Carbon Fast – Are You Up To It?

I love looking for new ways to reduce Planet Earth with a fever, held in handsmy environmental footprint…and especially the amount of greenhouse gases I produce, so that I can do my part to reduce climate change, the greatest problem that has ever faced humanity.

And undertaking a ‘carbon fast’ is a great way undertake the challenge.  I especially like the way it is only for a limited time…it’s a way of trying out more difficult changes before committing to them permanently.

And there is no better time than now.

Fasting is a feature of many religions.  It is also promoted by some health advisors.

Right now, Christians are in Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter.  For Christians, Lent is the time to remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, facing challenge and temptation.  It is a time to reflect on God’s purpose for our life. Many Christians take this opportunity to fast from coffee, alcohol or chocolates.

Later in the year, Muslims will fast during Ramadan.  They will also practice self-restraint in body and mind.  This fasting, from dawn until sunset, is one of the five pillars of Islam.  It is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice.

People following many other religions will fast at other times during the year.

But this year the challenge is deeper, to take a carbon fast – to reduce the use of carbon based fuels on which we all depend.

There are several resources available to help structure this time of reflection and action.  Here are 3 from Christian organisations that have been released especially for Lent 2014 – but you don’t need to be a Christian, or to confine your fast to Lent! 😉

TEAR Australia, the Anglican Communion Environment Network, and the 6 Anglican Dioceses in the South West of England (in partnership with Tearfund) have put together guides & other resources to help undertake a Carbon Fast for Lent.  These contain:

  • a weekly theme, with resources to read or watch and reflect upon
  • actions or challenges to take as an individual
  • some suggestions of community actions you can take
  • something you can consider doing to change the system

I really like the way both groups of Anglicans have included links to a calculator to check your environmental footprint before you start the fast.

This is a great idea, and it can be very enlightening.

I like to think that I am leading a fairly low-carbon lifestyle (at least for someone living in a western country) – and I know that my carbon footprint is much lower than most people where I live.

But it is sobering to find out that, even with all the modifications I have made to my home and lifestyle, if everyone in the world lived like me we would still need a bit over 1½ planet Earths.  And as there is only one planet Earth, clearly I still have a long way to go!  Friends who have taken the test are even more shocked. 😉

I think the way that the south-west England Anglican dioceses are aiming to reduce their household’s and church’s carbon footprint by 40% this Lent is fantastic, and I commend the initiative!

One way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2020 is to halve them each year.

So I thought that reducing my greenhouse gas emissions by 40% for 40 days would be a good trial run. 😉

The problem is, how to do it when I have already reduced my emissions a lot in so many areas…and when our society (at least in Australia) is geared to using fossil fuels.

Taking account of the actions I have already taken, I decided that the areas where I could make the biggest difference are:

  1. Transport – avoiding all use of private petroleum-driven motor vehicles
  2. Food – grow more of my own and only buy locally produced where it is available
  3. Stuff – buy nothing new

I’ll let you know how I go on my carbon fast.  It will certainly be a challenge – particularly living in Canberra, a western city designed for the motor car

How big is your environmental or carbon footprint? Just leave your comments in the Reply box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!