This Lent, Why Not a Carbon Fast?

This Wednesday marked the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian tradition. As you may know, Lent, which lasts for 40 days until Easter Sunday on April 5th, is a time of reflection and discipline when many Christians give up something and/or take on new challenges in their personal and spiritual lives, such as fasting. This Lent, why not do a different kind of fast, a carbon fast?

A “carbon fast” is an opportunity to live out our commitment to care for creation by cutting down on the amount of carbon we use in our daily lives such as through transportation and electricity. In case you’re wondering how to get started, Blessed Tomorrow’s partners have a number of outstanding resources to guide you along the way. 

The United Church of Christ, who initiated their first ecumenical carbon fast five years ago, has a site offering a powerful rationale for fasting and invites congregations from all traditions to join with them. There, you can sign-up for daily emails or texts that include tips on reducing carbon and engaging your congregation as a whole. 

While some may carbon fast by committing to a single action, such as taking the bus to work instead of driving, you may prefer to do something different everyday. In which case, you’ll find Iowa Interfaith Power Light’s 2015 Carbon Fast Calendar an outstanding source of ideas and inspiration. You can even find resources specific to the Catholic tradition at the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s carbon fast page.

Regardless of what you choose for your fast, it’s important not to lose sight of its spiritual dimension. We don’t fast just to prevent climate change. Rather, we do it to express our gratitude for the wonderful world we have been given and fulfill our shared responsibility to be good neighbors and stewards of the created world. 

In that spirit, it’s a great idea to treat Lent and the carbon fast not as a burden we carry for 40 days, but as a chance to test out new habits we can carry with us for the rest of the year. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be fair for me to write a blog promoting carbon fasting without taking on a personal pledge. This Lent, I will be doing meatless Mondays, donating to a favorite environmental charity, and obeying the speed limit for the first time in my life. 

How about you? Feel free to share your commitment in the comments below!


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