Starting the creation care journey can be overwhelming. When we first met the Sleeths in the summer of 2008, my wife and I were still very “green” in our green lifestyles. It had only been a couple years since we had first begun to see the connections between our faith, our actions, and the environment, and we were inundated with many choices, changes, and challenges that lay before us. That’s why we decided to take things a month at a time.
Beginning in 2008 we chose one creation care change each month and worked at turning that change into a regular habit. By giving ourselves the freedom to focus on just one per month, we were able to make changes at a sustainable pace and to avoid getting weighed down by guilt over what we weren’t doing.
We began the first month by opting to receive our electricity from 100% renewable energy. Despite having electric heat in upstate New York, this one-time, 5-minute change cost us a mere $10 extra per month. February saw us beginning to use reusable shopping bags rather than plastic. March brought composting into our lives and in April we switched all our bulbs to compact fluorescents.
Some changes have been more difficult than others. I love meat. However, the production of meat uses significantly more resources and energy than other foods and typically involves unhealthy, environmentally destructive, and inhumane methods. Thus, rather than tackling meat right away, we’ve gradually cut back on the amount of meat we eat and have switched to local, organic, non-factory farmed meat over a period of years.
These changes have continued over time, and we’ve been surprised at how easily they’ve become incorporated into our regular lives. No longer do we think about turning off the lights when we leave the room, avoiding products with high fructose corn syrup, or choosing fair trade coffee–it just happens. We still have a long way to go, but with the grace of God we are making progress.
New Year’s resolutions often fail because we are too ambitious, are motivated for the wrong reasons, or don’t pursue them in a sustainable way. If you’re interested in implementing once-a-month creation care changes this year, follow these tips to set yourself up for a successful 2011 New Year’s resolution. You’ll be surprised at how much your life will have changed at the end of 12 months!
- Select “low-hanging fruit” first. Start with changes you can succeed with and tackle the more difficult ones later.
- Give yourself the freedom to do just one change per month.
- Diversify your area of focus. After focusing on energy reduction, try a food theme for the next month, followed by something related to waste/recycling the following month, etc.
- Some changes may cost extra (switching to organic foods) and some will save money (eating out less); balance the saving and spending months to avoid blowing your budget.
- Encourage others to join you in the process.
Your brother in Christ,
Brian serves as the Director of Communications for Blessed Earth and is passionate about helping people connect their faith with God’s call to care for his creation. He lives with his wife, Becky, and daughter, Acadia (“Cadie”), in western New York where he also serves as the Director of Intercultural Student Programs at Houghton College.