Chop Sticks and Straws

I was given a gift. Steel chop sticks of great quality. Travis Kwee, a sustainability advocate, gifted these chop sticks to me.

Travis is woke for the environment. He lives with a conscious awareness of how everything is connected to sustainability. He considers the big and small things we do that positively or negatively impact our global home. Travis has incorporated some small measures into his everyday rhythm - he carries around pint glasses, along with metal straws, chop sticks, and I am sure other sustainability tools. Before he leaves his room or campus he wonders what he might bring in order to reduce his waste impact. At first I was intrigued by his passion, but my intrigue was more admiration than any desire to emulate. But over the last few weeks of ZERO WASTE TAPIOCA TUESDAY outings, let’s just say that his passion has awakened me like a breath of recycled air.

Theological Aside (if you aren’t interested in a theological defense of environmentalism, feel free to skip):

Some of you may think I’ve drunk some liberal environmental kool-aid. Actually, I am a Christian and I think I am responding to a commandment of God to be stewards of the earth. We were not meant to just live on earth, but with the earth, dependent on the very dust from which we were made.  Richard Bauckham, in The Bible and Ecology, says that in the Biblical meta-narrative the world is not just a stage for the human-divine drama, but the story has “at least three key participants”: God, human creatures, and non-human creatures (Richard Bauckham, The Bible and Ecology, 145). The Psalmist says that all the earth bows down to [God]; they sing praise to [God], and that the earth will rejoice, the field will exult, and the trees will sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming (Psalm 96:11-12).  I consider it good that we desire the seas to roar and the trees to sing without litter chocking them.

Finally, I also have a big view of what Jesus accomplished in his resurrection. He not only rescues people from despair through unmerited forgiveness, I believe he also restores the entire cosmos, and He has called us to join Him in “reconciling the world (kosmos) to Himself” (Bauckham, 175). Christianity is radically concerned with the redemption of this world, not a simple escapist mentality where we run off to heaven. I have written a 5-page essay on Bauckham’s book that I am glad to send anyone else who would like more information.

I recently added a metal tapioca straw and a pair of metal chop sticks to my fifth pocket. Today was the first time I refused to vend a disposable plastic spoon and instead ate my gumbo, peas, and green beans with chop sticks. Two things happened – one – the chop sticks slowed me down, and I didn’t eat as much. Two – I remembered how much waste I produce on a daily basis, and how little thought I put into every straw, cup, and plastic utensil that I throw away. Now do I think I will change the world through using metal chop sticks? I have no illusions of the miniscule impact I am actually making – regardless – I am taking steps to be more conscious of what I believe is a divine command.

The charity I am supporting in this post today is onelessstraw.org. Take the pledge. Everyday 500 million straws are used. That’s 46,400 buses of straws a year. That's a lot for a small luxury. 

Travis Kwee has reminded me to leave behind less trash but more stories. The Fifth Pocket is a minor actor in this place, but where else could I store my chop sticks? My four other pockets or backpack just won’t cut it.