God made the world, and it was good. You don’t need to read far into the Bible to get that picture. In fact, it’s literally the first chapter. Sin changed everything and that means that the world is as broken as the people who live in it but humans still have the task of looking after this world. Our job as those who have authority over the creation isn’t to dominate it, but to cultivate it.
Yet we’re not leading the charge when it comes to taking care of the world. We so often make choices of convenience rather than care and we take a back seat and let others take care of it. But those who so often have a passion for taking care of the world aren’t doing it because God made it and it’s good, their reason is that this is the only world we have and we should care about it – leave it better than we entered it. That reason, of course, is a noble one, and I’m not at all complaining about those who are caring for the world… I’m confused about why we Christians aren’t doing more, when we have a reason that comes from God.
Part of me thinks that perhaps our issue isn’t a lack of knowledge of our task. Instead it seems to be that we simply don’t know what it is that we’re meant to be doing, and if we can’t do everything, we get paralysed and do nothing instead. It’s something we all do. Incremental change, however, makes life a little bit easier. We need to make taking care of God’s world a little bit less overwhelming and a little more simple.
Here’s four ways my household have been taking care of God’s world just that little bit better, and also giving ourselves a bit more joy.
Pretty Coffee Cups
We purchased two Frank Green reusable coffee cups, in colours that make us smile. Mine is pink and navy and James’ is green and orange. They’re customisable and delightful. They’re Australian made and sustainably made. By using them we’re not using takeaway coffee cups, which is turns out cannot be recycled in most of Australia (what even!). It’s easy enough, even if it does involve carrying something extra and cleaning something else when you do the dishes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate the colours too and it’ll make your heart a little happier knowing that it’s good for God’s world too. Keep Cups are another option for this, too. There are lots of options.
We live in an apartment. Compost is something that I didn’t think we could manage here, but as I started planting a little balcony garden I wondered if perhaps compost was possible to do in a compact way, just like the garden was. If you’ve got more space, you can skip this paragraph, but if you’re like me, read on. There’s a form of composting called Bokashi that utilises fermentation. It’s done in smaller buckets and the fermentation process doesn’t smell like regular compost. Ours lives in a corner of the kitchen, takes up very little space, and doesn’t have a bad smell at all. Every week I drain it of some of the liquid via the spout at the bottom, and that’s diluted with some water and put into my watering can to feed the balcony garden some fertilizer. It’s compact and good for the garden! The one complication is that every now and then we need to bury some waste or put it in a bigger compost bin, and that’ll likely happen in church friend’s compost bins. The time spent on it is about two minutes extra in the kitchen, and the process is sort of fun (for me, who is fascinated by those sorts of things). If you look up Compost Revolution, you’ll find that local councils are subsidising the cost of all compost bins too!
Bendy Bananas & Giant Sweet Potatoes
We do our grocery shops mostly at Harris Farm these days. I’ll jump on a bus and meet James after work and we’ll go get what we need to there, mostly from the Imperfect Picks section. It’s all the stuff that doesn’t meet cosmetic standards and would otherwise be thrown out, but it also costs a fraction of the price. We can fill a basket for about $20 rather than $50, and it’s all fresh and good produce. Things like bananas and sweet potatos are always there but every now and then there’s surprises like pears and tomatoes and… well, you get the idea. It’s cheaper and it’s good for God’s world.
Think Before You Buy
Online shopping is a vice of mine. Except, the cheap online shops are the ones with the most stock to look through when you’re bored and the prices mean you can buy them. The amount of clothing we throw out that goes to landfill is obscene and most of it is a result of these random purchases we make either online or in store when we’re not really looking for anything. I’ve shifted my mindset with shopping to be that I go in with purpose, and get what I need, and then leave. If I’m shopping to relax, it’s op shops and normally I’m buying something weird and wonderful to refashion into something I’d actually wear. If you just ask yourself, “do I really need this?” and then follow that up with, “did anyone suffer in the creation of this garment?”, you’ll buy a lot less. Less will go to landfill, less fast fashion companies will get your cash, and over time you’ll find that you stop seeking satisfaction and solace in clothes shopping (trust me, it’s possible!).
That’s my four tips. There’s more that we’re doing – like growing things rather than buying them and recycling soft plastics and DIYing whatever we can – but those four are good places to begin.
You don’t need to become a hippie to care about the world. You don’t need to sacrifice other priorities to make caring for God’s world a priority. You just need to start taking small steps to integrate better practices into your household, and you’ll find that at last, your practice begins to match up with your theology. That’s how it’s meant to work, after all.
Get started. You won’t regret it. Neither will the world.