"This Lent let's give ocean creatures a better chance to renew themselves, free of our trash!" –Church of England’s Diocese of London
Each year, in the span of repentant days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, millions of Christians around the world fast or give up something they enjoy. Top on the list are things like chocolate, alcohol, and social media. But this year, the Church of England has taken a cue from Sir David Attenborough and has set its sights on a different kind of pleasure: The convenience of single-use plastics.
In a statement, the Diocese of London notes that "David Attenborough has recently brought to everyone's attention the hideous damage being caused by our throwaway society to life in the oceans – where so much of our waste eventually ends up.”And indeed, with 300 million tons of plastic created annually, and half of that for items that are used just once, it’s no wonder that so much of it (eight tons a minute, ugh) ends up in the ocean. Attenborough and BBC's Blue Planet II series have done much to spread the word; how wonderful to see the Church amplifying it further.
Ruth Knight, the Church's environmental policy officer, says, "The Lent challenge is about raising our awareness of how much we rely on single-use plastics and challenging ourselves to see where we can reduce that use."
"It ties in closely with our calling as Christians to care for God's creation," she adds.
With its 25 million members worldwide, the Church has a tremendous platform; and along with the call to action, they are providing help that sounds downright TreeHugger-ish. The BBC reports that, “Worshippers have been offered tips to cut plastic use for each day up to Easter, such as choosing a fountain pen over a plastic ballpoint pen and buying music electronically rather than on CD.” Other tips include carrying non-plastic cutlery for eating on the go and using your own toiletries in hotels rather than using the small containers offered to guests.
Part of the Church’s broader program advocating stewardship for the environment, Shrinking the Footprint, the Lent plastic challenge is a fabulous way to raise awareness about one of the more pressing issues the planet is facing. And knowing what a profound effect being accountable for one's personal plastic use can have, we're guessing that there will be fewer plastic Easter eggs in England this year.
For more, go to the Lent Challenge page.