Ideas for More Sustainable Living

Some things we can do immediately with minimal effort...

  • Look for plant-based cleaners.
  • Don't dump your clothes, sell or donate! 
  • Replace incandescent lightbulbs with LED/CFL fluorescent bulbs.
  • Unplug rarely-used appliances.
  • Switch over to re-useable shopping bags.
  • Recycle plastic grocery bags (Find a local drop off location.)
  • Turn lights off when leaving a room.
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Use cloth towels instead of paper.
  • Reuse glass jars.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries and learn to recycle old ones at Batterires+ on Youree Dr.
  • Schedule errands back-to-back instead of wasting gas driving around.
  • Make use of your neighborhood compost pile. (Or make a compost bin for your home or neighborhood if one doesn't exist.)
  • Plant and eat out of a community garden, a home garden, or even just a small herb garden.
  • Buy produce that's in season, locally if possible.
  • Clean out your car! Extra weight requires more gas.
  • Get a tune-up! A fully functional car from tires to transmission saves money and gas.
  • Turn your computer off when not in use.
  • Use paper one more time before recycling. (As scratch paper, shopping lists, for writing drafts, note paper, etc.)
  • Don't open the oven if you don't have to, use the oven light and look through the glass.
  • Reduce shower time (even just by 2-minutes).
  • Sleep naked. (Wear less clothes, wash less clothes, buy less clothes...)
  • Water your lawn in the early morning, not in the heat of day.
  • Reduce plastic waste by using matches, not disposable lighters.
  • Stop phone book & newspaper delivery–use the web.

Supper Wagon (A How-To Guide)

 

What: 

A meal/food sharing practice among a group of people and/or houses who are committing to sharing grocery buying/cooking responsibilities. 

Why:

Buying and cooking in bulk saves money. Cooking one meal a week or a month for a large group of people saves more time than cooking 5-7 meals a week for yourself or your home. Supper wagon grows community and healthy interdependence, is economical, and can lower stress by freeing up more time while providing healthy options. 

HOW: 

Depending on the size of the group, creating a weekly, biweekly, or monthly rotation where a person or group of people are responsible for buying, cooking, and delivering a meal to the rest of the group (and/or opening their home to the group to come and eat there). 

The Steps:

  1. Invite people to join you. 
  2. Have those in your new group text you a list of food preferences or allergies (ex: gluten, vegetarian, all organic, etc.)
  3. Send the collected list of preferences and allergies to the whole group and ask them to begin gathering personal recipes of theirs that fall in line with these limitations as best as possible (5-10 per person).
  4. Gather your group together with all of the potential recipes and go through them one by one to see if there are any that someone in the group would absolutely not eat. Cull the ones that aren’t approved by all participants, and/or if the disapproval is only minor, discuss how they may could be tweaked. 
  5. While your group is gathered, decide on the rotation schedule. Have participants pick a night of the week that is typically most free for them. 
  6. Decide on a process of sharing. Will you have a meeting point each morning or evening (like at YH morning prayer)? Or will the responsible party deliver each evening to all the homes? Or will you open your homes for the group to eat with you and/or pick up their ownportion to go? Will you have an “off day” or "off weekends"?
  7. Before leaving, decide on a time that you will come back together to re-evaluate and/or add/subtract recipes (suggested: 3months later).  This is important and keeps food from being wasted. 
  8. Have each person purchase or locate enough tupperware to equal the number of people in the group (if there are 7 participants, each participant needs to have 7 tupperware containers). These containers will be on a constant rotation between houses. 
  9. Pick a date to get started!

Things to consider:

  • If one person in the group has an allergy or a preference not shared by the majority, you can frequently cook things separately or on the side. 
  • Community gardens (or buying things in season) can help cut the cost of cooking vegetables in bulk. 
  • If you cannot retrieve your meal immediately and/or you have plans one night, you can always freeze what has been cooked for you for lunches and/or off days, or you can let your group know that your portion will not need to be cooked that day/week (if you are unable to have it picked up and put into a freezer). 
  • Be honest and communicate often so that you don’t end up throwing food away and spending more money than is necessary. 

Some meal ideas:

  • Red beans & rice, salad & rolls
  • Tacos (beef, fish, or veggie), guacamole & blue corn chips
  • Gluten free spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread
  • Tomato basil soup & grilled cheese
  • Mexican Quinoa & blue corn chips
  • Pad thai, miso, & edamame
  • Chili
  • Homemade pizza (zucchini crust)
  • Grilled fish, asparagus, & sweet potato fries
  • Baked potatoes with the fixins
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Jambalaya or Gumbo, potato salad, & fruit
  • Quinoa pizza bites with marinara dipping sauce & fruit salad 
  • Vegetable soup 
  • Bunless grilled turkey or veggie burgers w/ avocados & homemade baked fries
  • Kale & bean stew, crackers & hummus 
  • Balsamic chicken, broccoli, and rice
  • Grilled kabobs, chili & lime corn
  • Lasagna (vegetarian or meat)

Hand Washing Clothes (A How-To Guide)

Supplies Needed:

  • 3 5-gallon buckets
  • 2 plungers with holes poked into them
  • Water source (hose or faucet)
  • Detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar 

Why hand-wash our clothes?

  • To take an afternoon to be in solidarity with the 1.3billion people who are without electricity today.
  • To acknowledge that the systems in which our world functions now do not parallel resurrection but rather death. Our trash, energy, and land are largely becoming unclean and not renewable, demonstrating poor stewardship of what God made and called “good.” 
  • To rethink some of the ways we practice day to day living that either add to the beauty or brokenness of the world. 
  • To reduce water & electricity usage. The average household uses 13,500gallons of water a year using a washing machine, and the dryer is one of the top energy suckers in our homes—second only to the fridge. 

How…

  • Fill all three 5-gallon buckets with water. Put a couple of tbsp of detergent in the first bucket, leave plain water in the second bucket, and put 1 cup of distilled vinegar in the third bucket. 
  • Place clothes in first bucket. Agitate with plunger for 100 strokes (about 2 minutes). Ring out. 
  • Place clothes in second bucket, let sit for 2minutes, agitate with plunger for 50 strokes (about 1 minute). 
  • Place clothes in third bucket, agitate with plunger for 50 strokes (about 1 minute), ring out, hang to dry on line with clothes pins. 

While washing, You can discuss…

Some other ways to go green with your laundry: only wash in cold water if using a washing machine (34million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be saved if every US household used only cold water for washing clothes), wear clothes more than once, make your own detergent that is better for ecosystems or buy local as to lessen fuel used in shipping, if buying detergent use concentrated ones that use less containers and less space and fuel when shipping, wash by hand or create a pedal washer to get a work out, keep your lint collector clean as to lessen drying time, use a laundromat since industrial machines are more eco-friendly than domestic ones.

Other ways to care for creation: don’t preheat the oven, turn lights off that you’re not using, turn water off that you’re not using, use cloth diapers, go vegetarian once a week (since it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef), wrap presents with newspaper, use your own reusable water bottle, use a mug when staying at a coffee shop or take your own thermos when getting to-go, plant a tree, buy local and in-season, carpool, make a list of errands and get them all done for the week in 1 run, spot treat yard weeds with vinegar and water grass early in the morning before any is wasted in evaporation, recycle cell phones (since 130million will go into the landfill this year), use matches instead of lighters (since 1.5billion end up in landfills each year), buy second hand, use reusable grocery bags

Jesus came to show us that there is life before death and life after death. Do our practices (with our chemical ridden trash and vegetables, our plastics that do not break down, our time-saving focuses) demonstrate this same type of hope and renewal? Do they, like the compost say, “Everything—even death— can be repurposed?” Or do they say, “We want what we want when we want it?”


Let us imagine that another world is possible.   

Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

Click each image for a link to it's website for the "how-to's" of each...

Make cinnamon butter and decorate jars for neighbors, coworkers, family, friends, etc.

Make cinnamon butter and decorate jars for neighbors, coworkers, family, friends, etc.

Make a "Tea Tree" for your tea-drinking friends!

Make a "Tea Tree" for your tea-drinking friends!

30 DIY gifts that are practical!

30 DIY gifts that are practical!

Paper clip angel ornaments...

Paper clip angel ornaments...

Paper-mache map ornaments...

Paper-mache map ornaments...

Paper-mache sheet music ornaments...

Paper-mache sheet music ornaments...

25 DIY gifts you can make fast!

25 DIY gifts you can make fast!

15 DIY Christmas gifts that aren't cheesy...

15 DIY Christmas gifts that aren't cheesy...

Free holiday tag printable PDFs to personalize your gifts...

Free holiday tag printable PDFs to personalize your gifts...

Landfill Theology: This is Our Issue

by Britney Winn Lee

 

If I close my eyes, I am waiting on a Haitian street corner while the big-tire machines swarm around me. I can hear the trickle of drainage water edging along behind me in the road-side-ditch where the trash swims. That smell of things dying–it does something to the senses.

But I am not in the Caribbean. I open my eyes to the emptying of the seventh dump truck I’ve seen since we arrived at the top of Shreveport, Louisiana’s landfill.

 

We have the same problems as third-world countries, it occurs to me. We just have more resources to hide them.

 

It’s been Care for Creation month for us at our intentional community’s intern house. We’ve been spending time with the New Monastic mark of “Caring for the Plot of God’s Earth Given to Us with Support of Our Local Economies.” It has been good to give attention and focus to our lifestyles concerning waste, energy, and God’s economy of enough. Conviction has not been far from us as we remember that justice for God’s people and creation care cannot be separated.

Our first round of diving into the research and understanding of the Church’s responsibility to partner well with the environmental world began last year—a late start in comparison to the rest of the country, but still revolutionary for our southern city. That is when our garden and waste practices first started to reveal to us how Resurrection Theology is so deeply intertwined with caring for God’s good earth.

When it comes to cultivating a raised kale bed, there doesn’t have to be an end-of-the-road destruction for any part of what lives and dies. The seeds of another plant get pressed down into our dark soil. The kale that grows to full potential gets harvested and consumed, giving energy and sustenance to those in the house. The kale that begins rotting before its prime time gets pulled and turned back into the compost pile where it will break down to enrich the soil which will be used for the Spring planting.

Death does not mean the end, the garden proclaims. Death means life. And this is true not only for fall vegetables, but also for our homes and our kitchens and our trashcans. There is a way that we can honor and steward and partner so well that what we no longer need doesn’t just have to pile up in a mountain of rot, but rather it can be repurposed for life-again.

But by and large, we don’t practice that–not here in my town, at least.

And I know this because of the landfill.

The landfill which receives 1500 tons of waste a day. A DAY. Waste that is filled with some chemical-free, decomposable matter, but primarily consisting of materials that are either chemically-ridden or that won’t break down for over 1000 years (or both).

The landfill which will be unusable after only 53 years of service. Four hundred and three acres of land will be sitting, rotting, and hiding the trash of 2.5 generations of humans who didn’t think twice once the trucks left our driveways.

The landfill where hundreds of euthanized animals are dumped each month along with our plastic bottles and grocery bags and cardboard.

“How long until we could reuse the land?” asked one of the interns to our very kind tour guide. “Well, I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never thought about it.”

 

We don’t have think about it, it seems. I don’t have to think about it. I pay someone to take the issue elsewhere, and I don’t have to make decisions concerning my practices.

But yesterday I could not deny how I have added to the brokenness, how I have dumped without conscience my load after load into an end-of-the-road reality for the world that God made and called good. I have not added to the beauty of resurrection where things of death are made new again.

I thought of the word replenish in the 28th verse of Genesis chapter one.

 

And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

 

Was this passage strictly talking about Adam and Eve populating the world? Maybe. But it does say to re-plenish—as in, to fill again. Maybe that first commandment was to be always fruitfully multiplying stewards of all of the world, working with God to create life and, when it is time and as it is needed, to restore it to the former level or condition. Renew it. Resurrect it. Make it whole and alive again as it once was.

In Romans the New Testament tells us that Creation waits for God’s children, in hope that it will be set free from its bondage to decay. While the garden proclaims resurrection, the landfill groans, waiting for a Movement to set it free. This should not strictly or primarily be an issue of nonbelievers while the Body sits by and labels it “a green movement” for “liberals” and argues with global warming. This is our issue. This is our responsibility.

And there are ways to do it differently. Here are a few things we’re trying at our little community:

 

Going paper free. Paper towels, paper plates, paper cups. Replacing all of them with cloth and ceramic/glass which can be reused and rewashed. This means cleaning toilets with a cloth rag and wiping up spills with the same. It’s not that terrible, I’ve tried it all of two weeks and haven’t died.

 

Switching to a reusable glass water bottle instead of buying/using plastic ones. Not only is this better for our health chemical-wise, but plastic bottles will be in our dirt for another 50 generations.

 

Purchasing four or five $0.99 reusable grocery bags the next time you’re at the store. THEY ARE BETTER. I am not the kind of person who likes to make six trips out to the car when I get home from the grocery store. Reusable bags are bigger and have sturdier handles. You can make one big mule-like trip in if you want with these. And then the hundreds of plastic bags that you used last year (which will be in the land not budging long after you and I are gone) don’t have to multiply again this year.

 

Using cloth diapers or a cloth diaper service. Eighteen billion disposable diapers end up in landfills every year where they remain for 500+ years. Plus they can cost $18-$25 a week. Cloth is cheaper—both for the family using them and for the earth that receives them.

 

Growing whole foods and composting. The less chemically processed foods we are growing and/or buying and eating, the better it is for the soil (whether in a landfill or in our compost bin). Plus, it’s better for our bodies. Here’s a great video about making your own indoor worm compost bin for anyone who doesn’t have the outdoor space to make a pile.

 

Taking your own coffee cup to coffee shops if you are on the go. Most will let you do this.

 

Spending some time researching what can be recycled into your bins (if your city provides bins), where the closest drop-off is (if your city doesn’t provide bins), and where you can take the waste that your city doesn’t recycle instead of sending it to the landfill (like car batteries, tires, appliances, aerosol cans, etc). There are alternatives. For example, our city offers hazardous waste collections which takes place 8 times a year for some things such as these. Google is a wonderful tool.

 

Making it a game. How can we send AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to the landfill. Or how can we make sure what we do send is quickly decomposable and/or without chemicals? This is doable.

 

It is good news that Resurrection is a reality and a truth. It is good news that we get to experience it every single day when we choose to die to self and rise with Christ. It is good news that we get to offer it to people, to the planet, and to the planet for the people who live here.

 

We are not too far gone to do right by the earth.


First published online at: britneywinnlee.com & redletterchristians.org

Videos

Wendell Berry, a quiet and humble man, has become an outspoken advocate for revolution. He urges immediate action as he mourns how America has turned its back on the land and rejected Jeffersonian principles of respect for the environment and sustainable agriculture. Berry warns, “People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.”
 

In a rare television interview, this visionary, author – and farmer – discusses a sensible, but no-compromise plan to save the Earth.


Nancy and Matthew Sleeth, Founders of Blessed Earth, join Tony and Shane to talk about the importance and urgency of Creation Care and what small steps we can do in our everyday life to help the environment.


350 is the most important number in the world. It's the safe line for our global climate and a start line for a global movement. Visit 350.org to join the movement (and invite your friends to our Facebook group!)


"A Rocha is currently working in 20 countries around the globe conducting scientific research, running hands-on conservation projects and operating environmental education programs—all in community settings and with a holistic approach to improve the wellbeing of both people and places.

A Rocha is not your typical environmental conservation organization and while projects vary around the world according to local context, needs and leadership, each seeks to benefit both people and place and is characterized by our distinct core commitments:

We are CHRISTIAN. Underlying all we do is our biblical faith in the living God, who made the world, loves it and entrusts it to the care of human society.

We conduct CONSERVATION projects. We carry out research for the conservation and restoration of the natural world and run environmental programs for people of all ages.

We live and work in COMMUNITY. Through our commitment to God, each other and the wider creation, we aim to develop good relationships both within the A Rocha family and in our local communities.

We are CROSS-CULTURAL. We draw on the insights and skills of people from diverse cultures, both locally and around the world at our 20 project locations.

Our work is done in COOPERATION.  We work in partnership with a wide variety of organizations and individuals who share our concerns for a sustainable world."

Other Resources for Louisiana 

 

1. Louisiana Bucket Brigade

“The Louisiana Bucket Brigade uses grassroots action to create an informed, healthy society with a culture that holds the petrochemical industry and government accountable for the true costs of pollution.” (Mission Statement)

 

2. The Green Army

The Green Army exists to “address a myriad of environmental concerns in Louisiana, including:

  • Louisiana coastal erosion
  • Saltwater intrusion in the Baton Rouge aquifer
  • Sinkhole in Bayou Corne
  • Concerns about drilling in Lake Peigneur natural gas storage caverns
  • Fracking in St. Tammany”

 

3. 350

“350.org is building a global climate movement. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries.” For the 350 chapter in Shreveport-Bossier, visit its Facebook page.

 

4. A Liturgy of Creation & Communion

A thank you to Brian McLaren for the resource...