Wednesday, March 05, 2014

eco-lent: week 1

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. As a Quaker, perhaps it's not completely "kosher" to practice Lent, and I discussed my thoughts on that way back in 2006, here. For those of you who weren't raised in a liturgical tradition and/or who don't know much about Lent, it's a time to prepare our lives and hearts for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Generally, this is about "giving something up," a sign of our participation with God in the sacrifice of dying on the cross.

My F/friend Beth over at the "Five Kids is a Lot of Kids" blog is practicing "getting rid of crap" this Lent, spending 15 minutes each day focusing on one small area of her house or project she can complete in order to get rid of the junk in her house...which all of us totally know can accumulate if we have ANY kids, or if we ARE kids...or if we USED TO BE least if you're ME. She inspired me to practice Lent a bit more intentionally this year, and while I definitely need to do the 15 minutes a day of getting rid of crap, what I've decided to do for my personal practice is to do a weekly eco-challenge.

As I said in my recent post, and probably most of my posts from the last year (of which there apparently weren't many), I've been feeling led to try to live more sustainably: to live in such a way that the Earth can replenish itself each year, that I'm not taking more than my share, and that I practice the Quaker value of simplicity. But this is seriously HARD! For one thing, it's hard to get rid of my sense of entitlement that everything I want should be available to me at all times. This has never been true for anyone else in the whole history of the world before the last couple generations. Why should it be true for us? What is it doing to us psychologically, socially and ecologically to live in this way?

So for Lent, I'm attempting to take a few tiny steps towards more sustainability, toward taking care of this Earth that is under our charge and in which we participate.

I'm getting ready to co-teach a class this summer entitled "Poverty & Restorative Earthkeeping" with my colleague Dan Brunner. I'm really excited about this course! One of the books we're considering using is from the Northwest Earth Institute called "A World of Health: Connecting People, Place & Planet." It's a workbook you could use with a small group in your meeting or congregation, if you want, and it's also suitable for undergrad or seminary courses.

At any rate, this book suggests weekly eco-challenges: ways you can attempt to practice living more healthily for the sake of yourself, others and the planet. The first week's eco-challenge is to try not to eat foods packaged in plastic that contains BPA (bisphenol A). They suggest either planning one meal that is BPA-free, one day's worth of food, or even attempting the whole week without foods packaged in plastic containing BPA. Why? BPA is:
"a chemical that mimics estrogen and is raising concern among consumers and many scientists for its links to a host of health issues: prostate, breast and testicular cancer; lower sperm counts; obesity; aggression in girls; reproductive and neurological defects; cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes." NWEI "A World of Health," 2010, p. 26
This week I'm going to be more aware of the foods I eat and whether they are packaged in plastic. If they are, I'll look at the labels to see if they say whether or not they contain BPA.

If you're interested in learning more about this workbook, here's a helpful video from NWEI:


Anonymous said...

Hi Cherice! I'm not sure, but my experience is that when they do contain BPA, they don't say anything. It's not an ingredient they're putting directly into the food, but the plastic, so they're probably not required to say it. My understanding (from learning about this in baby bottles, years ago) is that it's in the hard plastics. If they are BPA-free, they most likely WILL say that on the package. It's plastics that are #7 or #5, the last that I knew. And most people probably have plastic at home and would store their food in it, it's not that it would come from the store in that way. These eco-challenges are interesting, I want to hear what they are as they come up! Oh, and as you're getting rid of stuff, keep the lookout for my arm warmer, thanks. :) -LL

Cherice Bock said...

Cool, LL--good to know, I knew about baby bottles but usually when people talk about that it makes it sound like it's just bad for babies. The article in this NWEI book makes it sound like it's bad for all of us. I'm sure babies are at higher risk, of course. I'll have to find out whether there is BPA in plastic bags and such.