Burning palm cross and ashes

Carbon fast for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Lent is a period of fasting for Christians, as they prepare for Easter. I feel it’s appropriate that (part of) my way of observing Lent this year is to go further with my efforts to reduce my carbon footprint.

Many people give something up for Lent – often food or drink related. This may be a primarily a spiritual thing – denying oneself something to help one focus on Jesus. It may also have other benefits – a healthier diet and/or saving money (that could then be given to charity). A carbon fast has these benefits, but it also links with the idea of repentance (turning away from sin – in this case the selfish consumerism that damages creation and leaves the poorest to suffer the effects of climate change). There’s also something  appropriate in reducing my carbon footprint during the season that starts with ashes.

Burning palm cross and ashes
Burning palm cross and ashes

There are loads of things we can do to reduce our carbon footprints, and it can seem overwhelmingly complicated at times. If you want the quick version, the three most important things we can do, as individuals, to reduce our carbon footprint are:

  1. Switch to 100% renewable electricity (and reduce how much electricity we use)
  2. Fly less
  3. Eat less meat (and dairy, sadly)

Lowering the carbon footprint of my diet was one of my new year’s resolutions, and I’ve been trying hard to stick to it, with moderate success. But I’ve found it surprisingly difficult – food manufacturers don’t display carbon emissions next to calorie counts. I work in central London, and, on my less organised days, buy my lunch from one of the myriad of sandwich shops near my office. But they provide very little information on where their food comes from, and I’ve been shocked by how few non-dairy vegetarian (or vegan) options there are. Still, this Lent, I’m going to try even harder.



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