Lenten Ecology, Prayer, and Practice – Week 1: February 22 – 28

Rethinking Purchases and Consumption

Here is a printable one page version of the below information: 2021 Lenten Program WEEK 1

Reflection and Action

Our Lenten journey has begun, and we are called to consider what we might fast from, or give up, as part of our spiritual growth toward Easter. Can this giving up – a form of asceticism – open us to the presence of Spirit in our daily lives? Elizabeth Johnson, writing in Ask the Beasts, speaks of a “sensuous, earth-affirming asceticism” that leads to a simpler way of living as part of a conversion to the Earth and a turning away from our dominant consumer culture.

As we work toward the goal of Zero Waste, we often hear the three-part guideline of REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. This week we’ll focus on REDUCE with ideas for re-thinking your purchases and overall consumption.

As the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes, “The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy – raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.”

An obvious question to ask before making any purchase is “Do I really need this?” If the answer is yes, consider these additional questions and suggestions to guide your purchasing decisions:

  • Is it reliable? Is it well-made, so it will last longer and not have to be replaced soon?
  • Can I rent, borrow, or share instead of buying?
  • Consider buying used instead of new. Many items are available at reuse centers and consignment shops.
  • Look for products that use less packaging; consider buying in bulk. Check out TARE Market in Minneapolis – “Minnesota’s First Zero Waste Shop”.
  • Buy reusable instead of disposable items.
  • Buy LOCAL whenever possible – food, books, clothing.

For more helpful ideas on reducing your consumption, check out these online resources: