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« Another week, another storm ... | Main | Inmates are people, too. »
Friday
Feb072014

It's not that hard

All of us find some things hard to understand. Calculus, for instance, was difficult for me. I did fine until we got to imaginary numbers, and I couldn't imagine them.

Other things are much simpler in concept, but frustrating to understand in other ways.

At the top of my list is this: why do so many people refuse to recycle?

At our house, we mulch food scraps and inevitably have more recylables than garbage -- so much so that the recycling crate routinely overflowed into a big plastic tub, and even that was not enough. For 63 cents more per month, we were able to swap out the crate for a rolling bin.

And yet, when I roll the garbage and recycling bins to the street (no curbs in my neighborhood), I'm always dismayed to note that less than half of the homes in our subdivision recycle at all: trash cans bulge with garbage bags, cardboard, wine bottles, and cans of every description, much of which could be recycled but will instead add more layers to the landfill.

At school, I often go behind students to retrieve cans or bottles tossed into trash cans and put them into the recycling.

Environmental responsibility is not a new thing or a hard concept to grasp. On the one hand, it's common sense that we should care for the earth and harbor its resources if we have any consideration for the world our grandchildren will inherit.

On the other hand, believers have a biblical imperative to be good stewards of the earth. 

In the first creation story (Gen. 1:1-2:4a), God blessed humankind and said "Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!" And then God gave all the world into the humans’ care.

In the second creation story (Gen. 2:4b-25), Yahweh put humans in the garden “to care for and maintain it.”

We should note that these are very “green” verses. The word often translated “subdue” in 1:28 is radah, and it does in fact speak of having dominion, but always in a way that is respectful and responsible and nurturing, rather than domineering and exploitive.

And, when 2:15 says the man was put in the garden to “care for and maintain it,” the words are abad and shamar. The word abad can mean “to work,” but also “to serve.” Humans were created to work the land, but to work for its good, and not destructively. The word shamar means “to keep,” or “to guard from harm,” or “to preserve.” Humans are not only the crowning glory of God’s creation, but called to be partners with God in caring for the good earth on which we live. The creation stories not only tell us about our place in the good world God has created, but also about our purpose.

Recycling is one simple cog in the wheel of responsible stewardship of the earth. It requires a very small effort, and for those who don't have city services, there may be a small cost for collection. That's all.

Adding mountains of recyclable materials to landfills is like slapping the earth in the face -- and sending a message that we'd rather trash God's good creation than to preserve it.

When you roll your garbage out to the street, what sort of message are you sending?

Reader Comments (3)

Another question: Why do so many people throw their trash on our roads and highways? As stewards of God's earth we are called to partner in sustaining its beauty, not pollute it with our fast food wrappers. Sometimes I think sloth is the greatest of the seven deadly sins.

Feb 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDon

Thanks, Tony, for the reminder that caring for creation is paert of our Christian duty. My teenage son Jacob has taught us much about recycling and all things "green."

Grace and peace,

Feb 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames Garrison

Our city provides the green wheeled carts (looks like yours) for yard waste and blue ones for recycling, free, and empties them up on alternating weeks at no charge. To get garbage pickup (weekly) or a second wheeled garbage cart costs money! Perhaps your jurisdiction should consider changing the fee schedule. The yard waste is composted and the compost used by the city.

Feb 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Cooper

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