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Eco-fasting for Lent

February 16, 2010:

Rather than the usual attempts to give up personal vices such alcohol or cigarettes, this Lent many groups are promoting "eco-fasting", which can benefit both the environment and some of the most disadvantaged people in our world. Below are some examples:

Carbon fasting

This year the Church of England, in conjunction with Tearfund, will once again be promoting a very different kind of “fast” for Lent, a “carbon fast”. Over the past few years Bishops James Jones and Richard Chartres, of Liverpool and London respectively, have encouraged church goers to take small but incremental steps around their homes to reduce their consumption of carbon. In comparison to giving up smoking, which almost exclusively benefits the person who makes the sacrifice, reducing carbon emissions could help some of the poorest people in the world who are most affected by climate change. These are the people who do not have things to give up for Lent; climate change is already taking vital food and land away from them.

Lenten calendars

In 2008 St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School created a wonderful Lenten calendar with a different eco-friendly yet very achievable suggestion for every day of Lent, such as joining the library, buying fair-trade flowers, growing tomatoes, and thinking about every single thing you put in the bin today. The Catholic Climate Covenant has produced a calendar for Lent this year, which any one can follow. Please link here to view.

Green Lent blog-spot

Ann Kristin Haldors Fontaine, an Episcopal priest from Wyoming in the USA started a blog called Green Lent in 2007. It’s a great resource for people looking to ‘go green’ this Lent, and an inspiring example of how going green doesn’t just have to be for Lent, but can be turned into a regular way of life.

'Give it Up!' campaign

As part of their Seven Year Plan, CAFOD (Catholic Agency For Overseas Development) will use Lenten observance to encourage people to think about their impact on the earth, and to begin to make pledges that can be acted out in a concrete way. This year CAFOD is encouraging people to join their programme Give it Up!, where money saved by giving up anything – chocolate, biscuits, wine – is donated to people in the developing world to make a lasting improvement in their lives. For more information on the 7 year plan link here.

'Treading Lighter During Lent'

The diocese of Newcastle has been working with the Energy Saving Trust on a project called ‘Treading Lighter During Lent’. It is based on the idea that Lent is a time for learning new habits of holy living, and has encouraged both clergy and parishioners to measure their carbon emissions on a weekly basis, and to use the season of Lent as an opportunity to shrink their carbon footprint. In 2009 the Lent Prayer Guide produced by the diocese of Gloucester included ‘Green Prayers’ and a call for ‘carbon fasting’ as part of Lenten observance. For more information click here.

A time for reflection

The Church of Norway has also recognised the importance of Lent as a time for reflection, and in their Ten Year Plan call for it to be a period in which Christians focus on their environmental involvement.

'Drink Water for Life'

A fantastic project which could inspire many people over this coming Lent period is Drink Water for Life. The idea is simple, to drink water or other cheap beverages instead of expensive lattes, fizzy drinks or bottled water, for a set period of time, be this a day, a week, or perhaps Lent. The money which one saves is then donated to the charity, which works with areas which don’t have clean, accessible drinking water, to help provide such facilities. Additionally, this reduces the amount of packaging and transport associated with what one drinks, which can only serve to help protect the environment. Please visit their official website here.

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18 February, 2010:
African leaders pledge eco action
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