Though native-born Caucasian Americans, we come from different worlds. If you’ve seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” you understand the sort of differences I mean. I hail from a large, loud family; Gary came tiptoeing into the world to join the Small Family of Reserved Souls. He’s an Atlantic-coast guy; I’m a Pacific-coast girl. He was raised inside The Beltway; I’m a fifth-generation Oregonian.
When we married, one of our major differences was in how we viewed our involvement in environmental issues. Gary, an Eagle Scout, was quite respectful of the natural world, but inside the house…well…let’s just say that the first time I whipped out cloth napkins (to preserve trees, of course), Gary wanted to know what Senator was coming for dinner.
As the years went by, we let practical ways of caring for the environment fall pretty far down on our list of priorities. We didn’t litter. We turned off the lights when we left the room. But that was about the extent of it.
About six years ago, that changed. A fourteen-year-old neighbor, who is also a fellow-believer in Christ, came to our door. She was taking a school survey about the environment. The first question out of her mouth: “Of course you recycle–don’t you?”
“Uh. Well. No.”
“What?” She suppressed a gasp. “But why not?”
I stammered. I had no excuses, and all my explanations would have sounded pathetic. So I mostly just stood there muttering.
She had a hard time understanding how a Christian could just throw away glass, metal, plastic, and paper. And with a clear conscience!
After that conversation, we ordered blue plastic recycling bags–the kind required by our community’s recycling services.
Then, as if her crushed expression had not been enough, a Hebrew class later brought home to me how irresponsible I had been. Right there in Genesis I read about how God gave dominion to Adam and Eve. He made this small but gorgeous planet and entrusted it to the care of humanity.
Is global warming overly emphasized? Perhaps. I’ll concede that we haven’t been keeping track of the weather for long enough to absolutely, definitely confirm whether recent warming trends are caused by pollution or if they’re due to normal climate changes. But I have to ask this: So what? Even if global warming is caused by nothing more than natural shifts that fall within normal ranges, does that mean I should oppose limits on environment-trashing?
Is pollution real? Yes. Can the average person take steps at a local level to make a difference? Yes. Here are some super-basic examples of what we can do:
* Flip the light switch to “off” when we leave the room.
* Buy recycled paper.
* Turn down the hot water heater.
* Donate used cell phones to benefit organizations such as the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center, which collects them for reuse.
* Wash clothes in cold water.
* Use hand-cranked egg beaters and can openers. Go manual instead of electric when buying gadgets.
* When it’s time to replace your car, find one that goes easy on the gas.
* When it’s time to replace your fridge, give priority to one with a great energy-efficiency rating.
* Donate used clothing and shoes for resale. If you donate to benefit an organization that cares for souls as well as bodies, all the better.
* Use cloth napkins instead of paper. (Yes, you have to wash them–and that requires detergent–but surely you’ll never do a full load of napkins only.)
* Insulate your house well–both attic and windows.
After God made the earth, he called it “good.” When he made man and brought woman to him, He called them “very good.” So I ask this… If we are the crown jewel of creation, should we disregard the crown–or should we not polish it?