I’m psyched to introduce you to Tracey Bianchi. Tracey is the author of Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet. She’s a mom of three, a leader in her church, and her insights about environmental stewardship are challenging, inspiring, and couched in the reality of family life in the suburbs.
I’m a Midwestern girl. Born and raised in the exciting, mountainous, known for high altitude state of Illinois . . . went to college in Iowa and lived for a few years in Denver before returning home to Chicago. I’m smack in the middle of the country, in the middle of an old suburb. And I’m in the middle of raising three young children (ages 3, 5 and 8). So my husband and I offer a perspective on stewardship and a life of giving that comes from a pretty common place, a journey that I hope many people can identify with somewhere along the way.
Often, when people talk about “going green” it comes from either an organic farm perspective or some swanky high end, eco-loft on HGTV. My perspective is from what I hope is a more realistic place. From the commuting, carpooling, grocery shopping, soccer game after school place. I serve part time on staff at my church and full time in the chaos of parenting my little ones.
OK, let’s dive right in. Talking about caring for the environment can be controversial among Christians because, for many, the issue is immediately associated with politics. Words like “green” or “environmentalist” can cause quite a ruckus! So, first things first, why do you think it’s important for Christians — of all political stripes — to practice creation care?
It is interesting that for the most part, Christians have sloughed off this conversation as some liberal, hippie, political agenda. Or, they cite poor science and argue that “global warming/climate change” is untrue. To which I honestly, say, does that really matter? God gave us a mandate at the beginning of Scripture to care for/steward over the earth. We should be excited about caring for God’s Creation because we know the Creator.
If we go back to Genesis 1-2 we see the story of creation and humankind and we see God’s invitation to steward over the earth, to care for it so that all the people God created could receive the bounty of this amazing world. We do not need an intergovernmental panel on climate change to see that we are on a course to outlive our resources.
It helps to recognize that part of our very souls has been designed to care for the resources God gives us. There are good, God-ordained lessons we learn when we live in moderation and consider the impact of our daily lives. When half the planet lives on top of their garbage, cannot find clean water, when children breathe air that taints their lungs with lead and mercury, or we see massive increases in childhood asthma and other diseases, I’d say we have an environmental problem that God cares about. That somehow our current inability to care for what we have been given is creating havoc in the lives of others.
What’s your own story with this issue? Has creation care always been important to you — or has it been a journey?
It’s been a journey. Once I had children I became passionate about helping them inherit a world that was as beautiful as the world I experienced as a child. I grew up camping and hiking, grew up enjoying the splendor of the world. I wanted to be sure I could pass along a set of memories that would include wild places, National Parks, backcountry experience and even simple everyday things like Honeybees and Monarch Butterflies. So much of the world we live in today is tender, on the brink of destruction. And I realized that a few simple tweaks like how much I drive or whether I drink from a plastic water bottle could make a difference.
I hope my kids can enjoy the splendor of God the way I did. And that because of this they might know that God loves them and created a beautiful world for them to know him by.
What Scripture passage(s) most inspire and drive you in your concern for environmental issues? Why?
Skimming the Bible you will see hundreds of places where God meets with his people in Creation, where Jesus taught and unveiled his plan for humanity with examples from the agrarian culture that existed at that time. The Psalmist declares in Psalm 24, “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” My hope is that we live like this is truly a command rather than a mere suggestion. This is my favorite passage on this topic.
The headlines are full of bad news about the environment — pollution, nuclear waste, oil spills, and more. I recently learned that here in metro Indianapolis we have dangerously high levels of mercury in many of our rivers and lead (from decades of industrial pollution) in Indy’s downtown soil, particularly in the inner-city residential areas. Yikes! So how can we move from feeling discouraged, guilty, and overwhelmed (as I often feel about all this bad news) to feeling empowered, inspired, and determined? Can we really make a difference?
The old adage that every little bit makes a difference is really true. To live a little “greener” we can make simple tweaks that add up big if everyone else is doing the same. Like walking more and driving less. Or ditching the disposable plastic bottles (we toss some 60 million into landfills each day). We can get around the doom and gloom reports if we take time to enjoy God’s Creation as well. If you enjoy the beauty of the earth you will find yourself more passionate about preserving the spaces that are special to you. A favorite trail or local park, you may find a nearby conservation project piques your interest. Suddenly it is no longer a depressing report on the state of the planet but an opportunity to keep safe a treasure that you enjoy.
So what are a few “easy” everyday choices we can make in order to live as God-honoring stewards of creation?
• Drive less and walk more — pick one errand a week and walk or bike to it.
• Ditch the disposable (bottles, containers, plastic bags) — find reusable versions.
• Turn your thermostat up a notch in summer and down in winter (and you will save roughly 3% on your electric bill for every degree you go up or down)
• Wash your clothing in cold water (most detergents work great in both temps and you will save 1000+ pounds of CO2 emissions per year, not to mention saving on your energy bill (80% of the energy that goes into washing clothes is for heating the water).
Have you been challenged by Tracey’s insights? Please leave a comment here to share your reaction.