by Miriam Bordonaro Master’s in Environmental Engineering | Germany 

I recall very well the first time I went to Africa. With some Ghanaian friends, I travelled through the country using local buses. I was once traveling on a bus packed with people and their belongings through Accra, when we passed a very poor quarter, then hills of garbage and lots of plastic. In that moment I realized the importance of my job. I am an environmental engineer. Most people have no idea what I do (more Christians take medical or social studies to directly help people). What we tend to forget is that not only people, but also our environment, need our help and care. But the Bible reminds us “… that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8:22. 

Why is it so important to take care of nature? Because God Himself is the first one who cares for nature, as we can read in the following sentences of E. G. White. 

“Through such mediums [the garden with its opening buds and blooming flowers] he may give them the most important lessons concerning the Creator, by opening before them the great book of nature, where the love of God is expressed in every tree and flower and blade of grass. He may impress upon their minds the fact that if God cares so much for the trees and flowers, He will care much more for the creatures formed in His image.” The Adventist Home, p. 223. 

“God has surrounded us with nature’s beautiful scenery to attract and interest the mind. It is His design that we should associate the glories of nature with His character. If we faithfully study the book of nature, we shall find it a fruitful source for contemplating the infinite love and power of God.” Acts of the Apostles, p. 144. 

How can we and our children take care of nature in practical ways? 

  1. Spend time in nature 

Next to the Bible, nature is to be our great lesson book.” Child Guidance, p. 45.
Nature is presented to us as something to study. To learn about it, we need to spend time in nature. Take walks in the woods, have a vegetable garden, observe birds and animals.
Mothers, let the little ones play in the open air; let them listen to the songs of the birds and learn the love of God expressed in His beautiful work. Teach them simple lessons from the book of nature and the things about them….” Child Guidance, p. 34. 

In nature you will find rest from the stress of a busy week on Sabbath afternoons. You will have time to meditate, and the children will calm down. Tell your boys and girls that, next to the Bible, nature is God’s second book. Enjoy sitting on a hill observing the landscape. Make time to listen to the rain and to feel the sunshine. 

  1. Grow a garden with your children 

I know that not everyone is blessed with land on which to grow a garden; if you are not, try at least to keep some pots in which you can grow some vegetables. Taking care of little plants, observing every day how they grow (or maybe do not grow), discovering what water, sun, and earth can, with God’s help, do, will teach us to be patient with God’s timing and give the children the needed lesson not to waste food. 

  1. Leave nature as you found it 

A good friend of mine, who has four grown children, told me how she taught them to take care of forests and natural parks. No one, she said, should ever guess you have been there. And do not throw out anything you brought with you. If you live in Europe, try even not to discard a banana peel (we do not have banana trees here in Europe; decomposition of the peels is not the same as in Africa or South America). If you find garbage thrown out by others, collect it with your children— using gloves, of course. In this way they will learn to respect the environment they are living in. 

  1. Reduce the use of plastic 

There is just one country I’ve been to that forbids the use of plastic bags, and this country is in Africa: it is Rwanda.  The moment you leave Rwanda for Uganda you notice the difference: in Uganda you find tiny black plastic bags everywhere. 

Plastic is a plague on our planet. About 50 billion bottles of plastic are disposed of every year, and plastic degrades in 500-1000 years. It breaks into tiny particles that float through the ocean and endanger marine life. There are several little things you can all do daily to reduce the use of plastic at home: 

Use textile bags. You can even sew your own in the shape your children like the most. These bags can be used every day, can be washed, and do not generate any garbage.   Use reusable water bottles on your trips into nature, at school, and at home. 

Reduce plastic garbage at home, avoiding the use of one-use only plastic plates and glasses. When you go shopping, try to buy unpackaged items as much as you can. 

Divide the at-home-produced garbage at least into paper, glass, and plastic. Children will learn to do so and will keep doing it when they are grown up. 

5. Recycle 

Nowadays many people think that everything has to be brand-new. It does not matter if it is a child’s dress, a toy, or furniture. When something breaks down, it is usually thought to have reached the end of its life. But, if possible, teach your children how to repair broken items. When they see that they have too many toys, ask which can be given away or sold. Go to second-hand shops with your children. Involve them in decorating your home with things picked up during walks at the seaside or in the mountains or in the woods. 

I recall that, as a child, I wore a lot of used clothing f rom other children. I did not feel poor because of this; I felt blessed, because I lacked nothing. Even now, as a grown woman, I trade used clothes with friends. We all say, why buy everything new? As long as it looks good and meets a need, I am glad I do not have to buy much of anything. 

The above practices will keep us far from overconsuming, wasting, and negatively impacting our planet, and the money we save can be used for helping those in need. 

by Miriam Bordonaro Master’s in Environmental Engineering | Germany 

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