Ricki, Esther, Katelyn, and Wendy, SP Staff in Vancouver, share about their communal practice during Lent to produce zero waste for a more compassionate and thoughtful life together in community.
This year for Lent, our house decided to practice zero-waste living, or purchasing plastic-free. Single-use disposable plastics wreak havoc on our ecosystems and vulnerable creatures of the land and sea. Many negative consequences of our plastic consumption disproportionately affect the poor. For a long while, our household has held the conviction that this was not only heartbreaking to God, but also that it is in conflict with the mandate that Creator God gave us to steward God's Creation well. Yet we couldn't imagine life without plastic.
“Justice is not convenient. It never was, and it never will be. But we have to practice it, and God is calling us to practice it in community.”
After brainstorming ways to fast during Lent in such a way that would deepen our dependence on Jesus, we felt compelled to pursue a zero waste lifestyle that would help us “loosen the chains of injustice,” the type of fast described in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 58. What emerged was an outburst of creativity, a forming practice that embraced saying no to fear and awkwardness as we pursued living plastic-free.
One of my roommates started to make her own cosmetics, since most cosmetics we use involve plastic packaging. Another roommate engaged her creative expression through making her own clothing. We had many conversations and built new relationships with our grocers, who willingly obliged to foregoing plastic bags and selling us items in the reusable containers we brought from home. We were not able to eat certain foods, namely most ethnic-specific foods that are not made locally, since we were unable to find sources that did not use plastic packaging. Though the experience felt very much like a fast from plastic consumption, the fruit of our fast was an increased ability to live a life of conviction in our everyday choices that reflected our commitment to justice and responsible environmental stewardship.
We also realized the gift that is community. We inspire each other daily and have gathered a toolbox of knowledge that will empower our efforts to live a life liberated from single use plastics. It takes practice. Even though the practice may be difficult or awkward at first, the reality is that living justly is never easy or convenient. The more we practice, the easier it gets.