If you look through my website and blog at all, you are already inclined to make sacrifices in your life to help reduce your impact on the earth. Therefore, the content of this post will not come as a surprise or deviation, in light of the time of year. (The fact that there is only one photo in this post is also apropos of the spartan and simplistic season.) Mardi Gras, a time of excess, has come and gone, and Lent, the Christian response is now underway.
In Christianity, Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and alms giving. But you don’t have to be Christian to appreciate the self-sacrificing value of Lent. Even in a secular or non-Christian community, it doesn’t hurt to take this time to cut back on excess, and to redirect one’s focus on conserving and being grateful for what one has.
Those three principles of Lent mentioned in the first sentence are actually very important for the well being of the whole world. I am not going to tell you to pray, but if you do, that’s wonderful. I am also not going to tell you here whether or how to give alms. I am simply going to address an aspect of fasting.
Ideas for Fasting
While fasting may also seem particularly religious or spiritual, it can be more temporally applied. Fasting normally means limiting your food intake in a day, but you can extrapolate a different interpretation and limit bad things from your diet, instead. Maybe “give up”, or at least limit, your intake of something that is probably not only bad (though a delicious indulgence) for you, but bad for the earth to have to produce – like fast food, mass-produced, store-bought cookies, or lots of superfluous time spent using electronics.
Think of all of the deep fry grease and plastic and energy consumption you will be saving the earth from when you cull these things from your diet, if these are your personal kryptonite. If these are not at all part of your life, that’s great! But I am sure there is something else out there that you consume that comes wrapped up in grease and/or plastic. Our personal one at home is what has turned into our nearly weekly takeout dinner… It usually stems from my lack of desire to prepare a whole meal, most often due to laziness. Fie!
Try one of these ideas for fasting, ranging from simple to a more involved DIY:
-Meatless Mondays and Fridays
-Eat meals out 1 to 2 fewer times a week
-Cut out chips at lunch
-Bake your own bread for sandwiches
-Don’t buy cookies, bake them yourself
-DO NOT ORDER TAKEOUT! (yep, this one is ours)
-Buy locally, even if it means sacrificing and spending more money (you will be less likely to buy superfluous items if they cost more)
-Cut out vending machine snacks, drinks
-Turn off the TV (if you watch TV every night, cut at least two nights from your routine)
Include Fasting as a Daily Habit
Anything you do not already have incorporated into your daily habit is frequently difficult to change, I know. But once you do something more than two times, it becomes much easier to make that part of your routine.
The first time I baked bread, it was a mess and a very daunting process. The second time, it was still messy, but much easier, and it continued to become a cleaner and easier process as I continued to do it on a weekly basis. Now, it takes very little effort at all, just a day when I can set a timer and come back to it periodically before baking - it has become part of my routine, so that it is not a formidable, difficult task. My point is that anything you do like this can become less of a sacrifice and more of your routine, the sacrifice is at the front end, and the reward is usually in the form of money saved down the line.
Doing any one of these things is a sacrifice on your part, as it is meant to be, but it is a sacrifice that will reward you in the belt-tightening way and reduce the wasteful impact on the earth.