As we seek to incarnate the gospel among people who are struggling with questions like these, it becomes necessary to include creation care in our ministries. This can range from addressing big picture issues like climate change right down to asking what can be done to bring a touch of heaven to a local environment.
Here in Cambodia, we have been addressing the issue of plastic waste. A rapid increase in the use of single-use plastic means that there has been a corresponding increase in plastic waste. Although some of it can be recycled, plastic production is exceeding demand for recycled plastic and the price paid for used plastic is so low that much is not recycled and is burned or dumped instead.
We have been using social media to encourage people to think about the consequences of single-use plastic and to consider alternatives. One area of focus has been bottled water. With a growing economy and a desire for convenience, bottled water has become very popular. Unfortunately the empty bottles are a significant part of the plastic that is being burned or littering our environment. In thirty minutes on a local mountain, we collected and photographed 365 discarded bottles. The amount produced by just one person buying one a day for a year.
We have had opportunities to give out reusable bottles to students and football teams and to speak with them about the financial and environmental benefits of reuse rather than single use. We also use this as a platform to speak of the God who created a good world for us to delight in and gives us the responsibility of caring for it. So far, it’s small beginnings, and we have had several setbacks and disappointments, but we are seeing people beginning to catch the vision for transformation.