Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wall-E and Environmental Stewardship: Finding hope among the trash

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
--Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
--Hebrew 10:23-24 (NIV)

Our church hosted a Family Movie Night tonight. We ate hot dogs, potato salad, and cookies, and watched Wall-E -- part love story, part environmentalist manifesto.

Despite its worst-case-scenario-propaganda-ish tone, I really like the film, and we all had a great time. Ironically, we ate our dinner on paper plates.

Old habits die hard, especially when kids are involved. Life is more complicated, and we want to simplify. Who wants to have to stay late running the dishwasher when it's nearing bedtime and the little ones are melting down? What if someone with small hands drops a dish? (Who's going to tell the Church Ladies?!)

The point of the event was fellowship -- a fun night for families, a night off from cooking and dishes duties. It was easy to understand why environmental stewardship didn't make the planning agenda, despite the movie choice.

Six years ago, after our first two sons were born 18 months apart, some of my previously eco-conscious habits turned toward the convenient. Trekking out to the compost bin behind the garage lost its place on my priority list. I didn't have enough cloth napkins to make it through three meals a day with a baby and a toddler. And the recyclables often piled up in the corner of kitchen until I got sick of looking at them and threw everything in the trash.

I was breast-feeding -- that spared a lot of waste. And I was still the only person I knew in town who cloth diapered. Wasn't that enough? I had a sign above my kitchen sink that said "Simplify," and that's what I went with. Like most moms of young children, I didn't have time to think beyond my own tiny, poop-stained world.

So, if that's where you are -- I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND.

Fast forward to 2008. Green is the new black. You're no longer a freak if you care about the environment -- just a liberal. Our area got its first organic CSA program. Billboards went up encouraging people to use the optional recycling pick-up program. (This is conservative California ag country, after all. We're about 10 years behind Seattle, which is where I went to college and picked up most of my crunchy habits.)

Whether you like the recent change of administration or not, it's hard to deny that the world is changing. We have followed God's commandment to populate the earth. Now we should probably start picking up after ourselves.

This is not about legalistic environmentalism or fear of the end of the world. God knows what He's doing, and He's made promises to those who believe in Him and follow Him.

This is just about taking responsibility where we're capable of taking it. Maybe you're already carrying a pretty heavy cross. Some of us need to take baby steps. Baby steps behind our Lord Jesus, whose holiness and sacrifice have paved the way for our own maturity.

In the last few months, my husband has made coffee hour after church his ministry. He's brewing Fair Trade organic coffee, wheeling out the parish's china mugs and saucers instead of the styrofoam cups everyone was used to, and then wheeling them back to the kitchen to run through the dishwasher.

It's not much, but it's making a difference. Not only are we avoiding a lot of trash, but more people are actually staying after church for fellowship!

He has inspired me, that hubby of mine. One of my goals of the last year has been to create new habits, slowly but surely, that will help my family live more responsibly in relation to God's creation. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the bad news, by how much we're not doing, by how many things we use that can't be recycled or composted yet still seem necessary.

But what if you had some pretty little somethings to help you on your journey? I know they make a difference for me. So, I've been working on a little surprise for you, my readers and friends, to say "thank you" for visiting, and to thank my God for the beauty of His creation.

Please check back after the weekend to see what the surprise is!

As Wall-E knew, not everything left behind and forgotten was worthless.


Lisa said...

Amen, amen, amen!

I definitely still have room to work on in this, but it is so good to know I'm not the only one in Bakersfield who thinks this way.

See you Thursday!

Lift Up Your Hearts said...

I love the tone of this. Inspiring and encouraging!

Dawn said...

I loved that movie, and what you said here. Little things, like what your husband is doing with the coffee, all add up and make a difference.

TheOrganicSister said...

I have yet to see Wall-E but it's encouraging to know thru so many mediums an eco-message is resonated with people of all walks of life. There definitely is "change" in the air and it's encouraging to sy the least.

Noticed your goals for 2009 was mama pads. Must say they are wonderful! I made my own and also purchased some from Etsy. That and cloth toilet paper are two things I never thought I'd do that I will not give up. :)


Maureen said...

Wonderful make some very good points here.

Funny thing too, we went to a True Love Waits conference this weekend...and one of the things I couldn't help thinking about was all the paper products being thrown into the garbage (not exactly the emphasis I SHOULD have been focusing on :)

Maureen said...

ps. "You're no longer a freak if you care about the environment -- just a liberal."

...tee hee :)

princessmama said...

Very encouraging post, thanks:)

I have in mind to start using cloth grocery bags, but it's going to be a slow process for me, first making the bags, then remembering to bring them in the store! I just hate the giant pile of plastic bags we accumulate so quickly, and while they are recyclable, i'd rather not use them at all.

I see you have 'make cloth mama pads' on your to-do list. I have to say, i did this a couple years ago and i absolutely love them.

We are also working on cloth 'kleenex'. I don't like the idea of little ones carrying around a sticky, snotty, germ filled hanky all day so we cut up an old stained shirt into five inch squares(it was a turtle-neck and very nice and soft) When I get my sewing machine back I am going to zig-zag the edges and make a bag for dirties. We'll see how this works out:)

It can be fun thinking of little things to do for the good of the environment. I second you to say, be at peace where you are and what you are capable of now. Don't make it a chore:-)

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Thank you for all the lovely comments!

Regarding mama pads, I do have a few that I've used for the last several years, but they were never enough. I'm sure I'll post more about that when I finish the project. :)

mandi said...

ooohh! i can't wait!

this is a good post for me to read. it has helped confirm some ideas i have about ways to encourage and empower busy moms to make the baby steps.

side note: i bought a cross stitch piece this weekend from an estate sale that says 'love is homegrown' - and it made me think of you, my blog friend!

Tammy said...

Great post!! The big thing for me, since moving into our house, has been how to create less trash?? I really try, but everything we buy, seems to come with so much packaging!! I want to try the cloth napkins, as soon as I get some money together to buy a bunch. And, I do have the cloth grocery bags as well, but remembering to take them is hard. I guess we have to train ourselves.

Looking forward to the surprise!!

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

CM, you wrote "more people are actually staying after church for fellowship!"

That is fantastic!!! You cannot have proper communion without community and if you can make people think about the work of God's hands as well, amazing.

Kim said...

I have no interest in going "green" for the sake of being green...however I dislike being wasteful. It reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods. Those people used EVERYTHING. Right down to blowing up the pig's bladder for the kids to play with. It inspires me to find a use for things and not create so much garbage.

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