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A lukewarm movement?

Once again, it’s that time of year when people dress in green and get covered in dirt while planting trees—Spring. It’s the perfect planting season, as flowers are finally coming in to bloom after a grueling month of thunderstorms. And one important term that is thrown around during this time of year is “environmentalism.” This is where the marginally smaller movements of “simple living,” “green living,” “conservation” and the phrase “carbon footprint” come from. In our country, people are constantly preaching that we should be “eco-friendly” to save the environment. People tend to get really fired up in response to compelling arguments and commit to reducing their energy consumption. But when it gets right down to it, they get home and either have no idea where to start or just don’t have time to figure out how to reduce their energy use. I have no problem with people who commit to environmentalism and follow through. Nor do I have a problem with people who say flat-out that they aren’t going to try to save the environment. At least they’re being honest!

There is a parable in Matthew 21 about two sons. Their father asks them to go work in his vineyard; one says he will not go, but does, and one says he will go but doesn’t. Jesus asks his followers which son will enter the kingdom of God, and they answer that the first son will because he repented and was obedient. I think that environmentalism is much like this—those who say they will not be environmentally-friendly but are anyway, even through small actions, get more points in my book than those who claim to be environmentally-friendly so that people think better of them.

I’ll admit that I often struggle with being environmentally-friendly because I don’t want to have to actively think about how much energy I’m using. Here at university, however, I think that being “environment-friendly” is a lot easier than we tend to imagine. But sometimes, when we boast of environmentally-friendly efforts, things need to be put into perspective. All of our choices have both positive and negative consequences. Oftentimes, I’ll send an email instead of a letter in order to conserve paper. Of course, sending an email happens to be much faster. I also choose to walk to classes. But I do this because I don’t actually own a car. It’s so easy to say, “I send emails instead of letters to save paper” or “I walk instead of driving,” but we need to examine our motivations.

God gave us the Earth to work and care for, and for that reason, I propose that every day needs to be an “earth day.” There are many great movements and clubs that people can get involved in to help save our environment. Maintaining the environment will help us in the long run. It’s the little things that count—recycling, walking instead of driving, and planting a tree or flower. But it’s better to do these things because you truly want to than to do them because everyone else seems to be “fired up” about environmentalism. 

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