Action on climate change always felt too big a task for me to make any difference. I was 14 when I connected the dots that my small actions do make a difference. My school showed us a video on sweatshops which made me realise that my demand – my money – was encouraging these atrocities. I was struck by the human and environmental exploitation that went on; I felt a strong conviction (which I later recognised was the Holy Spirit) to change my shopping habits.
As the years passed, I became more conscious of my actions and purchases, and how they were connected to those across the world. I started questioning where the things I was buying came from and what impact that was having on the environment and the people involved. Clothes, shoes, food, technology; they all have a wider impact than how they “improve” my life.
On my gap year I travelled across four continents and was hit hard by the differences between and even within rich and poor countries. My heart started to break when I lived in Bolivia for two months and I became disgusted with my own consumerist culture, which contrasted so starkly to the Bolivian culture of living more lightly and simply. I was strongly reminded that we humans don’t own this planet; we are stewards that God placed here to look after it. Somehow along the way we have sadly taken stewardship to mean “take what I want and not care about the consequences for others or nature”.
It was also while in Bolivia that I discovered more about the impacts of the meat and dairy industry: Greenhouse gas emissions, water wastage, and inefficiency of land use. Upon returning to the UK, I trialled going plant-based and so far, my vegan trial has lasted five and a half years! I love cooking, baking and creating delicious vegan food to share with others(If you would like some inspiration or recipes, follow my Instagram @thisplantbasedwonderland).
I studied Mechanical Engineering at University and geared every project I could towards environmental issues (and finding solutions); every society committee I was on also knew that I would be ensuring consideration of the environment in everything we did. It was also at University that I started to connect my passion for environmental justice with my faith.
The first instruction God gives humans in the Bible is to steward earth and to have dominion over it. Let’s look at how God had dominion before humans were on earth: He brought life forward and all He made was good. The two greatest commandments, says Jesus, are to love God and love your neighbour. Taking care of creation is an instruction from God, and surely being obedient is part of loving God. Climate change affects our global neighbours, so doing what we can to reduce our environmental impact is surely loving our (global) neighbours. Unfortunately, we fallen humans have taken dominion to mean we can cause damage and destruction to nature and other people if there is some benefit to us. The arrogance, wilful ignorance and lack of respect of the West to the rest of the world through history and in the present fills me with anger, lament, and a desire to make it right.
Gradually, I have learnt more about the environmental impacts of different aspects of my life and have made changes, with plenty more to challenge me ahead. I am also on a journey of growing in confidence in talking about the environment with those closest to me. I have been considering the environment in my daily walk for more than 11 years now and many people have said that I’ve influenced them in one way or another. I don’t think I’m particularly vocal about my lifestyle, but people see me making choices to put care for God’s creation into my purchases and habits.
Known in some of my social circles as the “eco girl”, people ask me where to start, or where they can go after they’ve made the “big changes”. One step to encourage planet-positive lifestyle changes could be taking part in the Climate Stewards’ Carbon Fast for Lent. This is a fast for everyone: you may have never thought that faith and climate change were linked, or you may have been making lifestyle choices with the environment in mind for 50+ years!
The Carbon Fast for Lent has a different theme for each week, with easy, medium and harder challenges. You will be sent an email ahead of each week with an intro to the topic, the challenges, a prayer, and some useful links to resources and information you may find helpful. You could sign up with your prayer group, home group, friends or colleagues. Embarking on this fast together means you can discuss how you are finding the challenges and encourage one another along the way. See here for more info and to sign up!
This ‘meet the community’ article was written by Alice Corrie for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and lifestyle’. Alice has a masters in Mechanical Engineering and is the Technical and Communications Officer at Climate Stewards. Alice is an active member at her church, and passionate about intergenerational community, helping with children’s groups, the student group, welcome team and prayer team.
Climate Stewards is a sister organisation of A Rocha UK, and member of the worldwide A Rocha family.