Not too long ago, I decided to become a better caregiver, if you want to call it that, of God’s creation. I wasn’t quite sure how to do this , but I figured there are millions of ways to be a preserver of the planet.
I’ve always been intrigued about agriculture, conservation and environmental science. Growing up, I loved helping out in my mother’s garden and in my neighbor’s small stable/chicken coop. We had a seasonal garden that flourished in the summer months, so spending time catering to the needs of the plants was a big interest of mines as a child. I always liked to tend to the garden and ensure it was growing. Daily I’d get dirty by maintaining the vibrant green leaves from harmful bugs, picking the fruits and vegetables regularly, and every now and then taste testing ripe items.
All these influences helped shape my outlook about a potential career in conservation science in college. Unfortunately, as I approached the end of my first semester of senior year in high school my aunt persuaded me that biology may not be the most profitable path, so instead I selected history and social work. The academic goal grew dim, but the flame was still alive. In college, I grew compost at least twice. I was still persuaded by continuing the tradition of a garden that I wanted to have natural soil from decomposed materials. I must say that the first attempt was more successful than the second.
Fast forward 4 years
A year or so ago, I bought a book about Christian community service projects. The book gave many examples of what Christians can do, small and large, to be light and salt of the earth. One of the ideas that caught my attention was cell phone recycling. I was highly intrigued by this , so I began doing more research on the issue.
Prior to doing research, Initially I thought the topic of “environmental injustice ” was just another way society has defined what “injustice” is on targeted vulnerable groups/communities. However, after doing my own research on the topic I became persuaded that things such as proper e-waste recycling was a major priority with serious implications for public health globally and in communities of color.
In brief, electronic waste or e-waste refers to thrown away or discarded electrical or electronic devices. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , about 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled. This means that a ton of consumers are regularly throwing away electronics in standard trash. This is extremely hazardous because eventually these devices can go into landfills and are responsible for toxic waste.
I decided to create an e-recycling program at my old church. I gave a small speech during Sunday announcements about the necessity of being salt and light on the environment, stewardship of God’s creation, and how we can save a life through our service. I painted the very real picture of children and families in impoverished countries and communities that live beside carcinogenic areas due to e-waste exposure, burning, and dumping.
Months went by and slowly but surely, the congregation started trickling in their used electronics that I would donate to the nearest recycling center. There were times when demand was so great my trunk was at max capacity. I received everything from old HD TV’s , kitchen appliances, phones, cable boxes, and DVRs. The members were just happy to see their used appliances, that were collecting dust or broken, being properly recycled. The demand was good and I felt like my church was doing an amazing act of protecting the environment.
I didn’t take a weight of how much e-waste I collected from my former congregation , but I did a lot of drop offs to the recycling center.
At the same time my church was in action, at my former job, the company didn’t have a paper recycling bin , so I began collecting all my coworkers used papers and making monthly runs to the recycling center.
Eventually the church slowed down with their supplies and it gradually stopped. Some months ago I saw lot of electronics such as chords and devices in my apartment garbage. I took as much out as I could. I didn’t care about getting dirty or filthy , but wanted to focus on getting as much as I could out. I couldn’t get the e-waste out because it was too deep in the trash bin, but I was thankful to have gotten some.
Overall, taking care of God’s creation is of the utmost importance because it helps fulfill caring for the least of these in society (Mat 25:40). Further, at the heart of our faith, we are called to be servants to others. We live in a interdependent world which means we are uniquely united in some way. Next time try to think “with what ultimately belongs to God, how can I best help others?” It can be money, time, talent, support, or anyway you see to advance God’s kingdom.