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 Action 22: Love things we do not own. Look round your garden or your nearest park and choose a plant – a flower or a tree – and spend time admiring it, paying it attention. If we are to be truly motivated to care for the world around us, we need to fall in love with it. This year I have been drawn to the weeds that grow in the garden and see them now as wild flowers. 

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Action 21: Embrace minimalism. Favour frugalism.  

Consuming less is one clear way of reducing our carbon footprint. Consuming less is not about being parsimonious nor being a kill joy. 

Consuming less can involve buying second or hand – pre-loved items. It is equally about ‘loving’ what we do have. Why not look through your wardrobe or your cupboard and pick out a favourite item that you have had for a long while, and appreciate its personal history. 

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Action 20: Take a photo of the youngest person in your family – this  is my 4 month old grand nephew. How old will that person be in 2030? By then we hope the world will have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% below 1990. This should keep the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C. Try and imagine what their world then will be like? Will summers be even hotter and even wetter than now? Will there be more and stronger storms and floods? Will houses be better insulated? Will they have been adapted to cope with heat waves? Will transport system be all electric? Will they have been adapted to cope with floods and landslides? Will there still be the same diversity of wild plants and animals that we see now or will some have been pushed out of their niche in the  ecosystem by climate change? Will schools be solar powered? Will school leavers be finding jobs in a burgeoning green sector? 

What kind of future are we creating for the next generation?

We shall not comply

When advertisers exhort us to drive ever larger fast cars –

We shall not comply.

When fashion houses entreat us to buy clothes for the beach and more for barbecue, clothes for lounging and more for reclining – 

We shall not comply.

When top chefs urge us to buy tropical fruits and exotic grains, to eat strawberries in January and avocados in September –

We shall not comply.

When your companies tout trips to the Tropics, all flights included, 
or city breaks by air –

We shall not comply.

When weekend magazines promote this season’s new colour schemes wall paper and furnishing, out with the old and in with the new –

We shall not comply.

When tech industries unveil this year’s new phone, the upgraded tablet and irreparable head sets –

We shall not comply.

When governments tell us  that coal mines are good and ask for our vote –

We shall not comply.

When trend setters define the next must-have accessory and deride what was last season’s in thing – 

We shall not comply.

When politicians tell us national needs are all important and foreigners must wait – 

We shall not comply.

Holy God, 

keep awake in us a true love for the earth, 

its flora and fauna, our brothers and sisters.

Strengthen our resolve to live within our means, 

to act with compassion, and following your will –

We shall COMPLY!

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Action 19: Give your car a holiday. Where you might go by car, try different options. 

Walk or cycle.  Enjoy the fresh air and the exercise. 

Take the bus or the train. When you’re not driving, you can enjoy taking in the view, or have the time to read. 

If you have time, you might make the journey into an adventure or plan a scenic route. 


Eco Tips

Curtailing food waste

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Reducing food waste

4..5 million tonnes of food is wasted by UK households each year – that equates to 12.5 million tonnes CO2. Avoiding waste is about only buying what is actually going to be eaten within the shelf life of the food stuff.

  • Plan meals
    • plan a daily menu or a weekly menu. This way you will know what food/ ingredients you need.
    • think about portion sizes: eg portion of protein = 30g nuts, 2 eggs, 90g meat, or 150g cooked beans or pulses.
    • check which ingredients you already have and which additional items you need to buy.
  • Make a shopping list and use it: buying extra may be storing up future waste.
  • Think about using alternative or substitute ingredients.
    • if a recipe asks for peas and you haven’t any, can you use chopped courgette/ apple/ dried peas?
    • if celeriac is on your shopping list but not in the shop, can you buy carrots/ parsnips/ sweet potato instead?
  • Plan your meal according to what you already have.
    • Rather than buying a complete set of ingredients, create a recipe that uses what you already have.
    • Use up ingredients that are in your fridge that would otherwise go out of date. Try the internet for ‘fridge clearing’ recipes.
    • If you have left leftovers from a previous meal, incorporate them into today’s meal
  • Make good use of a glut. If you have an excess amount of a food or if there is a really good offer at your local shop, have a go at food preserving . Excess fruit can be bottled, made into jam, or made into chutney. Excess vegetables can be pickled, fermented or made into chutney.
  • Store all food stuffs carefully so as to keep them fresh and maintain their life. Some foods – like potatoes – are best kept in breathable (paper/ cotton) bag that excludes light. Some are best kept in bags – eg carrots and root vegetables – to stop them drying out. Some are best kept in the fridge such as cucumbers and lettuces. Some are best kept out of the fridge such as apples and tomatoes.
  • If you shop locally and buy locally produced foods, less food is likely to be wasted in the distribution chain. Try a fruit and veg box scheme that comes direct from the farm.
  • Be ready to buy small or oddly shaped fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded. Some fruit and veg box schemes such as OddBox, specialise in sourcing products that are either small, misshapen or surplus to demand.
  • Buy and eat food that is in season.
  • Have a few recipes that use only store cupboard ingredients so that you can always make a meal with what’s in the house. Eg spaghetti with a tinned tomato and haricot bean sauce, garnished with black olives.

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Action 18: Swop dairy products for plant based ones. Many people opt for oat milk flat whites when they go to a cafe. Why not opt for oat milk at home – on your cereal, in your coffee, and when making cakes, sauces and custards? 

Most margarine is entirely plant based but did you know you can get plant based butter? It looks and tastes like butter and has the same consistency as butter making it ideal for making pastry, cakes and crumbles.

Swop to plant based yogurts – including extra thick Greek style yogurt – cream and ice creams. With the same mouthfeel and consistency of their dairy opposites, they taste really good, and with the options of different plant based ingredients such as coconut milk, almond milk or soya milk they offer a variety of taste experiences. I particularly like coconut based vanilla ice cream. 

Photo by Ann Nekr on Pexels.com

Sunday Reflection

8th August 2021, Proper 14: 1 Kings 19:4-8, Psalm 34:1-8, Ephesians 4:25-5:2John 6:35, 41-51

Elijah under a broom tree

I feel a lot of sympathy for Elijah. Prior to where we meet Elijah in today’s reading he has been extremely busy. Elijah lived during the reign of King Arab who is described as the king who did more evil than all the other kings before him. He was a king who definitely did not walk in their  ways of God! God has seen all that has happened and tells Elijah that, as a consequence, no rain nor even dew shall fall on the land. The land will be afflicted by a drought that will last for years. 

Pausing a moment it is worth reflecting that for decades, if not more, we residents of planet earth have increasingly mistreated and plundered the earth damaging both its climate, its ecosystems and and its most vulnerable creatures. We have not followed the ways of God. And now we are increasingly aware that our folly is causing problems that affect us directly – floods, heat waves, wars, covid etc. 

Back to Elijah. He follows God’s instructions as to how and where he will find sustenance, and sees at first hand the effect the delight has on the land and in its inhabitants. After three years of drought God sends Elijah to speak with Ahab (who is finally feeling the effects of the drought. Those who are rich and/or powerful usually find ways of minimising the inconveniences that cause others to suffer) and to reprimand him for all that he has done wrong. Like many business leaders and investors today, Ahab still believes that his model of life – worshipping the Baals and sacrificing children – is the only right one. So Elijah sets up a competition, challenging the priests of Baal to prove the efficacy of their gods. 

This must have taken great determination on Elijah’s part. He was just the one lone voice speaking out against the falseness of the Baals and their rule of life. God was certainly with him and strikes the winning shot – a fire bolt from heaven – on Elijah’s behalf, but yet it still must have been stressful to the point of exhaustion for Elijah. The single handed, Elijah destroys all the false prophets. And once again he challenges Ahab to repent. Ahab instead seeks guidance from his equally wicked wife, Jezebel, and somehow it is her cursing of Elijah, that breaks the camel’s back. Elijah fears for his life and flees into the wilderness.  

So we come to today’s episode. Elijah is ready to give up and die. Have you ever felt yourself to be at that point of exhaustion, of despair, of self doubt?  Elijah curls up under a broom tree – an evergreen bush which because of its deep roots and narrow leaves can survive in arid environments and provides a welcome place of shade for travellers. Having spoken out-loud his grievance, his desperation, he is finally able to sleep. Owning up to ourselves and to God about what troubles us is a good starting point. After he slept, God wakes Elijah and provides him with food and water. He eats and drinks and once more sleeps. God waits and then wakes him a second time, prompting him to eat and drink, so as to be ready for the next stage of his journey – his life. One rabbi has noted the similarity between ‘rothem’ the Hebrew for broom and ‘rachem’ Hebrew for compassion. God has compassion on Elijah. God knows that what he needs is sleep and food and only when  those needs have been satisfied does God suggest to Elijah that he journeys to God’s holy mountain of Horeb where the two will engage in a much deeper spiritual experience. 

So I think it can be for us. Being open and honest about how we feel, understanding when we need rest, accepting support especially physical comfort even when we feel spiritually drained. God is concerned for our total wellbeing, physical and spiritual, and often we have to satisfy the first before we can address the second.

Today’s Psalm aptly describes Elijah’s experiences. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ both physically and spiritually.

The passage from Ephesians is entitled in NRSV Rules for the New Life. Rules for a new life were certainly what Ahab and his people needed. I think they are also what we need for living a new climate friendly, all-inclusive people friendly, sustainable life. The passage reminds us that we are interconnected, and that the way we each act has repercussions for everyone, and further more affects our relationship with God. 

The reading from John’s gospel continues to explore the idea of Jesus as the bread of life. Believing in and following his ways, have both physical and spiritual benefits. Jesus feeds and heals people physically and spiritually. Jesus by his very nature is a two way conduit between earth and heaven, between God and human kind, between the present day and eternity. This is something the Jews, the hearers of Jesus’s message find hard to understand and accept. For them, he is just a local boy – a local who has become a popular crowd puller but nevertheless surely still just someone like them? Is there something about needing to be ready, to be open, to seeing God at work in our everyday environment? Perhaps of finding the spiritual in the physical and the physical in the spiritual? 

Feed us Lord God

with what we need,

both physical 

and spiritual. 

Amen.

Count Down

 Action 17: Join an environmental group – one that campaigns on climate issues, or sets out to protect the local environment, or conserves wildlife or plant life, or which supports vulnerable people who might otherwise be overwhelmed by the climate crisis. Do a bit of research and find one that appeals to you – either because of the opportunities it gives you to be involved, or because it safeguards something you hold dear, or is something that affects you. As individuals we can sometimes feel that our voice is not heard, our concerns not recognised or our efforts insignificant – but as part of a collection of voices, concerns and efforts, we can make a difference.

The Green Tau: issue 11

Calculating your individual carbon footprint

The ongoing global climate crisis arise because human  activities and lifestyles

are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a faster rate than this gas can be absorbed by the planet. The resulting increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere insulates the planet so that year on year average global temperatures are rising. This impact of human activity on the planet is termed our carbon foot print. The word conveys the idea that what we do each day is leaving a mark, a footprint, on the face of the earth. We can measure the carbon footprint of different activities eg cycling, driving a car, skiing or hiking. We can measure the carbon footprint of different products eg a book, a DVD, a litre of milk, a dozen eggs, a wooden jumper, or a pair of trainers. We can measure the carbon footprint of a household or a business, of a person living in a flat or medium sized estate agents, a supermarket or a hospital. We can compare the difference between the carbon footprint of a typical resident of Nepal and the typical resident of Norway. We can compare the difference between alternative modes of transport, alternative methods of farming, or between a range of land uses.

Here in the UK the average individual carbon footprint is 10.5 tonnes (WWF).

The Carbon Independent  and the Carbon Footprint websites both  offer a detailed on line footprint calculator which includes inputting the amount of electricity, gas, petrol etc that you use each year. 

https://www.carbonindependent.org/

https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

A less detailed calculator is offered by the World Wild Fund 

https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/region

but it does relate your carbon footprint to the target UK footprint vis a vis a linear reduction in per capita carbon emissions  to net zero by 2045. And that is one of the reasons for calculating our carbon footprint: to see how big it is currently and the to see how it can be reduced to a net zero target. 

The simplest way of reducing our carbon footprint is to look at individual aspects of our lifestyle and see how in practical terms we can reduce our carbon consumption. To some extent we will be limited by factors outside our control. For example if we choose to travel by train we cannot decide which railways lines are powered by electricity and which rely on diesel engines (although we can press Network Rail and our government to address this). If we shop at Waitrose, part of our food footprint is linked to the carbon emissions of Waitrose’s operations (Waitrose’s aim is that their entire operation should achieve net zero by 2035). On the other hand we can make positive choices to use businesses that are carbon neutral. For example, Kiss the Hippo’s coffee roasting business is carbon negative. 

Over the next few weeks I will add ideas and information about reducing our personal carbon footprint on the Eco Tips page.