Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waste Away

Interesting news coming out of Great Britain this past week. Seems the government is encouraging its citizens to stop wasting food in response to escalating prices. You can read about it here. There was another interesting story last week about what researchers in St. Louis theorize about longevity and calorie restriction. You can read that one here but the bottom line is that research suggests a link between longer life and reduced food intake. So one story casts food reduction in an economic light and the other saddles up to health benefits. These two stories went ding-ding-ding in my brain and sent me to scripture for some biblical perspective.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

This verse begins the summation of a section that deals with matters of conscience as it relates to activities that would cause someone to stumble, specifically the consumption of meat used in idol rituals. The point being here that meat in and of itself is not bad, but if there's the risk of tipping someone off the fence by taking in the vestiges of pagan living, the Christ follower should abstain. This is the Apostle Paul's writing and not surprisingly his bottom line on the subject of eating in drinking is to bring "glory" to God.

This made me think about the "glory" to God in being good stewards of His resources. It seems to me we dishonor God when we waste things like food because we are demonstrating, publicly and privately, a spirit of entitlement or lack of gratitude for God's gracious provisions. When the Christ follower wastes in public, where is the glory to God? When she wastes in private, where is the honor to God?

I remember being at an all-you-can-eat CiCi's Pizza buffet a couple years ago with a group of kids. The little boy ahead of me in line was maybe 10 years old. He proudly exclaimed, "Ten (slices) is my record!" As he began to pile slices of pizza on his plate, undoubtedly attempting to beat the record, I gently said: "I don't see how you can eat so much pizza! Why don't you just take a couple slices now and come back for more if you want to." He looked at me with those big, round, pleading kid eyes and said, "But I'm really hungry." I felt like I'd just stolen his bicycle, so I let it go. Then I watched the little guy take one or two bites off the tip of each slice, casting the balance of pizza on his tray. When he was done, he still had the equivalent of a perfect pan pizza on that tray, now contaminated and destined for a dumpster.

Not that we are any better, mind you. I discovered more than halfway through the school year that most of one of my children's school lunches was getting tossed in the trash. He was "starving" by the end of the day and one of his teachers was occasionally providing a nice snack. By my estimation, about 100 all-natural peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an assortment of green and orange vegetables and probably some heart-healthy Kashi products plopped into the municipal landfill bewteen September and early February. (To think I even used a crimper...)

We waste in other ways. A major waste factor in our house is failure to plan ahead. We'll often decide to go out to dinner even though there are left-overs in the fridge that need to be consumed. When I'm pulling outer leaves off lettuce or red cabbage, I will often thrown out the whole leaf instead of taking the time to trim the bad spots. I rarely save the kids' half eaten meals for later. Instead, I dump them in the trash. Same thing with the "to go" boxes we take home from restaurants. They usually languish in the fridge for a couple days and when I get sick of pulling them out to reach the pickles, I pitch them.

I'm totally out of touch with what lurks behind the green beans and noodle soup in my pantry. This weekend, I found a bunch of expired canned goods and boxed products that I simply failed to remember I had. Same thing with the freezer. The back of the bottom shelf looks like an underground crystal exhibit at Luray Caverns. I waste fuel by treating my trunk like it's across between a home office and baseball dugout, and by failing to strategically coordinate errand runs. We waste electricity when we leave TV's running and lights on. I waste water and energy when I wash items like pajamas that have only been worn once. I waste more energy when I keep cool air pouring through air vents in rooms we don't even use. I could go on and on reflecting upon the ways in which I fail to glorify God by wasting the resources He has so graciously afforded us.

The folks in Great Britain have inspired me to think about areas in which my family wastes resources and, perhaps, there's even a health benefit to being better stewards of God's gracious provisions.

On my iPod... Brian Regan Live... oh, my... beyond hilarious...

Photo by hipsxxheart; click here for restrictions: http://flickr.com/photos/hipsxxhearts/2244996809/.

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