For Earth Day: Simple Rules for Living

How can I do my part in protecting the environment? It might be helpful to think about our local context—everyday habits and practices for self, family or congregation—and ask, “Is it helpful?” Whether we know it or not, we may already be following simple rules regarding:

  • How much we drive
  • How long we shower
  • What how much empty space we are willing to heat in our house

and so forth. We might benefit from a few simple rules.

Dottie Yunger, a marine biologist and pastor, explains the benefit of rules.  She describes two weeks she spent with a group of American college students on Calabash Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize.[1] Calabash Caye lies in the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world.

The island was small (two miles by two miles) yet the group quickly discovered their appetite was large—especially for water to take showers. Yet the water came from rain barrels, and once it was out, there could be no more showers until the boat arrived from the mainland to take them home. In other ways they needed to respect the limits of their island home. So they came up with a few simple rules:

Rules From Calabash Caye

  1. Check your pants for scorpions before putting them on in the morning.
  2. Catch only the fish you want to eat, the day you want to eat it because refrigeration is in short supply.
  3. Turn off porch lights at night during sea turtle breeding season so that the sea turtle hatchlings would not be distracted and disoriented by the artificial light.
  4. Take short showers, just once a day.

For reflection: In our local context, what everyday habits and practices for self, family or congregation would be most helpful? What limits must we respect? What rules might we live by?

[1]Dottie Yunger, “Climate Justice: Earth Consequences,” in Pat Watkins, Ed., Climate Justice: A Call To Hope and Action (New York: United Methodist Women, 2016), 45-55.

Photo: Kconners, Morguefile license.

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