It is time to switch gears. Throughout my last three blogs, I exposed the injustices the disabled community faces. Now, it is time to talk about the environment.
Up until recently, I had not given much thought to the environment. Sure, I recycled, sometimes. Most likely I didn’t do it right. I purchased clothing and other items without thinking of their environmental costs. But, after stumbling into an environmental science and later an environmental ethics class, my perspective quickly changed.
The environment is in danger. In 2021, the US emitted 67 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere. We pollute the environment through the burning of fossil fuels in our electricity and transportation. Additionally, it is estimated that the US alone is responsible for 1.13 million to 2.24 million metric tons of plastic waste leaking into the environment.
Other industries, such as the fashion industry, are responsible for large quantities of waste. Billions of garments are produced each year to meet the growing demand. And as a consequence, approximately 92 million tons of textile waste are created annually.
These numbers are startling, and just touch the surface of the deep environmental crisis our world is facing.
In places like America, it is easy to overlook the current environmental crisis. We have single use plastic ready on demand. There are clothing brands galore to choose from. New products are being released daily. Most of us are able to throw away a plastic cup and never see the negative effects of this action.
The US is responsible for more than 30% of the planet’s total waste. Our waste and pollution has become out of control and is unsustainable. It is time for action.
So why should Christians care? The answer is clear.
First, in the first words written in the Bible, Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the whole earth. He created the plants, animals, and human beings. If God created it, shouldn’t we care for it?
Second, Genesis 2:15 (NIV) states this, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
One of the primary reasons for the creation of the first human beings, Adam and Eve, was for them to take care of God’s creation, the environment. They were placed in control of the Garden of Eden, were tasked with naming all of the plants and animals, and were responsible for their care.
If Adam and Eve were responsible for the Garden, aren’t we, the descendants of Adam and Eve, responsible for the earth today?
The answer to me seems to be clearly, yes. The plants and animals around us are created by God and we were tasked with their care from the beginning.
In his encyclical letter entitled Laudato si’, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us of our deep connection to the created world. He challenges readers to become painfully aware. This requires us “to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.” (§19)
This is also my challenge to you. Become aware of the environment around you and of the effects of your actions. Question the next time you go to buy a shirt or get a coffee to go and force yourself to think deeper about the repercussions. In order for change to happen, we must all work together to be better creatures in order to take care of God’s creation.