Leading a sustainable life

Doing our part in God’s world means that every action counts

November 23, 2011 | Young Voices
Kaylin Epp | Special to Young Voices

“And God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

Do you think we humans have overdone it? Looking around, it’s easy to see how we’re disrespecting God by they way our culture is damaging our environment, but it’s just too easy to continue the way we live and not make the changes to “do our part” to fix the damage.

I have to admit that I have been guilty of having this mindset; however, for a class assignment at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, we were instructed to take action to lead more environmentally sustainable lives. After some research, I found three main things to change in my own household that will make a big difference for the environment in the long term while treating this beautiful planet that God has given to us with courtesy:

• Paper usage

I did some research and learned that it takes about 324 litres of water to produce 200 pieces of standard-sized computer paper and that 115 billion sheets of paper are used every year for personal computers.

I found this a little hard to digest, but I assumed that the recycling we do in my house was good enough to make up for what damage paper does. I learned, however, that it takes 10,800 pieces of recycled paper to save just one tree, and yet only a quarter of Canada’s waste paper and paper products are recycled. Clearly, just recycling is not enough!

Genesis 21:33 states: “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshipped the Lord, the Eternal God.” Why do we cut down all of these amazing gifts that God has given to us for our own wasteful purposes?

• Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs

This particular change in the home is probably one of the most advertised, both for saving money and for the environment, but research I did before making the switch really enlightened me to the difference in costs and for the environment.

Regular incandescent bulbs work by heating a wire inside the bulb, which shines bright white, so most of their energy is used to make heat. However, CFL bulbs create a gas that makes ultraviolet light, instead of heat, so they use up to 75 percent less energy. In our own home, one CFL bulb will save us $46.40 over its lifetime.

• Phantom energy

I’d never really thought about “phantom energy” before. It is the term for the energy that appliances use even when they are turned off—simply because they are still plugged in. Around the house we started unplugging our CD player, power adapters and chargers, the kettle and toaster, and as many other things as we could that had remotes, clocks or little red lights, so they were no longer wasting electricity. We changed this because phantom energy is responsible for about 10 percent of any given home’s electricity use.

“The Lord God put the man in the Garden of Eden. He put him there to work its ground and to take care of it,” we read in Genesis 2:15. However, humans as a species have had a little trouble following God’s purpose for us, especially recently. We’ve done damage to this planet and this needs to be reversed. It takes individuals, people like me and you, to make a difference. Every little bit counts in the long term.

Kaylin Epp is a Grade 12 student at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ont.

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