Friday, February 10, 2012

A Carbon Fast for Lent

Lent is just around the corner. People who follow the spiritual discipline of fasting on something for Lent might consider a carbon fast this year.

A Lenten carbon fast encourages us to reduce our carbon footprints and walk more lightly on God’s earth. When we reduce our own carbon footprints, we give up some small degree of comfort or convenience to benefit the people who generally suffer first and worst from environmental degradation: the poorest people in the world, who often rely on subsistence agriculture or fishing, or who live in places especially vulnerable to pollution and extreme weather events. Along with doing something for others, we benefit from living more simply, opening up space for God in our lives.

A carbon fast can take the form of giving up or taking on one habit that results in using less electricity or other fuel, or of following a calendar that suggests a different activity for each day during Lent.

For those wanting a different activity each day, the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast  from the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC will send daily e-mail messages with an activity for each day.  Earth Ministry offers an online Lenten calendar with activities for each day.

Here are five examples of single habits to consider changing for the season:

1. Turn down thermostats 2 degrees from usual settings.
2. Turn off lights and screens when no one is in a room.
3. Turn off computers, printers, and their powerstrips at night.
4. If you usually drive to work, school, or to do errands that are within a safe and reasonable walking distance, walk instead of driving.
5. Unplug chargers for phones and other electronic devices when they aren’t in use.