Practical Steps

Guest ColumnistCommunity News

by Rich Dixon

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 24:1).  Our daily habits provide endless opportunities to acknowledge this central truth of the Christian life and to obey God’s commandment to steward His creation (Gen 1:28). With hundreds of seemingly insignificant choices we, for better or worse, leave our mark on the world around us.

Living out this call can seem overwhelming at times, and our individual contributions might seem to have limited impact. But refining our habits allows us to promote justice in a variety of ways.

Eliminating our dependency upon single-use plastics is not only one of the best ways to begin reducing waste and better stewarding our resources, it also saves money we can then give to the poor. Here are just a few ideas:

Thirsty? Turn on the tap. Buy a durable bottle to fill daily.  Some bottled water comes from sources that have a negative impact on those living near its production. There is waste at every stage of production and delivery. Plus, it usually isn’t any cleaner that what comes out of your tap.

Buy in bulk. The more efficient packaging reduces waste.

Get cloth bags and take them everywhere.  Keep reusable bags handy by your door, and if you have plastic bags, return them to grocery store recycling bins. Forgot your bags? Practice saying, I don’t need a bag, at the checkout line.

Forget small baggies.  Even kid lunches can be baggie-free. Use plastic ware, and wash and use the plastic containers that come with groceries.

Skip the kitchen trash bag. Hose the can out regularly instead. 

There is no way around it: life without single-use plastic creates a little more work. But just a little elbow grease goes a long way toward caring for God’s creation.

And there is even more we can do:

Collect green waste / food scraps.  It saves space in landfills. It also saves water by going easy on the garbage disposal. Use your green waste trash can for green waste. Keep your food scraps, compost them, and create a very happy garden!

Enjoy your morning cup of coffee, but support a living wage.  Buying coffee marked “Fair Trade” and labeled “sustainably grown” or “shade grown” improves the lot of those who grow and pick the beans.

Purchase fair-trade chocolate to provide poor harvesters with a living wage.

Look for toilet paper and paper towels with “post consumer” content.  Look for paper products created from sustainably harvested lumber.

Drop paper magazine subscriptions. They are responsible for a lot of air and water pollution because they are produced with “virgin” paper instead of recycled. Happily, most magazines post their content online for free or with a subscription.

Install compact fluorescents and turn off lights when you leave the room.

Pull out plugs as they use energy even when the electrical item is “off”. 

The reason for these efforts is always the greatness of the glory of God and our faithful witness as the Church. Connect to the Author of Life! Hike, or just get outdoors, to enjoy and admire His creation.Cultivate a Sabbath-rest that focuses on pursuing a God-centered life. Pray about purchasing habits; assesswants versus needs. If you have money left over from energy savings or reduced purchasing, give it to the poor. Seek out a prayer partner as you pursue growth in this and other areas.

We are on this journey together. Get in touch with A Rocha for recommended readings or to jump right in and serve locally. Visit us online at