Lent has a very special meaning to me, it is a representation of the sacrifice that Christ made so I can be forgiven and given life. It is also a time to make my own sacrifice…less intense obviously. I truly evaluate my life and they way I live, and where I can make sacrifices. The most beautiful thing about lent is how it can be very individualistic in the sense of what people sacrifice is personal to them. There is a communal sense though too; church services, prayer, meditations, etc. The uniqueness of lent is amazing.
The sacrifices that I make are something more than 40 days for me. It is more than sweets, cussing, or materialistic things. If this is a sacrifice that you make, and it is how you becoming closer to God during lent that is also amazing, there is no wrong way to do lent. There is not a list of approved things to sacrifice because it is so unique and personal. Lent just like your relationship as a whole with God (no matter your faith or name you have for a higher power) is personal, only you and God get to define not another person or group of people.
My relationship with God and lent is something life-changing. Over the past few years I have really looked at my behavior and lifestyle. I think about the way I live and act to see where there are ways I can live more like Christ through sacrifice. I also evaluate my beliefs and see if my actions align with those. In past years I gave up my selfishness of time by volunteering at least three times a week for 40 days. I don’t volunteer as much as I did during lent however, ever since then I volunteer more than I did. I value service and helping others, but I wasn’t acting on it so I kicked it up a notch. The year after that I gave up my greed of money and materialistic things. I donated everyday for 40 days. This was by donating to the charity jars at stores/restaurants, giving to the offering tray at church, twice I went grocery shopping and gave the whole cart to the breadbasket that was asking for donations outside Dillons and Hy-Vee. Ever since then I give much more than I used to because I realized this is not my money or things to give these are God’s, all that I have is through God and because of God. I can’t take food, money, or other material possessions with me when I die. I have what I need and anything extra is for others. So now we come to this year.
It was a week before lent began and I still didn’t know what my personal sacrifice was going to be. I was on Facebook scrolling through, this is what I could’ve giving up, when I came across zero waste lifestyle. Here is a link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/TheRecyclingStore.org/videos/vb.830227210415772/976738525764639/?type=2&theater
I chose to do this because as a environmentalist and advocate for living green I really looked at how I was living. I follow the four R’s reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (compost, although I wasn’t doing this as much as I should) which means everything else went to the trash. I am really no different than the average person of producing about 4.5lbs of trash per day. I did my research on ways to reduce this number to zero. Here is a picture of how I did it, and how much I had.
The top two is how I reduced my waste when shopping I used cotton bags that I purchased for bulk items before transferring them to jars. I purchased and used reusable bags for my produce; they are breathable and washable. I obviously continued to use reusable grocery bags when shopping. The only trash I produced…receipts. The bottom two are pictures of said receipts the left just them in a pile and the second them lining the hallway in my house. Receipts ARE NOT recyclable, I’ll say it again for the people in the back, receipts ARE NOT recyclable. Two things that are commonly recycled, but aren’t actually are frozen produce bags and receipts. Produce bags have added preservatives and other chemicals that assist with the preservation process. Most of today’s receipts contain this chemical called “Bisphenol A” or more commonly known as BPA. It is that little chemical that is a bit of a hot button as it has some adverse health effects. When BPA is recycled the chemical does not go away or deconstructed to be “safe.” Don’t recycle this because it is then mixed with the other papers in recycled paper products. So what am I to do with all these receipts…art! Still working it out, but I will figure it out.
The sacrifice for giving up waste is convenience. I really had to evaluate when shopping and eating out what containers are recyclable, what trash was I potentially going to produce and what to do with it. Unfortunately, not everyone is up on the times of no receipts or email receipts. It was important to note if when I denied a receipt that one wasn’t getting printed, frequently they automatically print one and if you don’t want it they throw it away for you. When I grocery shop I really just buy produce and bulk items (grains, beans, nuts, dried fruits, etc.), on occasion I might buy something in a jar or tub that I can reuse or recycle. I brought reusable mugs to coffee shops if I needed it to go. I took all paper trash with me (napkins, Stevia packets, receipts); I recycled the packets and composted the napkins. I air dry my hands or take the paper towel in public when washing my hands. I took everything I used with me from restaurants, coffee shops, stores, etc. I switched to bulk soap for laundry, body wash, dish wash…because soap is just soap. I switched to Tom’s of Maine deodorant as their’s is the only one that is fully recyclable as it is a plastic #5. Also, I signed up for http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/ they are a recycling program that recycle things some facilities won’t.
Even though lent in the liturgical year is over I continue to live a zero waste lifestyle. In the 40 days of lent I kept 180lbs of trash out of landfills and incinerators. If I live a zero waste lifestyle for the rest of my life I will keep over 100,000lbs of trash out of landfills.
I am an environmentalist and green living advocate because of the love I have for God and God’s great creation…you, me, and the earth beneath.
If you have questions about living zero waste or would like to try it for a bit let me know.
Peace and Love,