Did you know there’s a giant island of trash floating around in between Hawaii and California? They say it’s about 1.6 million square kilometers large! Others say it is now twice the size of Texas! Being from the East Coast this was new information for me when I learned this on a recent vacation to Hawaii, a state that has banned plastic bags. When you go to the store in Hawaii you need to have something with you to carry the items you purchase or be prepared to purchase paper bags. I like this. There are also garbage patches floating around closer to me in the Caribbean as well that are over two miles long. These are many, not just the two I’ve mentioned. I have felt a holy guilt over the way we live in North America. We are absolutely trashy! We buy things that are even packaged inside of packaging!
Over the years I’ve taken a few steps to reduce the carbon footprint of our family. Why? I read a few commands God gave us humans at the very beginning. Here’s just three:
- Genesis 1:26 & 28 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” We are to have dominion over the earth, or rule it. We are to take care of it and protect it from harm.
- We have a command in Numbers 35 to not pollute the land: Numbers 35:33 “You shall not pollute the land in which you live.”
- Defiling the land is called an abomination in Jeremiah 2:7: “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.”
Here’s Ten simple changes we made as a family to reduce the trash we produce:
- We use cloth napkins that we launder every week with our towels.
- We use cleaning cloths in our kitchen and bathrooms that we launder and reuse instead of buying disposable cleaning items.
- We use toothbrushes made out of bamboo. We love these and my dentist says they are doing just as good of a job as those trashy plastic ones do. You’ll have to buy these online if you want to find them.
- We use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.
- I’ve vowed this year not to purchase any new clothing for myself. We used to purchase like 20 items of clothing per year and currently the average woman purchases about 68 items of clothing per year and many clothes that get donated end up in trash heaps around our communities.
- We do not buy water in plastic disposable bottles. We filter water in our home and use a reusable container for water that we can wash and use for years.
- We use coffee pods made from paper instead of plastic. Look closely! You can find it, and even better if it has a symbol on it stating it’s fair trade.
- We buy refillable spray bottles that we refill with vinegar and water to clean and sanitize our home. Vinegar is an amazing sanitizer, odor eliminator and general all-purpose cleaner that has never disappointed! Using a reusable container keeps us from throwing away numerous bottles of retail cleaners. Of course we recycle our vinegar containers. This amounts to a lot less trash.
- I try to reduce the paper that comes to the house by choosing to get my bills electronically. I don’t need a paper bill or a paper check in my hand to get my bills paid.
- When at a restaurant eat there instead of getting take out that requires your food to be placed in plastic containers or even worse, Styrofoam! Eat on dishes that get washed and if you’re from North Carolina, refuse the Styrofoam to go cup, or bring something from home you can use to take your drink with you. You can even refuse that plastic straw and when someone asks you why you can say you’re working to save the turtles today. We have reusable straws in our home for when we make a smoothie or just want to carry one with us to wherever we’re headed.
Genesis 2:15 ESV “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
I am certain if everyone makes even small changes, collectively these are big changes! What we do and how we live matters. I don’t have to be trashy. For anyone curious, here’s a map containing that giant garbage patch: (Father forgive us!)