Saturday, October 4, 2008

the least of these...

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40 TNIV

I would like to start a discussion where we can share ideas on how our everyday choices affect the world around us. In our global community even the purchase of a can of soda can impact people all over the world not to mention the environmental costs of the production and left over can or bottle. We’ll start with a few websites that came out of Michael Frost’s book that we are currently reading.
1. Responsible Shopper
2. CorpWatch
I like Responsible Shopper, plus the main website, Co-op America, has links to many environmental resources. CorpWatch is a little harder to follow but the cartoons are great.
What is your response to these websites or are there others you’ve looked at? How does this information make you feel? I can easily feel overwhelmed which then leads to apathy. How far are you willing to go?


maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I have worked to make a lot of changes in my life, but I tend to get really overwhelmed when I look at the grand scheme of it all. So I hope that my choices make a difference, but I don't try to be aware. (I don't know if that makes sense.) Here are some examples in my life:
--switched to using aluminum-free baking soda as deodorant (this idea I got from Heather): reduces chemicals in the body like parabens, but also is way cheaper and reduces the use of plastics in my home
-brush my teeth with baking soda: pretty much the same reasons
-almost always buy clothes secondhand or wear my sister's hand-me-downs or try to buy responsibly like at American Apparel
-grow my own vegetables: A lot of us try to do this. Reduces chemicals, petroleum use, increases love for the environment

These are just some examples-I'd like to hear everybody else!

Magoo said...

Matt, you have opened a great discussion, I believe this topic is something that we as followers of Jesus must look at and discuss. But the discussions should lead us to action. The people that made up the early church were known as "the Way"....more than a group with the same religious beliefs, or lack of, they embodied a new way of living, being socially responsible and living in away that was in direct conflict to the Roman Empire. I confess, I have not been a responsible consumer and have not been considering the global impact of my choices. I have checked out the websites and am a bit overwhelmed, but know that God is calling me to be more aware and then act on the information that has been gathered. Jamie, I love how you are living out the kingdom of heaven here, by the choices you are making, thank you for sharing, you are an inspiration to myself and others. This is new territory for me so I would love to hear more.

Matt said...

I recently read a story about the abolition of slavery in England. The abolitionists in England, comprised mostly of Christians, started a campaign to boycott sugar produced in colonies that used slave labor. Using brochures and word of mouth sales of sugar produced with slave labor were cut in half. In contrast sales of sugar produced in areas without slaves increased almost 10-fold. Stores all over England went to great lengths to stock sugar from areas that were slave free. Many cite this as one of the factors that lead to the abolition of slavery in England. Just one example of how our choices can affect others.
Personally I just try to keep myself informed and make decisions based on that information.
- I try to buy food that is produced locally.
- My work doesn’t recycle so I collect the recyclables and take them home to recycle myself.
-I’ve tried to be more energy efficient at home by replacing light bulbs as they burned out with more efficient ones. I only run washer/dryer/dishwasher when full and line dry clothing as much as possible.
I think you have to change your lifestyle based on how the Spirit guides you. I have been spending a lot of time recently looking through websites trying to inform myself and when I feel overwhelmed I pray about it and move ahead. When you look at the world it’s easy to ask why does God allow these things to happen but I think the better question is why WE allow them to happen. I love the story of Exodus because God lead his people out of Egypt to be a people “set apart”. God blessed his people so they could bless the world. Some people talk of the New Exodus which is to say God through Jesus has brought us out of the oppression of sin, or blessed us, and now it’s our responsibility to help bless the world. We are the embodiment of God, the body of Christ, and it is through our actions and words that we help bring about the Kingdom of God here and now.

Jimbo said...

I'd have to admit there are a lot of areas for change in my life. With 4 daughters and two of them teenagers, our family tends to be pretty big consumers. In my past, I wouldn't have cared much about conserving, environmental protection, or exploitation of the planet or others.
In the last couple of years I've become more aware of this. Especially when I see my daughters wasting and how quickly they buy into the consumer mentality.
Not long ago someone shared this with me and I found it very helpful in understanding how we got to this place.
I also find it very overwhelming, trying to turn the tide. We recycle what we can, and started using plastic plates, cups and forks that we wash and reuse (rather than paper ones we throw away) whenever we have gathings. These seem like such a small dent. We are trying to be more aware, but we've got a LONG way to go.

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

Jim, I'd be curious to hear how your daughters think. Maybe we could have a discussion surrounding this topic where they present ideas to us? Maybe a fifteen minute presentation by them--would that be something they'd like to do with us? Something to involve them?

Matt said...

Great thought Jamie. I constantly worry about bringing up my children to be responsible and I have to admit I don't know how to do that. I guess the only thing I can do is show them by my actions and try to explain those actions.

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I bet they have a lot of ideas to share. I'd like to learn from them too.

Heather said...

It is sort of overwhelming-- especially with kids, just because we are conditioned to think they "need" so many things. We've made a lot of eco changes in our family, but there are still SO many more we need to do. Here are some of the things we've changed:
-We only use energy efficient light bulbs
-I only clean with dish soap, vinegar, and baking soda
-We recycle, but also try to buy the least amount of packaging...we buy a lot of food from the bulk bins at Sprouts.
-Cloth grocery bags, cloth diapers, cloth napkins

We're also trying to reduce the amount of plastics our family uses. I took all of the girls' plastic toys and put them in the yard sale bin (okay, it's half the garage)
I like your idea Jamie about only buying second-hand or from AA...that is one area we really need to work on.

If only you could look at a can of coffee and see that its production stripped the land and paid unfair wages to poor families...but unfortunately they don't put that on the label. Becoming aware of things like that is most of the battle--
It seems really strange to me that I have no idea where half the stuff I buy comes from. Who makes it, who was hurt making it, what's actually in it...but like a few of you said, when I actually find out, it does get overwhelming. Still, once I have the knowledge, I definitely feel like I have the responsibility.

Tom F said...

I definitely was overwhelmed by what I read, but then as someone mentioned and I believe represents Jesus' message, think globally act locally. But also to act as a collective as well is important. A lot of my disconnect with the Church was the talk about serving and helping the poor etc, meanwhile they are spending money on expanding their kingdom. Sorry got off topic there.
green stuff
Even if we affect one person for the better it's a difference and thats what matters.

Justin Narducci said...

To add to Heather's comment about coffee, it may be worth checking out this movie:

I haven't watched it myself, but did hear great reviews.


Tara said...

Not sure who here tunes into Mars Hill but a year or so ago they did a series called "God is Green" that Adam and I both found quite inspiring (Not sure if you can get it from their website anymore, but maybe if you contact them? We might have it in our iTunes...) One of the guest speakers was Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God, Save the planet, a book that really got me thinking about the interconnectedness of faith/social awareness/"green-ness," etc. A really good read, as well as a big challenge to the way we view stewardship.

To some it may (and I stress "may") seem like we have made a lot of changes in our lifestyle, but like others have said, the more changes we make the more we realize how much further we could go with them. I think that composting our kitchen waste and using cloth diapers have been the biggest contributors in reducing our weekly trash output. I am continually amazed at how many of these changes are so much more beneficial not only for the environment but also for our health and the health of others.

Matt said...

Love Mars Hill! Matthew Sleeth has a website, Serve God, Save the Planet. I have to admit that this stuff really propelled me forward in my faith. Just 2 years ago I would have told you Environmental Christian was an oxymoron, but when I heard that series God is Green it really opened me up to viewing the bible in different ways.

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

Composting is awesome! It has totally reduced the amount of trash we have. And when I have to compost some vegetables or fruit I let go bad, I only feel a little guilty because it is going to eventually feed my plants instead of me.