Friday, August 23, 2013

7QT (Vol. 53): Stewardship Challenge

"Finish your food. There are kids starving in Africa." The message is that you should be thankful for the food you have, but I'm confident that forcing yourself to eat more than you want is not the path to real gratitude. Tied up in that admonition also is a vague feeling that your food consumption affects the food supply in areas of famine. In reality, the world easily produces enough food to feed everyone; distribution is the problem. Cleaning your plate isn't a moral issue.

African sunset

I'm not in any way advocating wasting food, though. This is why food storage containers exist, even tiny ones that hold about 10 grapes. Being a good steward of your resources (incluing food) is a moral issue. I can't count how many times I have put two bites of food in the fridge for Peter to eat later. Before I get too comfortable on this high horse, though, let me share some ways where I fail spectacularly.

We all know there is a finite supply of fossil fuel. We also know that carbon emissions are harmful to the environment. But I still accept plastic now and then when I forget my reusable bags. (Yes, plastic uses fossil fuels.) Whenever I go out, I check to make sure I have my phone, keys, and wallet. I can just add "bag" to that list.

We drive much more than we need. We drive somewhere almost every evening, even though we have no meetings or activities currently. I waste fuel to tack another 5 minutes onto the drive home so the kids will fall asleep. One month, we made a point to limit outings because we had made two trips and were concerned about our travel budget. We easily stayed within our limits, which was a wake-up call about how much we needlessly spend on gas. Staying home even two nights each week makes a huge difference for the planet and our pocketbooks.

I try not to think about how much electricity I use for this laptop. I mean, it's a netbook, so it's tiny and fairly efficient, but it's also primarily a toy. Sometimes I do useful things (planning & research for homeschooling, emailing, blogging, daily Mass readings), but often I turn it on just to see if I have any new Facebook notifications or emails. By "often" I mean about 10x/day. I think I'd survive if I went on, say, 3x/day. Checking in after breakfast, during naps, and once the kids are asleep would keep me in touch while not wasting electricity. It would also help me be more present with my kids. (I don't have a smartphone, so if I'm not on here, I'm not online at all.)

Finally, water. Living up here where water is cheap and plentiful, it is hard to remember to conserve. I run the tap to get cold water because I don't want to drink it quite as cold as it is in the fridge. I stay in the shower a few minutes after I'm clean. I leave the faucet on while I wash my hands (I'm getting better about this one). I dump the remainder of a glass of water because it got warm or I wasn't that thirsty. If I stop being the problem, I become the solution.

This isn't meant to be a confessional, but rather a motivator. Consider it in the same light as people who share about removing clutter from closets or losing weight. I get public accountability; you might get ideas or motivation. Will you take the challenge? What's one way you can step up your stewardship of this planet of ours?

7 Quick Takes is hosted by Conversion Diary

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