Carbon Fast for Lent

Lent is a time of repentance and fasting, of turning away from all that is counter to God’s will and purposes for his world and all who live in it. This year, I invite you to focus your Lenten ‘acts of love and sacrifice’ (of which our Ash Wednesday speaks) on our contribution to climate change, and those most impacted by it.

Often we give something up, such as chocolate or alcohol. This year, focus your giving up (or making changes to your lifestyle), to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’ – your total impact of environmentally damaging greenhouse gas emissions, usually measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, hence the name.

A traditional Lenten observance is ‘Fish on Fridays’. Why not also have a ‘Meat-free Monday’ – or some other day, if on Mondays you usually eat Sunday’s leftovers? Did you know that ‘a kilogram of steak could be responsible for as many greenhouse gases as driving a car for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home’ (D Fanelli, New Scientist, 2007, 2613:15)?

We all need to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Below are suggestions to take you from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. Each week focusses on a different part of our carbon fast, encouraging us to live more simply, conserve water, cut down on electricity, and reduce our use of petrol.

Let us ‘return to the Lord with all our heart; leave the past in ashes and turn to God with tears and fasting, for he is slow to anger and ready to forgive’ (APB, p.164).

May God grant us all a blessed and holy Lent.

Archbishop Thabo Cape Town