Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Baby Steps, With Help

Very often, something nice happens when you start making an effort to change. People you know start trying to help you out!

After my last post, Denise commented that they take newspapers from the high school to Christians in Action for recycling, so I called them to get more details. Turns out, they take more than just newsprint - also cardboard, plastics, and aluminum! So recycling CAN be done locally - what a great thing this is! Already got a basket for newspapers in the den, and I'll figure out a way to keep the other stuff corralled for what I hope will be weekly trips to CIA.

Then, last week I was in my favorite coffee place...$$... and I was telling Roger, their crackerjack manager, that I've started working on not throwing away so much stuff, and he said "wait here for just a second!" He went into the back and came out with this neat, washable container that holds my Iced Venti Latte just perfectly. So now I pull up, place my order and say "I've got my cup!" and they wait till I get to the window, then make my drink right in the cup for me. Extremely awesome.

Who knew being "conservative" could be so much fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Baby Steps

When I was a kid, and when my kids were kids, we used to sing this song in Vacation Bible School:

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

Lately, I've been thinking about the words of this song in terms of what our responsibilities are to the earth we live on. It seems to me that environmentalism has become, to many on the religious and/or political right, something that's considered silly or trivial or even somehow evil, but at most, unnecessary. As if we oughtn't concern ourselves with caring for the environment because, you know, what's going to happen is going to happen.

I dunno.

Because, if we take the lyrics of the hymn to heart? This IS our Father's world. If we accept that, then aren't we compelled to act? To be good stewards of the "rocks and trees...skies and seas" that were wrought by His hand? Isn't that the Christian thing to do?

I am as guilty as anyone of being wasteful. Of throwing something away when I could do something else with it instead of consigning it to the dump. Of turning down the air conditioner instead of turning up the ceiling fan. Of driving to places I could walk to. Of tossing ink cartridges in the trash instead of taking them to Office Max to be recycled.

So I'm taking baby steps. Gotta start somewhere.

Paris doesn't offer any kind of a recycling program that I know of, so we're sending a LOT of paper, glass and plastic to the landfill that I wish we weren't. Maybe that will come. We live about a quarter mile (as the crow flies) from Walmart. It's a good bit longer walking, I'll grant you that...but I'll bet if I walked there instead of driving, I'd make a list, and then shorten it, if I knew I had to walk home carrying what I bought! I have purchased some reusable string bags to help eliminate the Walmart bags that have threatened at times to take over the kitchen. I'm trying to use more Tupperware and less plastic wrap and ziploc bags. Fewer paper towels and more cloth towels. We've replaced almost all of our incandescent bulbs with CFLs. I'm trying to think ahead before I get in the car, so that I combine errands instead of going one place on one trip. I'm trying to talk Randy into buying one of the little Smartfortwo cars and giving up a larger car, but I'm not having luck on that front. So far. We've almost (but not totally) eliminated the need for electric heat with our propane logs and some really wonderful down comforters! I'm reading Hints from Heloise - go ahead and laugh, but she was a woman ahead of her time, and so is her daughter - for tips on using regular, more earth-friendly household items like vinegar and baking soda to do things we've been buying too many cleaning chemicals to do.

Baby steps.

Right after we got back from Europe, Randy and I read an article in The Dallas Morning News that really resonated with us. One of the points the author made was that "conservative" means something different to most Europeans than to most Americans. He speaks of a conversation with his German father-in-law like this: "In a revealing moment, my father-in-law pointed to the solar panels and the wood piles and the gardens and the compost heaps and told me that they were conservative – meaning that they represented the effort to conserve the goods of life, to preserve a community that can sustain itself and to pass on a cultural inheritance that has been bestowed upon them."

I freely admit that I am a child of technology. I love what technology has brought to our lives. We have so many things we don't NEED, but which make our lives so much more pleasant. I adore our DVR. Do I need it? Um-m-m...no. Do I need a dishwasher? A clothes dryer? Well, not in the strictest sense, but PLEASE let's don't get ridiculous here.

What I want to do - and what I am coming to believe is my responsibility as a citizen, as a Mom, and as a follower of Christ - is to recognize what I can do to be a conservator of my Father's world. I'd like for Jackson and Ethan, for my great-nieces and great-nephews, and for my grandkids...my FAR IN THE FUTURE grandkids...to be able to sing "This is My Father's World" and for them to be able to see for themselves what wonders His Hand has wrought.