Counting on … day 397 

4th December 2022

What does your money do? 

I love the advertising over the  Oxfam shop’s front. Here is a shop where your money will grow vegetables, fill classrooms, drill wells, empowers women and fights poverty – wow! With a little thought money can do some amazingly positive things. 

Counting on … day 359

25th October 2022

Professor Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion recommends caution when clothing companies claim green credentials for their garments. “The most powerful thing we can do “ she told Positive News, “is not to run out to the shops,  but just to really want what we’ve already got..”  

This sentiment applies not just to clothes but all the things we surround ourselves with.

Prayers for creation 

14th October 2022

Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and not we are ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

You Lord, are the source of all good things: 

We praise you.

You call us to tend and care for your creation: 

May we strive to do your will.

You have made us as brothers and sisters with all that lives: 

May we live together in peace.

A reading: Deuteronomy 11: 11-17 

But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—  then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.  I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. 

We do not presume to walk on this earth,

O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much
as to gather up the leftover grains 

nor glean the fruits fallen from your trees –
But you are the same Lord,
whose property is always to have mercy:
Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,
so to live where you plant us, 

that we may work in harmony with nature 

and  share your rich harvest with all. 

Amen 

Thank you God for trees and fruit, herbs and grasses

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness, 

we have cut down forests and burnt the scrub, 

when we have prioritised monoculture and marginalised diversity, 

when we have drained rivers and aquifers 

favouring cash crops over native plants. 

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Thank you God for birds of the air, 

the creatures of the land and the fish of the sea.

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness, 

we have promoted our own livestock and made refugees of  the native wildlife, 

when we enlarged  our own living space and made other creatures homeless.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Thank you God for soil and water and the fresh air we breathe. 

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness 

we take from the soil but do not give back, 

when we pollute the waters with waste we do not want, 

when we fill the air with an excess of greenhouse gases.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Thank you God for our brothers and sisters, our kith and kin

Forgive us when through greed and thoughtlessness 

we rob them of their livelihoods, 

when we divert their wealth into our pockets, 

when we ignore their pleas for help.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Lord God, as you made us in your image, that we might live with you

and, as your Son took on our form that he might live among us, 

you have shown us how to live.

Remake our hearts and minds

and so restore our way of living.

Amen.

 Counting on … day 345

10th October 2022

Green Christian advocates ‘Joy in Enough’. Enough is about what is sustainable for the planet ; joy is about pleasure and fun and contentment. Christmas is a couple of months away but now may be a good time to plan for a joyously sustainable Christmas. Talk to family and friends what this might look like for Christmas is a time of coming together. 

Counting on … day 292 

28th August 2022

For vegans – and others – choose sustainable seaweed! 

Seaweed can be eaten as a food in its own right and as an additive in food and non-products (such as toothpaste). It can also be used in making fertilisers, plastic alternatives and in animal food. 98% of seaweed thus consumed is grown commercially – and it is an expanding sector. Japan is the largest producer of seaweed. Here in the UK most seaweed is harvested from the wild – albeit commercially. If you want to give seaweed a try, check out companies such as the Cornish Seaweed Company https://www.cornishseaweed.co.uk/ or Mara Seaweed https://maraseaweed.com/

 Counting on …day 291

27th August 2022

For fish eaters, choosing sustainable fish will help preserve fish stocks and biodiversity in the oceans. The Marine Stewardship Council has a certification scheme with a blue badge indicating which fish products come from sustainable sources. This scheme covers fresh, frozen and tinned fish. Check when eating out whether the fish on the menu is sustainable.

https://www.msc.org/what-you-can-do/10-reasons-to-choose-the-blue-fish-label

Laudate Si: discussion notes 3

“…humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction… Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything.” Section 113

  1. Let’s wonder. What is the purpose and meaning of creation? 

2. Is creation God’s gift to us to do with it what ever we want? 

Has it been given to us so that we can benefit from it, in return for tending it?

Has it been given to us so that we can continue to work with God as co-creators of a still evolving creation?

3. Is creation a stockpile of resources from which we can pick and choose individual bits with no regard for the rest?

If we harvest all the sand eels to make fish oils, do we have a responsibility for puffins and other creatures that rely on sand eels for food?

If we chop down the forest to create grazing land, do we have a responsibility for plants and animals that will die because the land will dry out?

If we replace jungle with palm oil plantations, do we have a responsibility to re-home the orang-utans who lived there?

4. In an ideal world, governments would collaborate and legislate to protect the environment, and to prevent such abuse and misuse of resources. As we do not live in such a world, what can we as individuals and as groups do to protect the environment?

5. Pope Francis reminds us, section 115, that not only has God given us the earth, God has also given us the gift of our fellow human beings. Do we treat them any better than the way we treat rest of creation? 

Can you think of examples of humans been treated as commodities, or as a means to an end?

6. If we fail to treat all human beings with respect and care, are we surprised that humans struggle to care for the environment?

7. Conversely can we properly care for the environment, if we do not also care for the humans who inhabit the same space? 

Can we protect African elephants unless we also pay attention to the needs of the local farmers and businesses who occupy the same land? Can we protect mangroves from clearance for shrimp fisheries unless we provide alternative employment opportunities? Can we rewild grouse moors unless we provide alternative employment for local people?

8. Pope Francis, in section 124, reminds us that God created the first humans not to do nothing, but to tend and till the earth, ie to work. Their work was to assist what grew in the garden and to benefit each other’s well being – and presumably that of the animals too. To work gainfully is a Godly calling – a vocation – for humanity. 

In what ways do you feel that your life fulfils that vocation?

9. “Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God.” Section 127

Do all people have access to such opportunities? Do all people find in their work the means of glorifying God? What prevents people experiencing work in these ways?

Could it equally be that case that some people become so overwhelmed by work, that these benefits are lost?

10. We are learning to understand the concept of sustainable development, and of the sustainable use of resources. Should we also be thinking in terms of sustainable employment?

What might that look like? How might it give a sense of meaning and purpose to life?

11. How might we measure this? In terms of a living wage, of job satisfaction, of the degree of autonomy in making decisions, quality of the working environment, levels of team work and co working?

12. How might we as residents of a comfortable suburb, enable or promote sustainable employment for a greater number of people? 

What questions or reassurances might we seek from employers and producers? How might we use our purchasing power to good effect?

Thank you God

for giving us a vocation 

to be tillers and carers of the earth.

Remind us that it is a vocation we share with 

all that lives on this planet

so that we may be attentive to the needs and gifts of all.

Amen

 Prayers for Creation 

Friday 29th July 2022

God hates cheating in the marketplace; rigged scales are an outrage. Proverbs 20:23 (The Message)

You Lord, are the source of all good things: 

We praise you.

You call us to tend and care for your creation: 

May we strive to do your will.

You have made us as brothers and sisters with all that lives: 

May we live together in peace.

A reading from Leviticus 25:3 – 7 

For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound labourers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.

God, who planted the Garden of Eden 

with good things to eat, and caused the earth to bring forth green shoots:

We praise you.

God, who caused rivers to flow, 

who sent rains in due season,  and filled the seas with life:

We praise you.

God, who modelled Adam to be a gardener, 

who modelled the creatures in diverse kinds, each as helpers and Eve as co- partner:

We praise you. 

God, you created a world 

which can offer all that is needed, and give each being, plant and creature, a place to belong:

We praise you.

And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel”. Amos 7:8

Generous God,

we have overworked the soil and drained it of its nutrients; 

we have covered vast swathes in tarmac, and have covered our gardens with plastic lawns.

We consume more than we give back, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God,

we have decimated the forests, and grubbed up hedgerows, 

we have wiped out diversity and favoured monocultures.

We have taken and not put back, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

we have poisoned the waterways and flooded  them with sewage, 

we have drained lakes and rivers to water our crops.

We have ignored what happens downstream, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

We have dredged the seas and overfished the oceans. 

We have over consumed fossil fuels, melting icecaps and inundating islands.

We have ignored the science, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

we hunted some creatures to extinction, and pushed others to the margins;

we have destroyed their homes, and taken away their food.

We have despised them as co-habitants, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy.

Generous God, 

we have demonised our fellow humans, and used them as slaves; 

we have taken their wealth and left them to starve.

We have spent more on war than on peace, we have not measured true to your plumb-line:

Lord have mercy. 

Open our eyes to see the error of our ways. 

Open our hearts to overflow with love.

Open our hands to be generous in sharing. 

May we act justly and  love mercy and  walk humbly with you our God.

Amen. 

The Green Tau: issue 45

Earth Overshoot Day 28th July 2022

Leviticus 25 explains that the land should have a sabbath rest every seventh year. In that year no crops would be sown and the people would live off the surplus of previous years. Farmers over the millennia have learnt that you cannot constantly expect the land to keep on producing crops year on year without fail. The land either needs to lay fallow (rest), or it needs to be sown with a restorative crop such as nitrogen fixing beans or clover, or it needs the input of artificial fertilisers, so that it may recuperate its productivity. It is a lesson we are sometimes reluctant to heed. The Dust Bowl disaster of 1930s in the USA destroyed vast acres of farm land because farming practices did not maintain the fertility of the soil. An equivalent story can be told about the Aral Sea. This inland lake, once the fourth largest area of fresh water in the world,  has been reduced to nothing because more water has been extracted year on year – to irrigate local cotton crops – than the rate at which water flowing in fills the lake.

Ideally what we consume from the natural world – crops, timber, drinking water, clean air, energy – is balanced by the earth’s ability to regenerate. Prior to 1970 that was the case. Since then we have been using up the earth’s renewable resources at a rate faster than they are replenished. Scientists each year calculate that point  when we pass from credit to deficit. This is called Earth Overshoot Day. This year the predicted date is 28th July. Seven months into the year and we have already – globally – consumed as much as the earth can replenish in one year! 

Surely this state of affairs can not continue? What can we do about it and why aren’t we doing it? 

Since 1970, Earth Overshoot Day has been falling earlier and earlier each year. Only in 2020 did it reverse: the reduction in world wide consumption because of Covid gave the earth a three week reprieve. Consuming less has to be the answer which means consuming more carefully and more sustainably. If we could do that in 2020 whilst coping with a pandemic, surely we could do it every year? 

The Earth Overshoot website has details of various ways in which the global community could do this. https://www.overshootday.org/ Meantime we as individuals can make changes to our own lives  and  patterns of consumption. And we can ask or push for our churches, places of work, sports clubs, local authorities, museums, retailers, and government, to make similar reductions in consumption. We need change to happen at all levels.  

28th July is 2022’s Earth Overshoot Day at the global level. That date is the average  of each nation’s own Overshoot Day. These dates range from 20th December for Jamaica (ie Jamaica pretty much balances its books,  consuming only slightly more than it can regenerate in a year) to 10th February for Qatar. The UK’s Overshoot Day  was 19th May. We would need three United Kingdom’s to satisfy our current consumption levels, whereas in reality we rely on other countries to help make up the shortfall.  

Not only should we be addressing the conservation and safe use of resources here in the UK, we should also be offering  support to those other countries on whom we rely to ensure we don’t deplete their resources and rather enable them to develop economies that benefit their own ecosystems. 

Eco Tips: Stuff 

What does sustainability look like in daily life? I thought I would share my experiences.

Previous pages have looked at the use of heating and energy, food and travel for which it is generally easier to calculate one’s carbon footprint and assess the sustainability of alternative choices. Today I am going to reflect on the none food things I buy such as books, clothes, things for the house and garden. These all have a carbon footprint and have more or less sustainable credentials. Here are some of the ways I try to ensure that I use stuff sustainably.

*Not acquiring things that I don’t actually need. It is surprising how often we are tempted  – or encouraged by advertising – to buy things we don’t need. Do I really need it? Do I need to buy it now or could I wait and see if I still need it at a later date? Have I got something similar that will fulfil the same purpose?

* Research – find out what choices are available: which product is most sustainably, how long it will last and, if electrical, its energy efficiency. The internet is useful, as is Ethical Consumer which has both a web site and a magazine. When we needed a new printer, we bought a more expensive Epson model that instead of using disposable cartridges (which hardly last any time at all) has an economical  refill system  – and 8 months later we have yet to need to refill these. 

  • Buying second hand – or more endearingly, preloved – items allows existing resources to be reused  rather than consuming even more fresh resources. I buy clothes and books from charity shops with the plus of funding a worthwhile cause. Sometimes I can also find household items here too – such as a saucepan or a pestle and mortar – but then I do have to be patient as what a charity shop stocks is not predictable! I bought my mobile phone and iPad from Music Magpie – an online second hand site.  When I need a particular book I try web sites such as World of Books and Oxfam – I avoid Abe Books and The Book Depositary being subsidiaries of Amazon. If I buy new books, I use our local independent book shop. 

* Repairing rather than replacing. When something breaks, see if it can be repaired – either at home or via a specialist. Years ago, I bought a Globe Trotter suitcase because of their reputation for quality. When the handle broke, I was able to take it back and have a new one fitted. I frequently darn socks and T shirts, patch up tears, glue broken items in the kitchen, mend punctured tyres, takes shoes to the cobbler,  and buy spare parts from the manufacturer.

  • Up cycling – sometimes rather than buying, I can make what I need from something I already have. Eg pillow cases from worn sheets, plant pots from have cartons, a seed sprouted from a jam jar and a piece of muslin. Old inner tubes become garden ties, and shoe laces are reused as string. Old trousers become shorts, and trouser legs bags for root vegetables.
  • Making do with – enjoying! – what I have: I could buy a food processor but instead I use the knife and the ballon whisk I already have. We have an old kettle whose automatic switch no longer works but since the rest functions, we continue to use it. 

* Lending and borrowing: do I need to buy something if I am only  go to use it occasionally? As well as libraries for books and videos, there are libraries for things. I prefer to rent skis  knowing that they are going to be well used, as opposed to buying skis that would become obsolescent before they wore out.

* If I can, I look for options that will make a positive contribution to someone else: eg choosing a fair trade or organic option, supporting a local producer, buying from a B corp.

  • Packaging – I often make choices dependant on packaging, choosing not to buy something because it comes wrapt in plastic. For example buying a pencil I might choice the pencils sold loose over those pre-packed in plastic.
  • I prefer to spend money on doing rather than having: going to a cafe for a coffee and a cake rather than buying a magazine, going to the theatre rather than buying clothes, buying membership for a nature reserve (eg The Wetlands Centre) rather than cosmetics.