Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stewardship, Trees, & SUVs

I'm 27 years old. I can barely remember not recycling. When my family moved to Windham, NH in 1990, the town already had mandatory recycling. So it wasn't until I went to college (in Quincy, MA) that I didn't throw every can, bottle, and piece of paper in a different bin. And I was even more conflicted when we lived in Kansas City, KS for two and a half years, an area where I only found one person who recycled, and he just considered it "a hobby." Recycling was for those liberal tree-huggers.

Speaking of trees, we just spent a week in northern Vermont on our annual trip to the family camp on Lake Champlain, just north of St. Alban's Bay. I attribute much of my love for creation to spending summers growing up on the edge of the Lake, watching the sunset, catching various small creatures of the wild, and driving the backroads of the Green Mountain state, full of incredible views of trees and mountains. (Here are a few pictures of our family vacations this summer, including some decent sunset pics.)

So I was brought up - both in the home and in school - to be concerned for God's creation through care for the environment. Throwing a Diet Coke can or a newspaper into the trash gives me about the same feeling that throwing a dime or a quarter into the trash might. It just doesn't feel right and feels like a waste. For similar reasons, I turn out lights whenever I can (a never-ending job with little ones whose greatest feeling of power and self-ability is to flip those little light switches and watch the grand change it makes).

In college, when I started driving a 1993 Volvo 850 that came with the gadget built in that tells you your average gas mileage and your current gas usage, I began being more concerned with how much gas I used. It was as much a hobby and a money-saver as it was a world-saving activity, but ever since then, it's been a concern.

The fact that we are in the market for a new (used) car coupled with the transportation needs of a family of five means that we have to buy another big vehicle. If I could, I would get a Geo Metro or Toyota Prius. But we can't. It's not practical right now. We made the decision a while ago to be a one vehicle family for the foreseeable future. We challenged ourselves on the American assumption that every family needs two vehicles. We're going along just fine with but one.

I guess I'm settling on the thought that being a good steward - both of finances and of God's creation - goes beyond the first look. Though we're likely to purchase an SUV or minivan (we've somewhat settled on the Honda Pilot) - a vehicle that drinks rather than sips gasoline - there are other factors at hand. Sure...we could also buy a small car for trips to the grocery store and for my daily travels across the South Shore, but in addition to the purchase of the car, that would mean more insurance, more registration fees, and more repair costs. This would further hinder us financially, and limit our ability to contribute to the compassionate needs and ministries that we care about, which for us is also part of being good stewards.

(On a side note, we finally got our economic stimulus check, part of which we've been planning for Kiva loans. We lent for three more last night and will do at least one more. Kiva is great - check it out. I'm not sure this is what Mr. Bush and the Congress meant by "economic stimulus," but it works for me.)

Anyway, I guess this post is a release for me. In a time when everyone is down-sizing vehicles and doing their best to help curb dependency on oil, it seems at first glance for me that we're going the other direction.

There are other things that we can do and are doing to alleviate our usage of depleting natural resources. We compost. We recycle everything that we can. I've just purchased one of these. And I've even *gasp* gone through a day here and there lately without showering...I know: "How gross!"...but it's really not. Daily showering is another American assumption that is in the vast minority of the norm throughout history and even the modern world. We've done really well this summer and the past few to minimalize the use of our window ACs.

As much as it's stretched our budget a bit, I think these oil problems are a good thing in the long run. We Americans have long overrun our allotment of the resources of the world. We need to change our ways. If you want to be challenged on these things, read McLaren's latest book, Everything Must Change.

1 comment:

  1. what up bro...

    ...yeah, now that i'm living in the northwest...there isn't much that can't be recycled. Mandy and I just went down to one car and are learning the transportation system to help out a little bit. i'm interested in this kiva thing, i'm gonna check it out now. hit me up sometime man, and check out my blog and help me keep my theology in check :) much love from the west coast