Shrove Tuesday is here, the last day before Lent begins. Whatever your usual custom for Lent, a carbon fast may be something to consider as a Lenten discipline.
Observing a carbon fast involves reducing use of energy that adds carbon to the atmosphere. It includes reduction of both our electricity consumption and our carbon footprint for transportation. A carbon fast can be as simple as turning off the lights when no one is using a room, turning the thermostat down a couple of degrees, and running dishwashers and washing machines only when there is a full load of dishes or laundry. Taking the time to replace traditional light bulbs with CFL bulbs will help to cut carbon emissions. An easy habit to establish that will reduce energy consumption is to unplug computers, phone chargers, and office equipment at the end of the day when they are not in use.
Carpooling, using public transportation (for folks who have that alternative), eliminating unnecessary trips or consolidating errands, walking or biking instead of driving are all ways to make a significant difference in our carbon footprints. Simply keeping tires at the proper pressure may make a big difference; turning off the engine instead of letting the car idle when waiting is an easy way to get better mileage.
Whatever specific ways we find to reduce our contribution to the carbon levels in the atmosphere, we will be simplifying our lives. When we manage to live more simply, we open up more space for God in our lives.
If you like a daily task to help with a Lenten discipline, there are calendars available with a different carbon-reducing idea each day. One is from Washington Interfaith Power and Light ; another is from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington .