Being Green or Going Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.  So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator or elevator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go a few blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana .  We also did not have remote controls for the TV. We kids were the remote for our parents. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. Whenever we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a cheap flimsy plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled our writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. Plus we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

I find it ironic that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then. To realize the full irony, look at how many trees our “paperless society” has killed the past 30 years in out computerized world.

*The Steward Loves the Creator: Christian stewardship begins with willing obedience to the great commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). Stewardship grows out of love for God. The steward’s love for God is nourished by his remembrance of Calvary, where the great lover of our souls provided the ultimate demonstration of stewardship in His submission to the One He served (Philippians 2:5, 9).

*The Steward Loves the Creation: God has allowed the creation to be subjected to the futility of sinful mankind, but He loves the creation. In Colossians 1:16,20, we read that in Christ “all things were created, both in the heavens and the earth…He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (hold together). And it was the purpose of the Father that this same Christ should “reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” The incarnation, humanity, suffering, and death of Christ demonstrate God’s love for souls and the created order within which each soul is embedded—the flesh of man, the creatures, and the life-sustaining environment. Even under the curse of sin, the wisdom and greatness of God is evident in the marvellous design and function of the human body and the bodies of various plants, animals, and microbes. Each species has been woven by the Creator into a complex tapestry of life with many intricate interrelationships necessary for their survival. The steward who loves the Creator (John 1: 1-3), Sustainer (Colossians 1 :17), and Redeemer (Colossians 1:18-20) is moved by the indwelling Spirit to love what God loves, and to live in harmony with his neighbour and the created order which is being sustained by God. The steward views his responsibility to love and care for the creation as an important part of God’s redemptive plan.

*The Steward Understands His Role: All creatures and all natural resources belong to the Creator God (Exodus 19:5, Psalm 24:1). The divine Owner delegated to man the responsibility to be a steward of the natural order of creation. That is, man was called to subdue and rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28) while being careful “to dress it” (serve it) and “keep it” (preserve it) (Genesis 2:15).


Footnote: *Exerpt from “Christian Stewardship of the Environment” by John E. Silvius. Dr. Silvius is a Professor of Biology at Cedarville University, Ohio. He is the author of a college level biology textbook, “Biology: Principles and Perspectives (4th edition).”