Christians Take on Carbon Fast for Lent

image-archbishop-of-yorkAmong other eco-conscious Church leaders, the Archbishop of York has gone vegan and  fair-trade for the duration of Lent.

Lent, the pre-Easter season of reflection and self-examination, began this year on February 22nd and finishes on Saturday, April 3rd.

Believing Christians set aside time for prayer and religious acts. One  Lenten tradition is strengthening self-discipline by giving up  luxuries like meat, alcohol, or chocolate.  Considering chocolate’s dark origins, going fair-trade like the Archbishop of York is a truly spiritual thing to do.

And recently, churches are encouraging their congregations to take on an innovative Lenten sacrifice. It’s called the Carbon Fast.

Congregants are encouraged to take simple, carbon-reducing steps like eating less meat. (Our vegewarian recipes, like this risotto, give some good ideas for meatless meals.) Or packing groceries in reuseable bags instead of using that eco-menace, plastic bags. Walking, bicycling, or riding a bus rather than driving. You get the idea. These churches provide weekly calendars with suggestions and tips for carbon reduction, each paired to a spiritual goal.

An intriguing example is,  “Remember your baptism and the power of water. Conserve water: leave a bucket near the kitchen sink and water your plants with grey water.”

Carbon Fast started in England in 2007. The  Tearfund organization began promoting the idea in 2008  and has spread the environmental word among churches internationally. This year communities in Canada, the Netherlands, India, Hong Kong, Australia, and Brazil are observing  Carbon Fast.

Fully aware that individual acts must eventually lead to popular support for green legislation, Tearfund still calculates that the Carbon Fast’s actions, taken over the whole year, might save more than 7 tons of CO2 per person. This article in The Center for American Progress reports that  6000 people committed to last year’s Carbon Fast. With promotion through social media plus adaily carbon-lowering tip in congregant’s email inboxes, there should be even more this year. That sounds powerful.
Tomorrow’s interfaith convention on climate change and sustainable energy in Jerusalem promises to bring forward the power of religion in effecting eco-consciousness. With the Carbon Fast’s example, we can say, so far, so good. Let’s see what other religious leaders propose, to change their people’s behavior and help to save the planet.
More about faith-based green efforts on Green Prophet:
Photo of Archbishop of York via The Archbishop of York
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