Out shopping this week, I realised I hadn’t brought my water-bottle with me. Rather than going to buy a small plastic bottle of water, I went into a coffee bar and asked if they could give me a glass of tap water. ‘Of course, madam. Do you want ice in it?’ the barizo asked obligingly! I refused the ice and waited for the water. Back she came with a ‘glass’ of water – it was plastic!! You can’t win. But we keep trying. I’ve just spent half an hour pouring shampoo and conditioner from a large plastic bottle to a small plastic bottle – all in aid of not buying more shampoo bottles for carry on luggage - in yet another plastic bottle.
Another concern is the bees! Campaigners say that 13 bee species have become extinct in the UK since 1900 and a further 35 are on the threatened species list. Without bees, our economy and the future wellbeing of our children and grandchildren would be at risk. So last week I planted a packet of ‘bee-friendly seeds’ hoping that I might be making a small contribution to the health of the planet.
Alongside my environmental efforts, I am becoming increasingly aware of my other environmental ‘sins’! My daughter-in-law recently gently pointed out how many times I ‘just need something in the fridge’ and leave the fridge door open! I love some of the apple juice brands that only come in plastic bottles. In the bathroom, I do tend to leave the tap running while I clean my teeth and if anyone tries to suggest my warm nightly bath is a luxury, I am most upset!
Changing minds is a slow process even – and maybe especially - among those of us who claim to believe that ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’ This week, we attended some meetings at an excellent church conference on Biblical interpretation. Much concern for mission – maybe less for the world created by the God of mission. There was talk among the participants about the carbon footprint amassed by a meeting bringing in speakers from around the world but little or no acknowledgement in the programming of the major problem of our times. Concern for the planet, the earth that God made and found so good, rarely seems to find its way to the top of our church agendas.
Being green requires attention to details which we grew up ignoring. Not until recently have we ever refused a speaking invitation on the basis of limiting the size of our carbon footprint. But it’s time to get stuck in. Of course, all this domestic carefulness seems almost irrelevant when we see footage of the huge industrial polluters in the world. Our efforts may seem like a drop in the ocean – but it’s for the lack of thinking about small drops in the oceans that we are in the position in which we find ourselves environmentally.
Change in attitudes is a slow process and it’s always fascinating to see it happening. We believe it won’t happen unless we start to introduce our concerns into our everyday conversations without any apology. As we talk freely about the weather, concerns about climate change and the environment can follow naturally. The consequences of a rise in sea level will be catastrophic particularly for some of the poorest people in the world – not just in Bangladesh but in beautiful low-lying areas of the UK like Suffolk. In environmental conversations, discussions about the monster of consumerism and its effects on us all need to become commonplace.
Of course, the problems are so enormous it’s easy to be overwhelmed. We can do our part in being well-informed and sharing our concerns. In all our lives there are bigger and smaller people who will inherit this world, God’s world. We owe it to our children and grandchildren and our global neighbours to do everything we can to protect it.