Lobbying for peace is hard

Well, another Earth Day, and the Earth is getting warmer, so I guess it’s getting greener. Except for the places where it is getting hotter, then it gets browner. Kinda sandy brown, like a desert. And, by the way, the ice caps are melting. It definitely will get greener where it once was white.

You’ll see the usual exhortations of the 3-R’s: Recycle, reduce and reuse. But, will you really recycle that aluminum can in your hand? If you live in an apartment like me, you can’t recycle at all. Landlords don’t give out big blue bins. The city exempts businesses and most apartments; they use private garbage haulers who are not “encouraged” to recycle. That is the first thing that should change: give everyone the chance to recycle, or tax ’em (since they tax the environment, and our future).

The other two “Rs,” reduce and reuse, are not so well understood. They’re not advertised since it goes against our consumer society. We should reduce our consumption of goods (stop buying stuff) and reuse what we already have, instead of buying more stuff.

For example, I buy lots of clothes through second-hand stores and some garage sales (I make sure they are clean). I now have enough clothes to outfit a small village in Kandahar. Sometimes I get the urge just to buy more instead of sending them to a laundry (I am a bachelor, after all). But my environmental self says “stop buying.” I am sure you have the same problem: instead of fixing, cleaning, or doing without, you shop.

This year, churches are pushing for a greener world. There is something in the Bible about being “good stewards” as opposed to the scorched-earth policy of expecting “Armageddon so why worry.” See below for more that you can do yourself or through your congregation.

Rockford Urban Ministries (for which I work) is hosting this Earth Day program “Making the County Greener” which will focus on what can be done to fight global warming on the local level, in the home, at work, and even in church!

Thursday, April 26, starting at 7 p.m. at Cherry Valley United Methodist Church, 112 S. Cherry St., in the heart of Cherry Valley.

Bob Arevalo will give suggestions for making the church “greener” with environmental ideas; the Rev. Nancy Rethford (she is the new and exciting pastor at Cherry Valley UMC) will speak to the religious convictions of supporting the environment. And Blackhawk Sierra Club member Ron Fiet will show an annotated version of Cool Cities which was reviewed last month here in my column. Call me at 815-964-7111 for more information.

By the way, Bob Arevalo is chairman of the Green Sanctuary committee at the Unitarian Church, and he sent along some suggestions.

Five things that any church can do:

First, the congregation and the board must acknowledge the importance of good environmental and ecological practices and resolve to do something about it.

Second, form a church committee committed to lessening the church’s “footprint” on the earth (that’s a hiker’s term for not leaving any trash on the trail).

Third, do an environmental audit of the practices of the church to see where improvements can be made. And then, do them! Like recycling your paper, installing environmental lighting and utilities, and putting some plants in that big parking lot!

Fourth, become involved in community initiatives, such as the Green Communities Coalition, a faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing about awareness of and improvement in the environmental practices in our community.

Fifth, realize that we humans are only part of an interdependent web, and that we must take care of all creatures of the earth.

The program is, of course, free and open to the public. Have a happy and environmental time on Earth.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

from the April 25-May 1, 2007, issue

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