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Going zero-waste for Lent

Alice Foddy  |  06 February 2019

Thinking about what you might do to get closer to God this Lent? Perhaps consider something that will get you closer to creation, too.

Lent is my favourite time of year. I love the feeling I get from fasting and strengthening my connection to God. In the past I have fasted from chocolate, Facebook, Milo; lots of things that I didn’t need in my life. But last year I decided to fast from an attitude that I had and a way of living.

I went zero-waste. It’s a term that has been thrown around a lot lately. In essence, living a zero-waste lifestyle means finding alternatives to throwing things into landfill.

I made the decision that for 40 days, I wasn’t going to throw anything into my bin. I didn’t succeed 100%, but that was ok. I was driven by the fact that landfill waste produces green-house gasses, and plastic is polluting the environment.

I felt a responsibility to do something. Pope Francis talks at length in Laudato Si’ about the ‘throwaway culture’ and that was what I wanted to fast from in my way of living.

I researched and wrote a list of 40 things that I was going to do to change my way of being. When I reached Lent, I found that every day I was finding two or three more ways that I could reduce waste, so 40 quickly turned into over 100! And zero waste turned into being a minimalist, a DIYer, a plastic-free lifestylist, a fair-trade buyer and an op-shopper!

My zero-waste lifestyle is not perfect. I still have days where I have exhausted all my creativity and I must throw things away. On average though, my weekly rubbish bin is the size of a mango.

The one thing that I treasure about the experience more than anything, is the closer connection that I have to God and his creation. Living zero-waste informs every decision that I make during the day. And when I’m unsure, talking to God always helps.

Making decisions about what to do has in some ways become easier and other ways become harder. For example, I always say no to single-use plastics (straws, plates etc.). But when doing something like buying a present for someone, I think about who made this? Where did it come from? What is it made from? Does it come in some sort of packaging? Can I make this myself? How will I wrap this?

To give inspiration for Lent, here is some environmental fasting inspiration.

1. Reduce – Fasting from things

Try buying only what you need, nothing more. Meal planning is a great way to reduce waste. I always go to the shops with a list to reduce my impulse buying.

I find that this allows me to focus on family and friends not things.

2. Refill – Fast from big supermarkets

Find ways to refill containers and bags in your local area. Make/find some reusable fresh produce bags and find places that you can bring your own containers. Some bulk food stores stock sauces, spices, washing liquids and washing powders. Check out the local markets for fresh produce.

3. Recycle – Fast from just throwing things away into the ‘normal bin’

Research how to recycle paper, tin and glass the best you can. Think creatively about how you can recycle anything else.

4. Rot – Fast from throwing away food scraps, they are so useful

Try composting and using the compost to grow your own veggies. This is a great one with the kids, because they learn about how food is grown, they get enjoyment in seeing things grow and they can learn responsibility.

 

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