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 were millions of ways to be a preserver of the planet.
About 5 years 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.
After doing my investigation on the topic, I became persuaded that things such as proper e-waste recycling were 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 Do Something.Org, 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.
As a result of theis harsh statistic, I decided to create an e-recycling program at my old Protestant community.
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.
People seemed sold to the idea and I was happy about that!
Months went by and slowly but surely, the congregation started trickling in their used electronics that I would donate to the nearest city-sponsored recycling center.
There were times when demand was so great that 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.
Eventually, the church slowed down with their materials and it gradually stopped.
Now that I’m Catholic, I’m glad to be a part of a tradition that has long stood for pro-care for the environment. In fact, it’s a central belief in Catholic social teaching.
Also, I’m glad to hear Pope Francis emphasize crucial elements of being faithful stewards of God’s creation and how we abuse natural resources for greed and profit at the expense of damaging the planet.
He is definitely putting accountability where it needs to go!
It annoys me to hear some Catholics lambast Pope Francis and his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. Although I’ve never read it, I’ve heard commentary that he addressed very serious concerns about our unified duty to care for the environment because we all share its resources.
What’s so controversial about that?
Overall, taking care of God’s creation is of the utmost importance because it helps fulfill caring for the least of these in society (Matt. 25:40). Being smart on protecting the planet is an act of charity.
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