The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries
A few months ago, I was talking to a member of Denver's City Council about one of my pet peeves -- the dumping of multiple varieties of telephone books at our homes and businesses. (See an earlier Notes on that theme, Extortion as Good Business.)
The council member took my comments and complaints seriously, and he provided a well-grounded answer about why the city can't prohibit this absurd and wasteful practice. At the end of the discussion, he commented, "At least we now accept phone books in the curbside recycling bins."
I am glad that, every time those 10+ pounds of yellow pages are unloaded at our doors, we can now recycle them without having to find a specialized and short-term collection center. But my conversation with the council member reminds me that recycling is the very last of the options to be considered by a responsible and ecological citizen.
For many years, we've heard of the "3 Rs" -- reduce, reuse, recycle. Some folk have added a fourth R to the start of the list -- refuse. Recently, I've used two more Rs of a different character -- restore and resist -- to expand our consciousness beyond consumer goods. These six words provide concise and solid guidance for our shopping, and for our community behavior.
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The four Rs that are at the core of this list are best seen as a sequence, and not as a collection of independent options. The most important and fruitful options should be considered first, and then the other steps taken as needed.
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Many churches use recycling projects as a helpful way to introduce ecological stewardship to their members. That can be a wonderful starting point, and a visible expression of commitment.
But if that single "R" is seen as an adequate expression of environmental concern and responsibility, then the message is not complete. Recycling is what we do after we have refused, reduced and reused. It is an activity that parallels our efforts to resist and restore.
If your church doesn't have an active recycling program, then that's an essential step to take. And then, once your members have started to become conscious of their responsibility for "stuff," be sure to educate and advocate for the other five Rs, too.
Eco-Justice Ministries * 400 S Williams St, Denver, CO 80209 * 303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org * E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org