Fasting From Polluting — A Proposal for Lent 2015

A message from the school’s Environmental Advocate, Ms. Allyn Chua-Go Tian: We are already on our 13th day of the 40 days of Lent. I would like to share with you a proposal of fasting this Lent from the Ecology Program of the Jesuit Service- Cambodia entitled Fasting from Polluting, to make your observance of Lent more meaningful. At the end of the article is a link to the Lenten Carbon Fast 2015, a 40-day Lent calendar that will involve ourselves more in efforts of preserving God’s creation through our daily acts of reducing climate pollution.

Fasting from Polluting – A Proposal for Lent 2015

Pollution is when we put something into the environment, whether intentionally or not, that is harmful or poisonous to others. We are not really aware of the effects of pollution in the world and how we contribute to it. So perhaps it would be helpful to consider some facts–

  • The leading cause of income countries is not malnutrition, not tuberculosis or malaria or HIV/AIDS. What has killed more people than all these is pollution.
  • According to the World Health Organization, about 7 million people die every year from air pollution. That’s around 19,000 people from all around the world who die every single day! Approximately 90% of these people live in Asia, who breathes in smoke from the burning of wood, charcoal, or coal, in indoor cooking stoves and from outdoor air pollution caused by motor vehicles and factories.
  • Our soil and water supplies are polluted by many chemicals and pathogens, a number coming from open garbage land fills. Diseases pass on to us through our food and water. In fact, each day about 14,000 people die from contaminated water supplies.

Pollution does not kill us directly or quickly. Instead, pollution weakens our bodies and makes us vulnerable to many diseases such as diarrhea, chest infections, cancers, respiratory and heart diseases. And the people most likely to be affected first are the poor, due to their already limited access to clean water, clean food and clean air. The poor suffer first.

During this season of Lent, we are invited to enter our own deserts, to reflect on ourselves and on our sinfulness. We do this not by looking only at our own persons, as in a vacuum, but by examining our relations with others—other people, other creatures, our environment, withGod. We are invited to assess our accountability for negatively affecting the environment and the people around us, especially the poisoned poor.

So how about fasting from polluting this Lent? Many of us will be fasting from food, soft drinks, chocolate, or things that make us gain weight. But as the world we share gets more and more degraded, and more of our brothers and sisters are getting sick, perhaps we can keep them in mind and fast from contributing to this situation.

Some initial steps maybe–

  • Walk or bike to your destination if you can. Plan the use of your motored vehicle. Limiting the use of your motorbike or car helps in decreasing pollution in the world.
  • Be mindful of the lights or electricity that you use. Majority of the electricity in Cambodia is produced by diesel engines which spill a lot of pollution into the air, the air we breathe!
  • As you buy things from a store, try not to accept the plastic bag that they will usually provide. Put your purchased item in your own bag. The plastic bag you save is one plastic bag less in your landfill or in our seas!
  • Abstain from the use of plastic straws, polystyrene lunch boxes, and other food items that come in disposable wrappers, such as noodles and candies. Be mindful of the packaging of the food that you eat. These items cannot be recycled and are either thrown away or burned, both of which cause pollution.

So as we enter our deserts this Lent, let us refrain from creating more poison and harm in the world. Rather, may our actions reflect a simpler, more humble and caring approach towards others and the rest of God’s good creation.

You can find the 40-day Lenten Carbon Fast here:

Another Lenten Calendar Fast can be found at this link:

If you want to read more on more environmental initiatives for this Lenten season, go to:

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