5 Simple Steps to Sustainability: As Individuals
By Laura Young
Tearfund COP26 Advocacy Events Coordinator, member of the Baptist Union of Scotland Public Theology Group, and also famously known on social media as environmental influencer, ‘LessWasteLaura’
COP26, the United Nations climate summit, begins on October 31st. This is the biggest gathering of world leaders the UK has ever seen, and the most important climate summit to date. Over 25,000 delegates from around the world will land in Glasgow, and it is estimated that up to 100,000 individuals will engage with the conference in one way or another.
As Christians it is critical that we not only engage with this world event, but also look deeply into our own lives to see where we can live more sustainably in accordance with God’s instruction for us to take care of each part of creation. Not just for creation care, but also to tackle the injustice that is the climate crisis. It affects all of us, but it’s people in poverty who are suffering first and worst. As Christian Climate Scientist, Katharine Hayhoe said:
“Climate change is not only an environmental issue. Climate change is a poverty issue. It’s a hunger issue. It’s an issue of inequality and injustice. It’s a human issue. And that’s why we care.”
Governments and businesses have a large part to play in tackling climate change – but we can all use our everyday actions to love our neighbours and build a better, fairer world. As followers of Jesus, through whom all things were made, let’s be at the forefront of protecting and restoring his creation. The climate crisis is a huge and urgent challenge that requires all of us to play our part. Let’s keep standing together in prayer and action to see a breakthrough in the climate crisis.
5 Simple (but Powerful) Steps…
The question is, what would it look like to walk in step with Christ in responding to the injustice of climate change? If you’d like to take new steps to build a better, fairer world this year, here are five simple but powerful ways you can make a positive impact:
- Reduce food waste; ⅓ of food globally is wasted and if this was a country it would be the 3rd largest emitted globally. Try to reduce your food waste with meal planning, zero waste recipes, proper storage, and of course composting scraps at the end.
- Eating our way to sustainability; food plays a large part in our lives, and perhaps an even bigger role in the lead-up to Christmas: from chocolate selection boxes and mince pies to the all-important main roast event. However, like anything that’s precious, food comes at a cost with huge amounts of energy and resources going into producing and transporting it. Why not explore new local, seasonal and plant-based food options? Consider a less carbon-intensive diet by reducing your meat intake and buying local responsibly farmed produce.
- Less rubbish; 80% of Scotland’s carbon footprint comes from the goods, products, and services we often use just once and throw away. Tackling your single-use plastic intake has a positive impact on our planet reducing waste and carbon emissions. Try to have a set of cutlery, reusable shopping bag, and reusable coffee cup with you when out and about as a start!
- Secondhand; from fashion to furniture using things which have already been created helps reduce the amount of new stuff we have to produce. Now there are ways of doing this online as well like marketplaces and local community sharing pages.
- Travelling green; before the pandemic, one third of the carbon emissions of the average UK household came from transport. Could you adopt some new cycling or walking habits even as winter approaches?
And finally, go deeper; it may not feel like it, but choosing to learn more about the climate crisis can be a powerful way to get involved in climate action. Why not dive into some resources around the climate crisis, creation care, or justice?
There are a huge variety of resources out there; a favourite of mine is the nine part short film series with Katharine Hayhoe and Tearfund called ‘Christianity and Climate Change’. You could also set aside time each day to pray for those living in poverty who are being hit the hardest by the climate crisis, theming your prayers around what you’re learning.