12 February 2020
A campaign launched by a group of four Christian denominations aims to change participants’ lifestyles by adopting one of six commitments to address climate change, for 40 days and then for life.
The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT), made up of the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, launched its first green Lent campaign in 2019 which resulted in many people changing lifestyle habits including flying less, reducing meat consumption and buying only second hand clothes.
Rachel Lampard, JPIT Team leader, said “The climate is already changing and together we must act to limit its impact. The campaign offers information about the effect of our everyday lives on the environment, alongside ideas for living more sustainable lives.
Living Lent sets the challenges within the Christian Lenten journey to Easter, offering daily prayers and reflections. We hope that the journey through Lent will enable people to reflect on both the personal lifestyle changes we need to make and the changes that we need from our society and government in order to care for God’s wonderful creation.”
For 2020 the Living Lent campaign sets six challenges from which to choose:
- Give up single use plastics. A plastic bottle takes around 450 years to biodegrade. With the UK using 7.7 billion plastic bottles per year, an average of 117 bottles per person, per year, this challenge to give up single use plastics is critically important. The campaign includes an online plastic use calculator and tips on how to cut down this waste.
- Go meat free. Lent is traditionally a time when people give up meat. We now know that animal products – beef, dairy and sheep in particular – have a greater impact on the climate than plant based alternatives. The challenge explores some of the evidence behind this and offers simple ways to reduce meat consumption.
- Commit to finding alternative modes of transport. Driving a car emits, on average, about 271 g CO2 per kilometre. Whereas, in total, riding a bike accounts for only about 21g of CO2 emissions per kilometre. Replacing car journeys with a cycling or public transport during Lent could have a dramatic impact on an individual’s carbon footprint. If cycling is not possible, people are encouraged to look to public transport, car sharing or other ways of reducing energy consumption.
- Reduce electricity use by 10%. More than 25% of our carbon footprint is made up of domestic energy use. From installing smart metres to unplugging electronics that are simply wasting power on standby, there are many tips on how to reduce electricity use.
- Live locally. The average number of miles that our food travels has doubled over the last 30 years. Food transport accounts for one quarter of all heavy-goods vehicle miles in the UK, and estimates of the carbon emissions caused by food transportation range from 1.8% to 3.5% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. It’s estimated that buying food originating from within a 20km radius would save over £2 billion in fuel and environmental costs per year.
- Buy nothing new. New items may well be cheap but they often come with a huge environmental cost. The energy needed to produce a single T-shirt would keep a home going for 2-3 days. A single kilogram of cotton takes around 20,000 litres of water to grow yet we dispose of around 300,000 tonnes of clothing in the UK each year. Making our clothes last longer, swapping and buying second hand could substantially reduce our impact on the environment,
Rachel Lampard commented: “Living Lent will appeal to people of all faiths and none who want to change their lifestyles to help the planet.
“We hear about how climate change is causing anxiety and depression in some people, especially the young. Often it feels overwhelming and the solution is beyond us as individuals. Living Lent helps participants explore how damaging our consumerist habits are, but that we can adopt a fresh new approach, starting with Lent and then perhaps for life.
My family took part in Living Lent 2019, and since then we have changed what we eat and how we travel. My children have also joined green campaigning groups in their schools working for wider change in the community.
“For Christians, Lent is a time of prayer, reflection and preparation. I hope that Living Lent 2020 will enable people to reflect on changes they can make during this period of Lent – and beyond.
More about the Living Lent community is here.
Daily reflections and tips are available through sign up here.
A special episode of Faith in Politics, the JPIT Podcast, has been produced for Living Lent. Listen to an interview with Rachel Lampard, hear a monthly musing about the environment, hear discussions around environmental news and find out what challenge the JPIT team are taking on for Lent.
More about JPIT here.