Giving up carbon for Lent

Some people give up chocolate. Some people take on an excercise program. Some people set aside time for prayer. This year, Nina Scott is giving up carbon.

The Boston Globe reports:

The retired University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor is hanging wet laundry on a clothesline in her basement to prevent emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from using the dryer. She is carpooling as much as she can and turning off lights more often.

These actions will do little to slow global warming – at most, Scott will probably reduce her “carbon footprint” by 1 or 2 percent during Lent – but she says it’s important to do nonetheless.

“For me, it’s that connection between protecting nature and faith,” said Scott, who is one of about a dozen parishioners at Amherst’s Grace Episcopal Church who are following a Lenten carbon “diet” until Easter and, hopefully, beyond. Across New England, a small but growing number of Christians are pledging to reduce energy usage as part of the 40 days of sacrifice and charitable deeds leading up to Easter. These Lenten environmentalists say they have come to realize they are morally bound to help protect God’s creation from the threat of human-made global warming, and Lent’s season of reflection is an ideal time to start making changes.

Sue Butler of Cambridge stopped eating meat after learning how energy intensive its production can be. Lucy Robinson of Amherst installed a low-flow showerhead to cut her use of hot water. The First Church of Christ in Longmeadow will give out “eco-palms” – plants grown and harvested without harming the environment – on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Leftover palms are burned and used for Ash Wednesday the following year, so in some churches, even the ashes that will be smeared on foreheads next year will be eco-friendly.

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is circulating green Lent ideas to its churches, suggesting, for example, that worshipers use candles instead of lights on Sundays and eat only locally grown foods to avoid the energy used to transport food long distances. “If we do our share, there is hope for the earth,” said Massachusetts Episcopal Bishop Roy F. “Bud” Cederholm Jr.

Religious environmentalism – slowly growing since the 1990s – has exploded along with awareness of human-made climate change. Many faith communities now see the release of heat-trapping gases from power plants and vehicles as the destruction of a precious gift from God.

Read The Boston Globe: Going green for Lent

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