Soul Care Community: Christianity and Caring for Creation

This article, written by Kathy Milans, was first posted on Soul Care Community

The Kentucky River is my sanctuary. But, after a heavy rain, it looks like a garbage dump. Last evening, I went out in my kayak and within five minutes I collected twelve plastic drink containers, two basketballs, and a can of engine degreaser. My mind starts churning. “So how in the world did all of this make its way into the river? Did someone just dump their trash bag along a river bank? Did another boater chuck their refreshment container over the side of the boat?” I notice frustration and sadness looming in my soul.

I have to admit that I’ve had my head in a hole. Yes, I’ve noticed the trash that people spew along the sides of the road. I am thankful for the prison work crews that clean up the debris. But, until I’ve lived along this river, I’ve never been directly confronted with what plastic in particular is doing to our environment. So, in doing some Google searching for this article, I became more aware of actually the lack of waste that is in my area versus other places on the planet. To become more aware, click on this link:

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2018/06/the-theme-for-world-environment-day-2018-is-beat-plastic-pollution/562082/

I have noticed that social media and the mainline news have recently been publishing information regarding plastics and our environment. Recently McDonald’s made the news due to the fact that the company is making the commitment to find an alternative to plastic straws for our drinks.

I’ve learned the following facts from plasticpollution.coalition.org:

  1. Plastic is a material that continues to exist. A small amount of it has been incinerated and then becomes toxic material.
  2. Plastic creates pollution in its manufacture, use, and disposal. Plastic particles show up in wildlife on our oceans and on land. Therefore, it is contaminating our food chain. Over 260 species of animals have been reported to have digested plastic. This leads them to suffer from impaired movement, feeding issues, reduced reproduction, lacerations, ulcers and death.
  3. Plastics have been found in the bloodstream of humans, including newborn babies.
  4. Landfills contain mounds of plastic. The toxic chemicals then seep into groundwater and eventually into our drinking water.
  5. We Americans discard over 30 million tons of plastic each year. Out of this amount, only 8% gets recycled. Over 5 trillion plastic pieces are afloat at sea. This is over 250,000 tons of plastic. Disposable plastics are used for a brief period of times as bags, bottles, straws, cups, food packaging etc. But the remains of such items last forever. Research shows that plastics can remain on our earth for over 2,000 years.

Based on this information, I’ve become acutely aware of my own plastic usage. I’ve noticed that it is almost impossible to grocery shop without filling my cart with plastic. There are the plastic bags for produce, plastic wrapping around fresh mushrooms, plastic liners within the cookie bag, and plastic wrapping around organic beef. Then I saw an article about plastic microbeads in facial wash. I grabbed my face scrub and sure enough, it contains plastic beads. I then do another Google search only to learn from www.plasticfreeseas.org that each 130g tube of face scrub contains more than 1.476 million plastic beads!

It makes me wonder what God is thinking and feeling about the way we are treating His earth. I ponder what steps I can take to do my part in this problem.

  1. Continue to pick up litter as I walk and kayak.
  2. No more facial scrub with microbeads.
  3. Think twice before buying a plastic item that is disposable and won’t be used again.
  4. Encourage businesses I frequent to discontinue disposable plastic use.
  5. Bring my own grocery thermal bags to the store rather than allowing the store to pack my groceries in plastic bags.
  6. Make sure the plastic I buy can be recycled.
  7. Pray for our earth.

Creator God, you make all things and weave them together in an intricate tapestry of life.
Teach us to respect the fragile balance of life and to care for all the gifts of your creation.
Guide by your wisdom those who have power and authority, that, by the decisions they make, life may be cherished
and a good and fruitful Earth may continue to show your glory and sing your praises.

Almighty God, you have called us to tend and keep the garden of your creation.
Give us wisdom and reverence for all your plants and animals who share this planet with us and whose lives make possible our own.
Help us to remember that they too love the sweetness of life and join with us in giving you praise.
(From the National Council of Churches [NCC] Earth Day Sunday 2001 resource packet.)

Theologian Richard Rohr says, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” I encourage you to look around you and think about how you might begin a “practice of the better.”


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