Why Sustainable?

I don’t know that I’ve taken the time to explain why I think it’s important for me to live a life that honors the planet so I thought I’d take a (long) moment and reflect on my learning/growing experience over the last year or so.

When I was young, I had a great 3rd Grade teacher that taught me about the environment. We learned a lot about ecosystems, endangered species, the three ‘R’s’ (Renew, Recycle, Reuse) etc. I think that is where it all began for me. As I grew up, this interest lay dormant. I partially think it didn’t surface because it wasn’t ‘cool’ and we all know how hard we strive for coolness in middle school and high school. Well, this began to change as I hit college. The degree I choose (Landscape Architecture) had a strong sustainable aspect to it. This began to awaken the interests I had for the environment as a child, but in college, it was coupled with a strong faith. I think everyone knows about the poor record of the church and the environment (conservative Christian = republican = DRILL DRILL DRILL!) and I felt pretty disheartened about the internal conflict I had with my desire to ‘save the environment’ and what I saw being modeled for me in the faith community.

I sometimes listen to podcasts at work and on one particular day I was listening to the Mars Hill Church podcast, where Rob Bell turned the pulpit over to Matthew Sleeth. Matthew Sleeth is an environmentalist. A CHRISTIAN environmentalist. Not only that, but he’s sane, well spoken and educated (sorry, I’m a bit . . . pessimistic about Christians in general). After listening to his 3 or 4 podcasts, I felt strongly convicted of living a selfish life. I had the American attitude of convenience, disposibility and entitlement. Why should I have thought about the actions of my life negatively impacting someone else’s life? I should do ‘whatever makes me happy’ (which I now believe is absolutely bull****). I bought Sleeth’s book, Serve God, Save the Planet. It sounds ridiculous, but this book helped to change my heart and the way I was living my life.

Sleeth’s approach to this issue is not one of gloom and doom. He gently brings to light issues and consequences that you may not have considered in your life and suggests why that behavior may need to be changed. He also competantly reveals the spiritual side of living a life that protects the planet; he called my attention to many actions I was participating in that would ultimately affect the ‘least of these’ (Matthew 25:35-40).

Utimately, I believe that it is important to live a sustainable life because the way you live affects other people (whether you choose to acknowledge it or not), and most often it affects those that don’t have the financial ability to take care of themselves. I don’t believe that a selfish life is a fulfilling life. The definition of sustainability is meeting the needs of today’s generation without compromising the needs of the generations of the future. In other words, caring about people, even if they are future people. If you believe Christ, then you have been called to live a life that loves others the way you love yourself. I believe that you can show people love by showing the planet love and in an age that is disillusioned with the Christ followers of the world (and rightly so), love can still speak above those preconceptions.

I know there is a lot of gloom and doom out there (especially about the destruction of our environment), and often I feel crippled by the lack of care/motivation and the depth of depravity that exists in our world today. But I believe that by living with less, living with concern and love I can begin to show love to people in a way that is tangible and real, which is the way I believe I should live my life.

And that’s why I pursue living a life that is ‘green’. How’s that for a post that puts my heart on my sleeve? πŸ™‚


  1. Marie Larkin
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    All very true.

  2. Posted October 16, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    I agree! After all, we are called to take care of the planet we were entrusted with. Unfortunately, we’re not very good at it, but I really believe every little bit counts. I appreciate all of the green posts you do, too; I’m learning a lot from them!

  3. cooperella
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    good post Beth. and from what I can see on the outside, you are doing an amazing job at setting an example. we may not be able to change others, but we can change ourselves & by doing that we influence all around us. You’re a great influence! πŸ™‚

  4. AJ
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I could not agree more. As I’ve told you before, you make me a greener person πŸ™‚

  5. Rachael Becker
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 8:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm…interesting post. Thanks for sharing it. It’s something I’ll have to think about some more. Do you still own that book you were talking about?

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] Posted by Elizabeth under Sustainability | Tags: blessed earth, Sustainability |   My last post was featured over at Blessed Earth today! Woo-hoo! […]

  2. […] Read more of Elizabeth’s blog as she continues her journey! […]

  3. […] second time last year was reevaluating what being ‘green’ and being a Christian looked like and how closely the two are interlinked once you begin studying what the Bible says […]

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