Should families Go Green for Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday and many families will begin their Lenten journey by giving up meat and usually something else.

Often times folks choose to give up things like chocolate, French fries or a bad habit.

It seemed for a while when I was in college it was more in vogue to do something for Lent (like charity work) as opposed to giving something up.

But now I am hearing a drumbeat for giving up things for Lent that will help the planet. Even the leaders of the Church of England are getting involved calling for a “Carbon Fast.”

From the Telegraph UK:

“Senior bishops are calling for a cut in personal carbon use for each of the 40 days of Lent. Their list of ways to achieve this includes eating less meat, flushing the toilet less often and cutting vegetables thinner so they cook faster.”

“But one of their tougher challenges is to give up technology such as television, mobiles and iPods for one day. The “Carbon Fast” , organised every year by development agency Tearfund, even suggests giving up technology for a day every month of the year and giving the money to charity.”

“The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, said giving up technology would help people to think of others less fortunate than themselves.”

” ‘Lent is a period when we should look at how we live our lives,’ he said. ‘Giving up chocolate is a symbol of that but giving up technology is a more serious way of looking at the issues that face us as a global community. It is a statement [of solidarity] with a world that does not have that ability to communicate the way we can and a reminder to us that perhaps we may have got beyond ourselves in terms of our own consumption of technology. We have galloped forward so fast maybe we have out-run our global responsibility in doing that.’

While some may scoff at a “Carbon Fast,” the traditional giving up of meat actually does help the environment. You hear all the time that if families cut meat from their diets even just once a week they would reduce methane in the world, which would in turn help global warming. Also eating less meat would reduce the space needed for the animals and could in theory allow it to return to vegetation which would help reduce greenhouse gases.

Here are two stories with stats on that:

Guardian UK.

Newscientist.com

Other sites are listing other environmental choices for things you can give up. Here’s another list from thedailygreen.com: 9 things you can give up to help the Earth

So lots of questions today:

Will your family give up something for Lent?

Are you giving up something Lent?

Will you ask your children to give up something for Lent?

At what age do you require your kids to give up meat or something else for Lent?

Do you ask the kids to not eat meat as well on Fridays? (The Catholic Church doesn’t require kids to give up meat until they are 14.)

How do you feel about Going Green for Lent and giving up something that will help the environment as opposed to French fries or chocolate?

Will you participate in the “Carbon Fast?”

What do you think of the reasoning this it help us think our or less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world, as well as use less energy and save money?

Editor’s Note:

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Last week, the state announced that several schools in Georgia are suspected of tampering with answers on the state’s CRCT. While the schools flagged in the investigation have come under scrutiny, the students are arguably the ones impacted most. We’d like to tell their story. If you are a parent who believes that your child may have been affected by suspicious scores and you’re willing to talk with a reporter at the AJC, please contact Gracie Staples at gstaples@ajc.com or Kristina Torres at ktorres@ajc.com.


122 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
9:59 am

If I had to choose the hardest thing for me to give up, that would be a tie between coffee and sweat tea.

I could give up TV and I do not have an IPOD but I could not give up the computer or my cell phone as they are the links to my business and thus I would not be able to pay my bills.

Photius

February 17th, 2010
10:04 am

Lent is primarily participated by Catholics, Orthodox and Episcopalians. Orthodox Lent started Monday – Catholic’s begin Lent today. The omition and what should have been mentioned was the purpose of Lent – self-denial/almsgiving/increased prayer/turn off the world and focus on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in preparation for Holy Week. All religious leaders will say with regards to fasting the primary purpose is self denial and it should never be focused on weight loss – of helping the environment for that matter. Perhaps some more reading on Great Lent and the reason why this tradition has endured for 2,000 years might be in order???

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
10:06 am

ooops…sweet tea and not sweat tea…yuck!

Robert

February 17th, 2010
10:12 am

I think I’m going to give up reading online blogs.

Wayne

February 17th, 2010
10:13 am

I was gonna say MJG… I know things are different in GA, but holy crow!

cld

February 17th, 2010
10:17 am

My son is only one and my husband is Baptist, so I’m the only Lent observer in my house. (Some years, DH joins me in giving up something, but I don’t think he is this year.) This year, I am doing something to better myself, rather than “giving up” something. I could give up alcohol, but that consumption has dropped to a couple drinks a month now that I’m training for the ING. I could give up coffee (two cups a day), but that isn’t feasible right now, between DH’s schedule and my training. I eat little chocolate, ice cream, cake, cookies, etc – and drink almost no soda. I don’t eat fried foods or pizza more than once a month anyway. I maybe get 30 minutes per night of TV/computer time, in addition to 30 minutes of morning news during my pre-work treadmill time. So instead, I’m deciding to do one kind act for someone else each day. That may sound silly, but I’m a recluse so it will be a challenge.

I couldn’t give up my laptop or cell phone because I use them to work. I could give up the TV, but we use it so little already . . . (see above). I hope to cut down on my emissions by driving to the office less, but that’s completely unrelated to Lent.

Like NY resolutions, I have a hard time coming up with things to do for Lent, because I try to make improvements in my life as I go – rather than waiting for arbitrary “start” dates.

TechMom

February 17th, 2010
10:21 am

Our church (United Methodist) teaches about Lent and some people observe it by giving something up though we usually don’t. I probably wouldn’t be inclined to give up technology as I work in front of a computer all day though I regularly try to avoid my laptop on the weekends (as long as I have my iPhone anyway- haha!). I have to get my taxes done at some point which will mean me & Turbo Tax get to spend lots of time together too. Of course the Brits are already much more eco-aware than we so we Americans would probably be better off focusing on not driving a day or two instead of giving up electronics.

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
10:28 am

@ Wayne….LOL. I was mentioning something you said yesterday, about churches drying up, at the dinner table last night.

My daughter LOVES Boston and would really love to move there ( not on my radar) . We have visited 2 times and plan to go again this summer. Anyway, she says “why is he even interested in that blog?” I told her that you learn things about the south. No, I do not drink SWEAT tea.

@ Robert….there are thousands that would perhaps agree…if every comment made were similar to the profound statement you contributed today….it is true that many here would not waste their time….:). Some of us just enjoy random comments about most anything. I even learn stuff too!

Wayne

February 17th, 2010
10:35 am

Boston is a very cool town. So much to see and do, and it’s a great walking town. Have you been on a Duck Tour yet? If not, I’d suggest it. I live in Western Mass., but go to Boston occasionally (my older son has a couple of doctors still at Children’s Hospital). When we go, we try to make a day of it. Science Museum, Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, colleges, etc. Nice place.

DB

February 17th, 2010
10:39 am

I’m afraid I have to disagree with the Bishop of Oxford: “giving up technology is a more serious way of looking at the issues that face us as a global community. It is a statement [of solidarity] with a world that does not have that ability to communicate the way we can and a reminder to us that perhaps we may have got beyond ourselves in terms of our own consumption of technology.”

I don’t see how giving up technology for Lent proclaims solidarity for those that don’t have access to technology. “Getting beyond ourselves” loses sight of the fact that technology is a TOOL, not a means to an end. We only get beyond ourselves when we forget that.

I’m going to an Ash Wednesday service this evening. My kids are at the point where I don’t insist on anything when it comes to church, and even if I tried, they are 100 and 300 miles away, respectively :-) We only went to a couple of Ash Wednesday services when they were growing up — I insisted on going to one after we had attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans one year, simply to illustrate the contrast.

I’m giving up soft drinks (specifically, Diet Coke) for Lent — it will be A Good Thing, once I get past the caffeine headaches and cravings. but those who know me well will probably avoid me for a couple of days, since I practically mainline the stuff!

And since I, personally, think the whole “carbon credits” and associated hoohie is pretty much P.C. b.s., no, I won’t be drinking from that particular Kool-Aid jug.

Jeff

February 17th, 2010
10:41 am

I was going to give up lent for women. Wait, it was the other way around. But then I realized women beat me to it. :)

Seriously, I’m no huge fan of the green movement. I do what is reasonable, but I’ve also learned the front edge of the green movement is a bit wacky.

I chose not to give up anything for lent for the same reason I don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. Implying that I need to change behavior for a particular date means that my behavior the rest of the year is substandard and that is not my goal in life.

cld

February 17th, 2010
10:42 am

@DB – Good luck! I gave up soda several (10? 12?) years ago for Lent. By Easter, my stomach no longer could handle the carbonation. I now drink MAYBE 8 oz. of soda per month. Any more than 6-8 oz. at a time, and I feel bloated!

YUKI

February 17th, 2010
10:53 am

No longer a practicing Catholic, but I think it’s pretty funny how some of them “sacrifice” by not eating meat but instead go out and eat a huge seafood platter!!! When I was a child I would give things up, but hardly ever actually stuck to it. It’s a nice concept if you can actually do it, though. As far as the green thing goes, eehhh……not really into it.

Dar

February 17th, 2010
10:56 am

For Lent, I think I will give up humoring people who get all militant about eco-issues and just walk away when they start to spew or perhaps shove a cork in their pieholes to save the world from their hot air. I have been a vegetarian (nearly vegan except I like some cheese now and again) for nearly 30 years, gave up alcohol 22 months ago today and quit what was left of my smoking habit (a handful a day) at the end of 2009 — not much left to deny myself. But definitely “no” to this eco stuff. My weakness is muscle cars that get about 15MPG and I am not giving up either of them….

Jeff

February 17th, 2010
10:59 am

Way to go Dar.

Michelle

February 17th, 2010
11:01 am

I am not Catholic, so I do not observe Lent. So, I will most likely continue my bad habits and self indulgence! LOL! Maybe I can convince the kids that they should give up TV for Lent?! Maybe it’s worth a try!

I think the carbon footprint should not be “given up” for lent. If this is something that someone feels strongly about, they should do it all the time, not just for 40 days! It should be a lifestyle change!

Wayne-I haven’t been any farther than Washington, D.C. on the east coast (except Baltimore, but it was during a hurricane so I don’t really count it!) I would love to see it sometime! I hear a lot of wonderful things!

MJG-If they ever start making sweat tea, I’m outta here! Typically I notice almost all typos…I didn’t even catch that one! It must be a slow day for me! :o)

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
11:11 am

@ Michelle..I have mentioned to DB that you would like to have lunch with us. Looks like she may have to join me on the sweet tea, as she is giving up Diet Coke.

You should try to take a trip up the eastern seaboard….especially in the fall….GORGEOUS!
I am crossing my fingers to solidify a job in Maine then.

I know that I have mentioned this before ( lots of times) I only have one state left to visit and that is Montana… I just got an e-mail from a group that is trying to work out a date for June…..wish me luck…or not….lol.

A

February 17th, 2010
11:13 am

How about going green all year long? Why does it have to be for Lent only. Not everyone observes the lenten season, but I’m sure most people would get on board with making changes to their daily lives to more positively impact the environment.

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:14 am

Im not Catholic and Ive given way to much up this last year…. :)

A

February 17th, 2010
11:14 am

@Yuki–totally agree about people giving up meat but then going to a fish fry or something. Don’t people know that seafood is meat?

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:15 am

motherjanegoose hey woman hope the world is fine for you :).. where is our buddy fcm?

Wounded Warrior

February 17th, 2010
11:15 am

We all enjoy nice juicy steaks and hamburgers on Fridays, and we are not giving anything up for Lent or any other time. We do recycle clothes by giving to charity, and also shopping in thrift shops for them. We do what we are able to everyday, limited by budget constraints.

Married a mean Catholic, and the Church didn’t help me when he was hitting me. All they said was “what did you do to make him mad?”. I was raised Baptist, and my girls are also being raised that way. I know that not all Catholics are mean or that way. It was not a church here in GA, but another state.

His family expected me to give up eating meat during Lent, when I was 30 weeks prego. I didn’t do it then, not going to do it now.

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:17 am

Dar I was thinking about you yesterday.. now do eat ‘animal crackers’ ?? :)

Dar

February 17th, 2010
11:19 am

A quick death followed by composting of the corpse after donating all organs is perhaps the most eco-friendly thing one can do. I Have suggested it a time or two to militant eco-bots and they do not seem inclined to make the sacrifice. Pretty selfish of them if you ask me.

Dar

February 17th, 2010
11:23 am

Hi, Julia. Hope you are well. Thanks for thinking of me. I lack a sweet-tooth so that would be a negative on the animal cookies/crackers (but I laughed cuz I know what you are getting at). Since I was about 10 (OMG, I just admitted my age) I have been meat, fish, egg and milk-free…except some cheese. And it wasn’t truly an eco choice, I just had an epiphany as a child about not killing and eating animals and stopped….I never liked eggs or milk to begin with so they were dropped as well. I do wear leather shoes (mom always said plastic was bad for your feet) so I am apparently a hypocrite as well as a vegetarian.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 17th, 2010
11:24 am

I’m giving up brussel sprouts…which is ok with me because I don’t like brussel sprouts, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked them I’d eat them, and I just hate them.

On Friday I’ll probably have a Fatburger and copious amounts of crown and coke.

cld

February 17th, 2010
11:30 am

@ Wounded Warrior – Pregnant women actually are not required to observe Lenten fasting. And if I recall correctly, nursing mothers also are not held to it. (I am a practicing Catholic but did not observe the fasting for the two years when I was pregnant and nursing.) I am very sorry about your situation and I do know that the Catholic Church’s official stance is no divorce, regardless. But I do believe there are many Catholics who would not push an abused spouse to continue the marriage, nor push a pregnant woman to fast.

Wounded Warrior

February 17th, 2010
11:31 am

This environmental global warming is a hoax. Last Friday, we had snow in 49 states, with Hawaii being w/o snow. Al Gore hasn’t been seen since this record snowfall began. He is making himself very rich.

About some animals, I believe they are here to eat.

I saw sooooooo much waste in the military, equip, time, and money.

motherjanegoose

February 17th, 2010
11:33 am

@ tiger…that’s it….I LOVE fresh brussel sprouts…we had fresh asparagus last night. sorry but you have dipped down on the list of those on this blog I really like….LOL. Instead of number 5 or 6…you are hovering in the 10 range. Try not to let it ruin your day.

@ Julia…FCM is in and out. You may not see her for a while…probably more true since I mentioned my rant about Montana and she is not crazy about me telling all the places where I have been or will be heading to. She will be back, as she brings insight and interest to the blog. She knows some of the most obscure things…it is amazing.

Wounded Warrior

February 17th, 2010
11:38 am

@cld, thanks. I know his family was crazy. He was adopted, so his family had no clue as to what it was like to be prego. I am still looking for my kids’ paternal grandma.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 17th, 2010
11:38 am

@MJG….we’ve got a better chance of seeing eye to eye on religion that we ever do on agreeing on Brussel Sprouts!

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:42 am

Tiger, can I have your brussell sprouts? Gosh I love those things :)….

Dar yea that was pretty funny… My dad was Cherokee Indian so I always heard that a vegetarian was a bad hunter :)

MJG, the boy and I have been sick, he got a sinus infection, gave it to me, I gave it back and then he got pneumonia… I have also seemed to attract a pansy arss idiot stalker on here that is tooo much a coward to be a real person and wants to annoy me :)
But life is good :)

Wayne

February 17th, 2010
11:42 am

I’m with you Tiger – no brussel sprouts for me. Question for you though… Have you read any of Douglas Adam’s books? Your brussel sprouts post reminds me a bit of how he writes.

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:43 am

Yea Tiger I think that was THE LAST STRAW, I want a divorce…. how can you not like those lil yummy things :)

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:44 am

WW, what were they thinking of going toe to toe with a very uncomfortable very pregnant woman?? :)

HB

February 17th, 2010
11:45 am

I think finding a green way of observing Lent is great. Choosing to do so doesn’t imply that going green is for Lent only, though. For many people, giving up something for Lent means giving up something they know should cut back on anyway (meat, diet Coke, sweets, TV watching, getting too absorbed in technology), but they just haven’t, or maybe have for a few days here and there but didn’t stick with it because, hey, we’re not perfect. Lent provides a concrete, extended period of time to stick with a sacrifice, but by the end of 40 days, it may no longer feel like a sacrifice and become part of a lifestyle change, even if that means bringing that thing back into your life in moderation rather than giving it up for good. You have to start somewhere, right?

I live fairly green, so off-hand I can’t think of something specific to give up along those lines. I’ve been a slug lately due to an ankle injury and an abundance of unshovelled sidewalks (walking long distances has always been my main exercise), so I think I’m going to make a point to exercise as best I can each and everyday, no excuses. I can at least get off my butt and do some sit-ups and push-ups every night.

And Boston rocks! I miss living in that area.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 17th, 2010
11:47 am

@Wayne…not familiar with his works…for the record, that little tidbit about brussel sprouts was just me channeling my hero Clarence Darrow. Guess I should give him the credit.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 17th, 2010
11:48 am

@Julia…..you’ve found something I won’t argue with you over….I’ll send every brussel sprout that I pass by. Those things are AWFUL!

TechMom

February 17th, 2010
11:52 am

Off topic but I just saw the headline of the mom from Brunswick that killed her 4-year old daughter, attempted to kill her 2-year old son and then killed herself. I just don’t understand why this type of headline is becoming more and more regular. I thought the mom on the US Airways Flight was a nut-job but nothing compares to this. That poor little boy. I can’t imagine the kind of outlook on life he’ll have when he finds out what his mother did.

HB

February 17th, 2010
11:52 am

Would never give up Brussels sprouts…in fact, I think I’ll cook some up with quinoa for dinner tonight. Yum!

DB

February 17th, 2010
11:53 am

Brussel sprouts?!?! GAGGGGG!!! I guess I’ve slipped down, too, MJG — I absolutely get nauseous when faced with those disgusting little gobs of miniature cabbage. My mother used to buy them, and when her back was turned, I would sneak them out of the fridge and bury them in the trash. One night I wasn’t quick enough, and spent four hours at the table — she was determined I would eat, and I was equally determined that those things weren’t coming near my mouth. I fell asleep at the table.

I went to a dinner party a couple of years ago and the hostess proudly brought out brussel sprouts that she had prepared. My husband took a quick look at me and grinned, knowing my aversion. I politely took one, cut it up into little pieces, and shoved it around the plate a bit. But just the smell — ugh. Ruined the dinner.

We all have our phobias :-) But I love asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, etc. Not big in to the cooked leafy green stuff, but fresh is fine — i.e., cooked cabbage is disgusting (saurkraut? ICKKK!), but cole slaw is delicious!

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:53 am

hey tiger, do you have a secondary email account?? I really need to tell you something and no I dont want to get it launched here…..

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:55 am

TechMom there were 4 articles in the paper last night about different ones

Julia

February 17th, 2010
11:56 am

Fresh sprouts quick boiled, cut in half, seasoned then roasted in the oven.. YUM!!!

Becky

February 17th, 2010
11:59 am

@MJG..I’m just the opposite, I could give up sweet tea without a problem..I drink it, just not that much since surgery a few years back..

@Tiger..No brussel sprouts? I love them, but you can have all of my mushrooms..

Julia

February 17th, 2010
12:00 pm

I dont like beets or radishes… yuck!!

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 17th, 2010
12:00 pm

@Julia…sorry, but only have the one email account.

Julia

February 17th, 2010
12:03 pm

I have like 4 now… one I dont care who gets it.. then some I dont even give out :) the one that is tied to my face book is not one that is attached to my name at all, I also have that thing locked down to were that does not show on my info page

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 17th, 2010
12:04 pm

@DB…I knew brussel sprouts were no good when my mom used to serve them and I’d try to give them to my dog and he wouldn’t even eat them.

@Becky…I’ll take the mushrooms…

Oh…and anyone who wants my peas, go nuts, because those run a close second behind brussel sprouts on the evil scale!

Where’s Lakerat today, I’m ready for my lecture on not staying on topic…followed promptly by her contribution to an equally off topic issue! *GASP*…I’m so catty…look what influence you ladies have on me!

Wayne

February 17th, 2010
12:04 pm

Douglas Adams wrote HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Cabbage, leafy greens and Brussel Sprouts. Nope, can’t do it.

Asparagus, I can do as long as it’s fresh.