October 02, 2020
After the first month of the quarantine, people observed that the skies and some of our marine areas were starting to get cleaner. Experts observed that the air quality from densely-populated areas had dramatically improved; the air was becoming cleaner and less polluted.
With the majority of people staying inside their homes, many began to develop interest in home gardening either for leisure or for livelihood. Hence, the rise of the plantitos and plantitas.
It seems that the pandemic has made us realize that how we live our lives greatly affects the environment we live in.
After around six months of quarantine, my husband and I found ourselves wondering about the condition of the environment. With the news about zoonotic diseases and the looming threats of global warming, we can’t help but ask:
Will our future children be able to enjoy the beauty of nature?
Will they be able to run freely on the ground?
Our current situation looks and feels like a page from a dystopian novel where people have to wear masks to go outside and many people have no access to essential needs such as food and clean water.
It’s easy to be discouraged and afraid of the future, but as believers, we know that everything on this earth—further than our eyes can see—belongs to God.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.
Psalm 24:1 (NLT)
He is the creator, the owner, and the Lord of everything. Nothing and no one can claim that ownership. Because He is the Lord of all, He is in charge and in control.
The environmental problems we face are more than just a global crisis; they are also our personal crisis. These were formed out of years of negligence, greed, and abuse of both past and present generations. The real problem lies not just in our system, but in our hearts.
How do we start?
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
1 Corinthians 4:2 (NRSV)
We start by acknowledging that we are stewards entrusted with a serious calling.
God is the owner of everything, and He called us to be stewards, caretakers of everything He has created. This is a sacred calling that was entrusted to and prepared for us. We are meant to nurture and protect creation, not to destroy or abuse.
When my husband and I embraced this truth, we started to be more mindful of the environment and decided to start living a zero-waste lifestyle. We started with auditing our trash, lessening our waste, having friendly conversations with different tinderas in the market about plastic pollution, and picking up trash near the beach.
Through the years, we learned to be mindful of our carbon footprint, tried urban gardening and composting, and eventually started shifting to a plant-based food diet.
Transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle had not been easy. We had to let go of certain things that we had gotten used to, and that was the hard part. We had our failures and the pandemic made it especially hard, since disposables are the safest to use these days.
However, we realized that becoming a good steward does not happen overnight. Rather, it is a journey that requires one step at a time. And every step we take, no matter how small or how long it takes, is never in vain. We believe that as we tread the path to good and faithful stewardship, it will also lead us to protect the generations after us.
If we choose to commit to do the best we can to start a change in the world—even though it is just a small step—we will slowly and surely see change in ourselves, our neighborhood, and even our society!
Since stewardship is a journey, here are five steps you can take towards the path of becoming a good steward.
We believe that the first “R” is the most important. It means saying no to unnecessary waste and being creative (i.e., looking for alternatives). This practical step allows us to be wise when it comes to our purchases. Refusing is a good practice of self-control and an expression of our beliefs. It’s easy to say no if you know what you value, so you can start by assessing your personal values around this thing.
Part of this is our decision to invest in good quality products, even though they’re pricey, and to not settle with cheap yet substandard products. This practice minimizes the need to buy new items to replace broken ones.
We also decided to cook our own food rather than to eat out frequently.
Start finding out where your trash is coming from. When you plan to go out, remember to bring reusables (e.g. water bottles, cutlery, and napkins) and buy only what you need. Just because something’s trending doesn’t mean you need it.
Sometimes, we call this the “minimalist mindset.” It means being clear with what we really need and simply sticking with it. This allows us to check our hearts and to remind ourselves that life is not measured by how much stuff we have.
Less is definitely more! Less possession means less waste. You can start checking your stuff one by one then sell or give away those that you no longer need. Only keep those items that are valuable to you.
Ask yourself: “Which of these will benefit me in the long run?” If you need to buy a new item, purchase multifunctional items or buy second-hand.
To reuse is to switch up disposable items to reusable ones. Plastic is not necessarily evil, but the overproduction of plastic materials will endanger our environment and eventually our health.
Instead of throwing them away, we can repurpose non-biodegradable items. For example, instead of throwing away your toothbrush, use it as a cleaning material. Reuse your glass jars at home by bringing one anywhere with you and using it as a container for food and beverages. You will find out more ways to reuse an item as you research other ways to do it.
I am an avid fan of repairing shoes and jeans. I have clothes that easily give up on me, but I am willing to have them repaired. It’s good that I learned how to sew. When we learn how to repair things, they won’t end up in our landfills.
The heart behind repairing is to give a second life to a useful item. Instead of throwing an item away, we can give it to someone who would love to have it.
Don’t be too quick to throw away broken things. Find ways to repair them. If you don’t want them anymore, donate them but make sure to fix the item before you donate. For recyclable items, it is best to sell them to junk shops near you.
Practice composting by allowing compostable items to rot in the soil. Compost is beneficial to plants and other soil animals.
Food waste is one of the major contributors of waste in the world. Compostable waste mixed with non-biodegradable items (which is also the case in landfills) will release greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment. That is why proper disposal of compostable waste should be a priority.
Composting is a bit of a challenge to do in Manila, but after much research and doing it for two years, we learned how to build our mini-compost system using a large pail!
You can start doing this by researching different kinds of composting systems and find out what is doable for you at home. Then have a discussion with your parents on how you can start proper waste management at home, especially when it comes to food waste. You wouldn’t want to surprise your parents with a new hole in your backyard, right?
We are all stewards who have been given this calling and responsibility to take care of and cultivate our environment (Genesis 1:26–28).
Being a faithful steward is not an easy job, but let us remember that our small steps of obedience over the course of time can become a great example that we set for the generations to follow.