Monday, August 08, 2005

Environmental Stewardship -- Up close and personal

As a Christian, I take seriously the mandate given humanity for the stewardship of the earth "Be fruitful and increase in number, Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1:28). The mandate to rule is not a mandate for despotism -- we are not authorized to be tyrants over the earth, but rather a stewardship mandate. Theoretically, as the rest of genesis 1 tells us, all the plants and animals on earth have been declared good -- all of them in some way bring glory to God (and a part of our calling is to call attention to and bring out the way these creatures glorify God).

Gene Veith wrote in World Magazine last year about how Christians have a lot to offer the environmental activists....

"Christians will not agree with apocalyptic environmentalism (the notion that nature is doomed because of what human beings are doing to it), nor with anti-human environmentalism (the notion that humanity is nature's cancer), nor with Luddite environmentalism (the notion that all technology and all human dominion over nature are wrong), nor with animal-rights environmentalism (the notion that human beings may not use animals), nor with mystical environmentalism (the notion that nature is divine). Still, Christians should be nature lovers. Christians believe in the doctrine of creation, that nature is God's handiwork. Christians have also historically seen God's moral law as having been built into that objective creation. Not that we look to nature—that realm of predators and prey—for moral models, rather than God's Word, but moral transgressions violate something in human nature and in God's created design."

Now a lot of ink has been spilled about the public policy, but that is not my concern in this post. Beyond the public policy dispute, there are simple individual things that we as Christians can do to live out the stewardship of the earth.

One thing I've been doing is composting -- quite simple really. Save the scraps of vegetables, fruit, coffee grounds, teabags, etc and toss them in a bin with shredded newspaper, lawn clippings, etc. Turn it with a shovel every few days (particularly when you add new material) and within a month or two, you have rich brown compost to add to your garden, bare patches of the lawn, flower beds, etc.

You may think I'm nuts -- but I compost because I learned it from my mom (who has always had an awesome garden) who learned it from her father (who grew the best vegetables) who presumably learned it growing up in rural SC. This isn't some kind of new age concept -- it's basic simple resource management. Why fill up the landfills with organic material and pay for fertilizer when you can re-use what you've got as fertilizer.

Then last year, in the interest of saving on gasoline, I bought a Neuton electric mower (I had seen the product advertised in World Magazine, so I thought it worth a try). The Mower is battery operated, so I don't have to keep explosive gasoline in my basement, I don't have to worry about engine tune ups, I don't have to deal with deafening mower noise. And I leave the mulching blade on, so all the grass clippings go right back into my yard.

Another environmental step we took was just this weekend. Most of us have old paint, aerosol cans, batteries, etc. in our basements. These items, if disposed of improperly, can leach into groundwater, causing undue harm to plants and animals around us, and even getting into our drinking water. At the county fair, I found out that the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services has a place and time for free dropoff of this hazardous waste. These are my tax dollars at work, so why not take advantage of the offer -- Tammy and I cleaned out our basement of dangerous old stuff. look up your county on the web and see if they offer something similar -- it's quite easy.

I take these steps in part because of my faith -- that I'm supposed to be a good steward and a good neighbor and a good citizen. Any ideas on where you're being a good steward?

Soli Deo Gloria