During the season of Lent, Christians look for ways to deepen their connection to the Creator through repentance and renewal. Many of us have understood this season to be a time to deprive oneself of normal, pleasing habits. We might give up chocolate or coffee or other simple pleasures of life as a way to connect more completely with God. The “Simply Catholic” website suggests 10 tips for a more meaningful season of Lent, which includes slowing down, reading a good book, being kind, getting involved, praying and donating to good causes. Along those lines, the Green Junction will offer suggestions over the next five weeks for “giving up” stuff/habits harmful to nature and one another for a more meaningful Lenten season.
This week’s suggestion is to give up or eliminate food waste in your life. In the United States, nearly 40% of food is wasted. Worldwide, this number is about 33%, or 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year. The loss of food happens on many fronts. Food goes to waste when items that appear unappealing due to odd shape, size and/or color are removed from the food supply chain. Food is wasted when wholesome edible items are not eaten within a healthy time frame or when food is left over (too much prepared/purchased) and simply thrown away. Food is wasted when the supply chain is inhibited by changes in food distribution or international conflicts. While an unimaginable amount of food goes to waste every day, nearly 820 million people around the world are hungry. Other losses from food waste include the earthly nutrients required for growth, the added fertilizers/pesticides, and freshwater. There are so many reasons to pay attention to food waste and give it up on a personal level.
The actions are rather simple. Take note of the amount of food discarded in your home or at places where you enjoy your meals and do all you can to eliminate waste. If you find that you tend to purchase more than you need, make adjustments to reduce your purchases or donate extra to food pantries. Consider taking one step further and create a backyard compost bin for vegetable and fruit scraps and eggshells. The food scraps will turn back to nutrients for the earth on a very local level! When food waste and scraps end up in landfills, they likely decompose and release methane gas, which contributes to global warming. Mostly, keep in mind all those who do not have daily nourishment as you take note of food waste in our world. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25.
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.