Christians throughout the world flocked to churches on March 6, 2019 to hear mass and receive ash crosses on their foreheads in observance of Ash Wednesday .

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the Lenten season, where Christians are encouraged to pray, fast, and abstain. Fasting from food, especially meat, is the usual practice for most Christians during the 40-day season. Sweets, alcohol, and junk food are also some of the popular things Christians give up as a sign of penance and self-denial during Lent.

I’ve called it plastic-less Lent because I think plastic-free is impossible, and it makes people feel guilty. I wanted to do something which was empowering and encouraging, rather than condemnatory. —Dr. Ruth Valerio, Tearfund’s global advocacy and influencing director

However, this year, Christians are urged to find other ways to fast this Lenten season.

UK Christian charity organization Tearfund launched a campaign to challenge people to minimize the use of plastic this Lent, according to Church Times.

Dr. Ruth Valerio, Tearfund’s global advocacy and influencing director, said reducing the use of plastic is a great practice that could continue even after Easter. “For me, doing something like this over Lent is every bit as appropriate as doing a particular Bible study, or a set thing of prayers.”

She explained that, “I’ve called it plastic-less Lent because I think plastic-free is impossible, and it makes people feel guilty. I wanted to do something which was empowering and encouraging, rather than condemnatory.”

Meantime, the Anglican Church in Ireland launched a #pennies4plastic campaign. Aside from reducing plastic consumption, the campaign aims to raise money to fund a Waste Aid project in Gambia.

Last year, the Church of England convinced its members to forgo single-use plastics with the start of the Lent Plastic Challenge, reports Climate Action.

To help worshipers in the Challenge, the Church issued a calendar with environmentally-themed Bible verses and gave suggestions on how to avoid using plastic and what to use as an alternative to it. The CoE advised congregants to be proactive in choosing products that help Mother Nature such as shopping at local markets, buying bamboo toothbrush and choosing natural fibers instead of synthetic.

Ruth Knight, CoE’s environmental policy officer said, reducing the amount of plastic being used, “ties in closely with our calling as Christians to care for God’s creation.”

This year, the CoE urged congregants to participate in “little pilgrimages” and collect litter as they walk and pray together.

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Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@onechristianvoice.com.