This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I make a percentage at no extra cost to you. This post contains a sponsored review from WeGreeco. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Take care of the world you live in.
No, I’m not going to go on some sort of global warming, overpopulation, save the ocean tirade.
I don’t even think we have a “responsibility” to the earth.
However, I feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to God to take care of the world he has given us.
God created the earth and everything in it. He called it good. It has value in his eyes.
And if the earth has value in God’s eyes, then the earth certainly should have value in my eyes.
God created man and woman and set them over the earth – to take care of it, have dominion over it, cultivate it, and especially – to enjoy it. He gave us the earth for our pleasure, because of his love for us.
However, this earth is not our final home.
We are destined for heaven. So while we have to take care of the world around us, more importantly, we have to keep our eyes on heaven and not make an idol of the physical world.
In this part of the stewardship challenge, we’ll explore some ways to care for the earth without turning it into an idol.
Taking care of the world is the aspect of stewardship that I know the least about.
So I’m going to share the things I’m learning on my journey toward stewardship of the wonderful world God has given me. And I hope you’ll light up the comments with your ideas and recommendations to help me learn more!
Make sure to keep in mind this important reminder:
You don’t have to (and probably can’t) do everything.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of having good stewardship of the earth, start by discerning only one or two things to dive into. Take baby steps!
Cherish the Most Important Part of the World: Your Neighbor
I want to start with this, because nothing else matters if we’re not taking care of the reason the earth is important.
The earth is important because of the people who need it.
While I’m chillaxing in my first world home in my first world neighborhood with my first world problems, there are people in the world dying of hunger and thirst and disease and neglect.
I’m not a missionary.
I can’t physically go and minister to their needs, solve their problems, and keep them alive.
But I can…
I can remember my neighbor – near and far, through prayer. Whether it’s the person living homeless on the street in the city next door, or the person in a war-torn country across the world.
I’m not pointing fingers, but some “middle class” (I hate all these terms, but for lack of better descriptors, I’ll go with it) Americans tend to act poorer than we are.
When it comes to subscribing to Netflix or giving to a charitable cause, can I reaaaallyyyy not afford both? And if I can truly only afford one, am I picking the right one?
I (personally) can give to charitable causes. I can probably give more than I am, and will take it to my husband in prayer once again.
I can’t speak for you or anyone else. Everyone’s financial situation is different.
But, I would challenge you today to let go of the initial “I can’t afford to give” gut reaction.
At least give it a week or two to take it to prayerful discernment, to look at your budget, to watch your spending habits, and make a decision based on facts rather than fear.
Here are some amazing charities to pray for and give to as much as you are able:
Replace Disposable Products with Reusable Products
Not to sound too cliché-Millenial, but I LOVE my reusable straws.
I get it. Reusable products are expensive, and disposable products are cheap.
But it has hit me recently how strongly we’re conditioned to grab the most convenient product and feel absolutely guilt-free about throwing it away.
But the more I’m convicted to take responsibility for my mindless trash producing habits, the more I realize that reusable products are good for our wallet long term, too.
Here’s my strategy when I want to switch to a reusable product.
First, I wait until I almost run out of whatever disposable thing I want to ease out of my life (plastic wrap? baggies? razors? drier sheets?)
When it’s time to buy more, instead of going straight for the disposable option, I spend a little extra to start my journey toward reusables. And I look for an affordable reusable option, rather than the highest quality option.
For a (very TMI) example, when I switched over from disposable to reusable feminine products, I purchased just one pack of washable feminine pads. I used them up, and then resorted to disposables until the next load of laundry.
Just by doing this, I saved up money over time and cut down on my use and purchase of disposable feminine pads. Eventually, I was able to add a second pack of pads, and then a pack of overnights.
Now, I hardly ever buy disposable feminine pads – maybe for traveling, if I know I won’t have easy access to laundry. But between my reusable pads and a menstrual cup, I have practically eliminated one very regular source of trash.
Don’t feel guilty about not being able to go all-in all at once. Stewardship is a journey of responsibility and intentionality.
Currently, I’m in the process of switching from disposable diapers to cloth diapering.
I had dabbled in cloth diapering in the past, with my first baby. However, because of my eczema (in those years it was at its worst ever), it became an unbearable challenge – physically and emotionally taxing.
I also think I wasn’t in love with the particular brand of diaper I had invested SO much money in.
Now, I’m on my 4th baby, and my eczema is at a manageable level. I have been loving my brand of washable feminine products, so when I discovered the same company made cloth diapers – I decided to reach out to them and see if they could help me give cloth diapering another attempt!
WeGreeco sent me one pack of diapers, which I currently use at home, and an extra set of feminine pads for good measure.
At first, I had some issues with the cloth diapers leaking, but now that the diapers have been washed multiple times, those issues have disappeared.
In addition, I picked up some extra inserts to double up on absorbency for overnight, and these awesome compostable diaper liners WeGreeco offers to help cut down on the scrubbing that goes along with poopy diapers (a huge win in my eyes and for my hands).
I love the evidence my diaper pail shows about my decrease in our output of trash. It’s not down to zero, but it’s steadily decreasing, the more I get used to the cloth diaper routine.
We still use disposable diapers when we’re out and about, but the last box of diapers I purchased is lasting me a longggg time, and I’m excited to be saving money to buy another set of cloth diapers from WeGreeco – to keep moving in the direction of taking responsibility for the amount of garbage we produce.
Here is a rundown of the major ways we have swapped disposable for reusable so far:
- silicone and metal straws
- bar mops instead of paper towels
- paper napkins for sleeves (not intentional – we’re just uncultured)
- sponges for dish cloths and washable sponges
- feminine pads and menstrual cups
- cloth diapers, with extra inserts and compostable liners
- plasticware for metal cups and bowls
- bottled water for water bottles
Here are some swaps I’m interested in exploring:
- packaging free food
- plastic wrap for those beeswax things
- real cloth napkins instead of sleeves
- wipes for cloth wipes (we’ve done it before, maybe next baby around if we’re still cloth diapering)
- any of your amazing ideas! (leave a comment)
Here’s one thing I will never ever replace:
- toilet paper; earth can deal with me on this one.
Check out these stories from my friends who want to eliminate unnecessary waste:
- My Reusable Household Favorites – Save Money, Reduce Toxins
- Reducing our Waste and Loving Our Neighbor
- The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture
Prioritize Earth Friendly Materials
A similar concern to how much trash our society creates is our obsession with plastic and other synthetic materials.
Once again: they’re cheap, they’re easy, they’re everywhere.
But they’re not good for our earth.
And they’re not good for us.
I know how hard it is to completely eliminate plastics from our lives. But I’d like to at least begin the journey. I’d like to seek better health for myself, and preserve the environment for my kids to live in now and when they grow up.
I have a few ideas of how I’d like to do this, but I welcome any additions to the list!
1. Skip fast food (or at least the happy meal)
Fast food produces so much plastic waste – often thrown in the trash cans instead of properly recycled. Skip it if you can. Get a metal mug and make your coffee or tea at home. It will probably taste better anyways.
If you’re going to grab chicken nuggets for your kids, at least skip the happy meal, and take a stand against useless plastic junk that goes into a trash can a few weeks or days (or hours – I can’t tolerate the things) later.
And if you’ve made drive thru meals a habit, then maybe head over to the stewardship challenge on self-care to start your journey to more healthy eating.
2. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
I recently bought a few glass spray bottles and began making my own cleaning products using essential oils, vinegar, and water.
This strategy not only cuts down on a regular stream of plastic spray bottles coming in and out of our house, but it’s also better for our health.
Two stewardship birds with one stone.
I’m still early on my journey to using essential oils to take better care of my body, my home, my health, my family, and the earth, but so far I love it.
Learn more about using essential oils from my friends:
3. Swap plastic Food Ware for Safer Ware
When we bought metal cups and bowls for our kids to use, we were able to get rid of our plastic plates and cups (which had teeth and silverware marks that bothered me), but it also helped us be aware of cutting down on our use of paper/plastic plates, cups, and utensils in our house.
It creates more dishes, for sure, and we don’t have a dishwasher. But I’m trying to embrace the sacrifice as much as possible, for the better fruits it brings.
Next up, I’m working on replacing our plastic food storage containers with glass storage containers.
- Similarly, we cook in cast iron as often as possible, rather than Teflon.
- We eat our popcorn and dry snacks out of wooden bowls.
- I serve picnic lunches and afternoon cookies on a wooden tray rather than a plastic one.
- We have glass pitchers to replace our plastic ones for iced tea and lemonade.
Again, we’re not perfect, but as much as possible, we are attempting to let go of our dependence on plastic in our eating habits, for the sake of the earth and our own health and well-being.
Funny side story: Once, I sent my husband’s lunch in a glass container rather than the usual plastic tupperware, and he asked if that was safe for the microwave. Safer than plastic, anyways, if you can count any kind of microwaving safe. I had a good laugh!
Look into Ethical Sourcing and Fair Trade
This last topic, I really know next to nothing about.
And it’s not because I don’t care, but rather that there’s so much to learn and care about on the journey of good stewardship, that I can’t possibly know everything.
I’m working my way toward this one.
I want to be confident that my kids aren’t clothed at the expense of abuse of children in other countries.
I want to know that the money I spend on shoes and coats and pants isn’t filling some corporate CEO’s pockets, while leaving workers in inhumane conditions.
I want to know that farmers are being fairly paid for the hard work they do to make sure my family has food on our tables.
Ethical Sourcing and Fair Trade are very important topics, that I desire to learn more about. I’m starting the journey basically at ground zero, so again, I’d love to have your tips and knowledge.
My current go-to strategy is to focus on buying or swapping second-hand, but I desire to be more informed so I can make ethical decisions when I do need something new.
If you’re at ground zero with me, here are a few sources I’ve found that I’m beginning my journey with. I’m starting with seeking education and making a plan for implementation.
Begin the Good Stewardship Virtue Challenge Today!
Remember, you don’t have to do it all.
Take these ideas to prayerful discernment. Identify one, or maybe two, that are tugging on your heart. Ask God to show him how you can grow closer to him and to your destination in heaven by practicing good stewardship, and taking better care of the world he’s given you, this month.
Check out the rest of the Challenge, where we will dive into the other aspects of good stewardship:
Stay in Touch:
Sign up for emails to make sure you don’t miss the next Stewardship Virtue Challenge!