Monday, February 11, 2008

Carbon Fast for Lent

You may have already seen this elsewhere, but the Church of England is suggesting to its faithful this Lent to fast from the things that are contributing to global warming in our world. It certainly is something to think about. What struck me in particular is how often our Lenten practices are so individual. This is one that really encourages us to be mindful of the global community and our effect on everyone:

The Church of England is urging people to cut down on carbon, rather than chocolate, for Lent this year.

The 40-day plan lists simple energy-saving actions that can lead towards a lighter carbon footprint, including snubbing plastic bags, giving the dishwasher a day off, insulating the hot-water tank and checking the house for drafts.

Jones said: "Traditionally people have given up things for Lent. This year we are inviting people to join us in a carbon fast. It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching."

Last year, the Vatican also hosted a conference on climate change, where Pope Benedict urged bishops, scientists and politicians to "respect creation" while "focusing on the needs of sustainable development".

Here's how it works:

Day one (Ash Wednesday.): Remove one light bulb and live without it for the next 40 days.

Day two: Check your house for draughts with a ribbon or feather. If it flutters, buy a draught excluder.

Day three: Tread lightly – whether that's by foot, by bike, on to a bus or on the gas as you drive. Find a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when you travel today.

Day four: Are you recycling everything possible? Really – everything? Look into it today.

Day five: Can you talk about your Carbon Fast at church today? Encourage others to join in.

Day six: Turn your central heating thermostat down by one degree.

Day seven: Say au revoir to standby. Check that all electrical equipment is switched off when not in use. The TV alone will save a hefty 20kg of carbon dioxide per year.

Day eight: Unplug your mobile phone charger: it uses electricity even when it's not charging.

Day nine: Climate change isn't a distant threat – it's affecting poor communities now. Pray for those who help vulnerable communities adapt to the changing weather.

Day 10: Give your dishwasher a day off or promote it to a Grade A energy efficient appliance.

Day 11: Use local shops or farmers' markets instead of driving to out-of-town shopping parks. They will thank you; supermarkets won't notice your absence.

Day 12: Tell politicians to take action on climate change today.

Day 13: Put the heat on your electricity or gas suppliers and ask them if they have a green plan. Make the switch and feel cosy.

Day 14: Take a shower instead of a bath: you'll heat less water.

Day 15: Snub plastic bags. Get into the habit of taking your rucksack to the supermarket or go retro with a trolley. Ask your supermarket to remove unnecessary packaging.

Day 16: Switch off lights as you leave the room.

Day 17: Only fill your kettle with as much water as you need.

Day 18: Cut the air miles. Don't consume any food that you know has been imported by plane.

Day 19: Grace Maglasey and her husband Andrew struggle to grow enough food because their village in Malawi is caught in a cycle of floods and droughts. Join in with Grace's prayer today: "We pray that those of us who farm should harvest a lot of food so that this year we will not have hunger. In the name of Jesus, Amen."

Day 20: Compost. Put the nutrients from food waste back into the soil – not into a methane-emitting landfill.

Day 21: Only run your washing machine when you have a full load.

Day 22: Find one way to save paper today: re-use an old envelope or print double-sided.

Day 23: Turn the taps off. In one day a hot, dripping tap could fill a bath.

Day 24: Counsel your local council. Thank them for their recycling facilities but ask them if they could provide any more.

Day 25: Who works hardest in the house? Mum? Dad? No, the fridge. It's churning away 24/7. Treat it to a good de-icing to make sure it's running efficiently.

Day 26: "Love does no harm to its neighbour" Romans 13:10. But while our lifestyles consume more and more energy, our poorer neighbours are suffering. Reflect on ways to love our neighbours in our increasingly connected world.

Day 27: Pressure a car owner to check their tyre pressures. Low tyre pressure means high fuel consumption.

Day 28: Do a home energy check at You could save up to £250 a year on bills.

Day 29: Run your washing machine at 30 degrees. This uses 40% less electricity than running at 40 degrees.

Day 30: Find out a new fact about the impact of climate change today. Amaze your friends.

Day 31: Fit aluminium foil behind your radiator – allowing you to turn the radiator down and save £10 a year per radiator.

Day 32: Any old iron? If they're on their last legs replace old electrical appliances with energy-efficient models. They could save a third of the energy.

Day 33: Have an embrace-the-silence Sunday. Turn off everything. No TV, no radio, no ringtones, no cars. It'll be good for the soul.

Day 34: Tell the Mailing Preference Service that you want to stop junk mail. Call 0845 7034599 or visit

Day 35: Put an insulation jacket on your hot-water tank. If everyone does, we'll cut enough carbon dioxide to fill 148,000 hot-air balloons.

Day 36: Re-use an item you would have thrown away – such as a jam jar, an envelope or an ice-cream container.

Day 37: Put a lid on it. That's pans when cooking; and use a kettle to boil water.

Day 38: Draw the curtains to keep the heat in.

Day 39: Could your church be greener? Talk to your church leaders.

Day 40: Replace your missing bulb with an energy-saving lightbulb. Over its lifetime, you will save 60kg of carbon dioxide per year and up to £60. Make a personal pledge to serve others by pursuing a more sustainable way of life.

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