“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
– Genesis 1:28
On the sixth day of Earth’s existence, God charged humanity with the care and stewardship of his greatest creation: a planet teeming with all manner of interesting creatures, environments, and yet undiscovered wonders. This ultimately begs the question: are we doing enough as Christians in honoring God’s will?
While most Christians are raised with a ‘stewards of the Earth’ mentality, not all of them are doing all they can to act on it. Past generations have proven that many fall short of the responsibility of being dominant, intelligent beings.
As overseers of the Earth, humans have an inherent responsibility to create and maintain a sustainable living environment for both ourselves and the entire creation.
Humanity—with Christians included—has a tendency to forget that the world we leave behind becomes the next generation’s responsibility.
Proverbs 13:22 states that “a good man leaves an inheritance for his children.” Christians are charged with caring for the world in a manner that promotes earthly longevity, and as our knowledge of Earth increases, so does our responsibility to preserve it.
Northwest University’s culture has recently adopted a clean environment as a more important idea than ever before, as seen by the rapid increase in recycling bins around campus. Why the change? “Loving the environment is loving each other!” said Marmar Castro, chairwoman of the NU Science Society’s Environment Committee, in relating our obligation to the Earth to our Christian faith.
Dr. Brad Embry, current NU theology professor, notes that “in this day and age [preserving the environment] is becoming less optional.”
The rising population, progression of technology, and need to expand our living areas has taken its toll on the Earth in monumental ways. We now have an obligation to fix what we have damaged.
Embry himself contributes to the solution by setting limits on his resource consumption. “I actually set up a self-imposed policy where I only allow myself 20 dollars for gas a month.” In order to enforce his limit, Embry frequently commutes to work on his bicycle and uses a gas-less lawn mower called a ‘Reel Mower.’
Embry is only one of many at NU that commutes via bicycle, some professors even travel from across the 520 bridge on bikes.
Staff emails are sent out that encourage commuting and carpooling. While the power of the student body produces a larger effect than that of the staff, Castro validates individualistic efforts, proclaiming, “Even though one may feel their efforts are similar to one drop of water in the ocean, the ocean would be less without that one drop.
While the NU staff has made a big splash, the student body has made recent efforts in this seemingly endless battle. Castro, in her time at Northwest, has successfully instituted an Earth day, as well as an Earth week.
Over the years, Northwest has partnered with many different eco-friendly organizations with the goal of making a change.
Recently Green Kirkland’s efforts to plant over 500 trees in the local watershed were made a reality with the help of caring NU students.
Castro also mentioned that the NU administration even attempted to start a composting program in the Caf, but it failed due to a lack of proper communication with the student body. Many students were not aware of the program, thwarting its effectiveness as students continued to throw their food away in normal garbage cans.
So what can students do to improve conditions on campus?
Clear communication between the student body and the staff and faculty are a must to avoid mishaps like the cancelled composting fiasco. Students need to make sure that faculty is aware of their desire to improve campus conditions, and the people in charge of making these changes need to advertise them clearly to students.
Students need to make their desire for a more eco-friendly campus part of their ministry, conserving the environment and embodying the meaning of carrying the call to the next generation.
While doing something as simple as throwing a bottle in a different bin or composting food may seem arbitrary, every effort produces real change in the lives of the community and individuals.
Being green and recycling can tangibly change people’s lives. Castro, in a heartwarming story, explained how recycling soda tabs helped pay for a little boy’s chemotherapy, allowing his low-income family to enjoy his presence for just a little longer.
As stewards of God, we are handed a responsibility to respect and conserve the great gift he has given to us. Each time you can’t quite finish a hot plate at the Caf, find yourself in possession of a few empty cans, or just feel like driving to class, consider the cliché: “What would Jesus do?”
Written by Zachary McGuirk and Mike Bowman