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One Size Does Not Fit All 

When speaking about environmental justice in my role with A Rocha Canada I am often asked: “But what can I do?”

There are so many answers to that question and much of it depends on where you live, how you live, and what is happening in your neighbourhood. It is tempting to hand out a checklist on how to be a better steward so we can check all the boxes and be done with it. But there are several problems with this approach, which is why I hesitate to be too quick to hand out a checklist.

It is tempting to hand out a checklist

First -  not every solution works in every community at any time. I live in a small remote community in northern Canada surrounded by forests and rivers. One item that could be on a “eco-friendly checklist” is to build our house out of straw bales. While this works in a place like the prairies where straw is plentiful, shipping the straw to my town might be a greater impact than using the wood that is abundant all around us.

And while recycling might sound like one of the  most important green activities, it makes little sense to pump hordes of CO2 into the atmosphere to ship our recycling to a major centre when the garbage from 3,000 people in an area of thousands of square miles of “wild” land can be buried in a landfill with less impact. It does not mean that these activities are not good activities, but we need to be careful about judging each other’s “eco-actions” before understanding the context.

We need to be careful about judging each other’s “eco-actions” before understanding the context

Second - Once we get to the end of a checklist, we could be tempted to feel like we’re done, and we can move on to the next cause or activity. But, as Peter Harris, founder of A Rocha Canada, reminds us in his book Under the Bright Wings, creation care isn’t just a tack- on for those with a bent towards nature. – it is something we do every single day with every choice we make in how we live. It does not end.

Checklists have their place. Sometimes the same solution might be applicable, albeit for different reasons. One example is switching to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. In the small town of Houston in British Columbia, Canada where I live, our electricity comes from hydro power., One of the best renewable energy sources around. Admittedly it is not without impact – no energy is “free” —but  compared to other energy sources the impact is much lower once the dam or turbine it is already in place.

 So in our community the push should be to reduce our energy use and/or include solar and wind as alternate sources to reduce the need for another hydro dam. In other provinces, however, where coal is being used to generate energy, switching to solar and wind is a great way to curtail the heavy impacts of coal burning. And in Uganda where most people do not have any electricity in their homes solar and wind can help them skip the high impact energy sources all together and bring light and energy to their homes.

This is why I do hand out a checklist during my workshops. Not to encourage us to become an eco-pharisee (“do this and thou shalt be deemed a good steward”) but to expand our minds and help us see some of the possibilities.

Let’s get into the habit of asking: ”What would Jesus have me do next?”

But more importantly, let’s get into the habit of asking ourselves: ”What would Jesus have me do next?” This does several things. It gives us the opportunity to celebrate what we are already doing-- (we can’t know what to do next until we know where we are now). It allows the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as we live and breathe within this good creation. It opens discussion to explore what is most relevant in your place and time. And it reminds us that the journey is a “long obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson) not a final arriving point.

With this approach I have learned to do more than I ever thought I was able to. I know you can too.


If you would like to see the checklist Cindy uses during her workshops go here ( If you would like to book a workshop, please contact her at


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