More than a billion people around the world will celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, and one student at Harvard Kennedy School of Government believes Christians and churches in general can help protect the environment by promoting and adopting lifestyle changes that cut waste and save money.
"The environment is a gift that demands responsibility and care. Our daily actions threaten the God-given natural resources of the earth, hurt the poor disproportionately, and endanger tomorrow's generations," writes Joel Smoot, a Master of Public Policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in a document shared with The Christian Post this week. The document was prepared for an Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School.
People in some 190 countries take action for Earth Day every year on April 22. Earth Day 2015 is pushing action under its global theme: It's our turn to lead.
"With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people," explains the official Earth Day website.
"Let Earth Day remind us all that we have a responsibility to address our own impacts on our planet. Together, we can make significant strides by reducing our own energy consumption and calling for others to take action with us. Humanity and creation are intertwined, and we each contribute to that relationship," adds Smoot.
Making simple changes like eating less meat because it takes more energy to produce and using energy efficient light bulbs around your home can go a far way in helping to reduce your carbon footprint.
"Good stewardship includes communicating with your friends and neighbors about the opportunities we each have to protect the earth and preserve its resources for future generations. Sharing your experiences can help others identify ways to participate in the collective action needed to address climate change," he explains.
Here's a list of ways churches can encourage their members to address climate change by reducing their carbon footprint.
- Turn down the heat or AC when you are out of the house or sleeping; a programmable thermostat is a helpful tool.
- Switch to LED and Compact Fluorescent bulbs: they are 70-80 % more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last years longer.
- Turn off electronics that are not in use; connecting multiple devices to a power strip makes this easy.
- Check temperature settings on appliances as many can operate efficiently with less energy than the default setting. For example: refrigerators can operate in the 38-40 degree range and water heaters at 120 degrees Celsius or lower.
- Conserve water and reduce the energy used to produce, transport and heat it; low flow devices can be installed in sinks and showers.
- Drive less: bike, walk, or take public transportation.
- Keep your car well-tuned and your tires properly inflated; a poorly tuned car can use 25 percent more gas.
- Ease up on the pedals: avoid rapid starts and hard stops.
- Eat less meat, especially red meat, which requires significantly more energy to produce than grains or other foods; consider adopting "meatless Mondays" or becoming a "weekday vegetarian."
- Minimize food waste by buying the right amount and eating more leftovers.
- Compost food waste if you can.
- Follow the same energy efficiency measures you use at home.
- Ask for occupancy sensors that will turn off the lights in unused rooms.
- Print less and double sided.
- Empower the next generation; talk with your children and grandchildren about environmental stewardship and help them take the lead on reducing your family's energy consumption