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Recycling and Redemption: Making All Things New

The City of Valparaiso in the Panhandle of Florida, recently stopped their curbside recycling program.  Valparaiso now has recycling bins at City Hall and one of the area schools, but will people take the time to drive over to pick up their bins, or will they stop recycling?

Christians believe that this is our Father’s world. But can we truthfully say we are treating Earth like it is His?

The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. Genesis 2:15

After creating the world, God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it for Him.  (Gen. 2:15). As a descendant of Adam, I may not live in the Garden of Eden, but I still reside in God’s world; it is my job to take care of His creation.

It is unrealistic to think that any one of us alone can save the whales or the rain forests.  That does not mean, however, that there are not meaningful actions we can each take to show our commitment to caring for God’s green Earth. What we can each do without training, a great investment of money, or a huge commitment of time is to recycle. Face it. There is no one who does not throw something away every day. If you have waste, you can (and should) recycle.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, recycling not only reduces the amount of garbage, but it saves energy, water, resources (such as trees), and reduces pollution from manufacturing, landfills and incinerators.

Recycling is a process by which refuse materials can be changed into new materials; it prevents the waste of materials which may be useful. Typically one thinks of cans and newspapers as the waste materials that should be recycled. Nevertheless, glass, cardboard, electronics, and plastic may also be recycled. According to the National Resources Defense Council, recycling not only reduces the amount of garbage, but it saves energy, water, resources (such as trees), and reduces pollution from manufacturing, landfills and incinerators. Although Genesis did not mention recycling, it stands to reason that God would have wanted the Garden of Eden free from pollution, smelly landfills, and smoke from incinerators. The hand of God would certainly give recycling a thumbs up.

Four Things You Can Do

1. Find a Recycling Facility

So, recycling is a good thing, but how does one start? First, determine if your local area offers a recycling program. While no curbside recycling programs were in existence in
the U.S. back in 1973, over 8,500 such programs were in operation by 2006. If all you have to do is take your recyclables to the street for pickup, there is no excuse for not doing so. While some areas do not offer curbside pickup of recyclables, they may have drop off points where (good) citizens can turn in their collected recyclables. Sure this means a little effort to take the recyclables to a designated spot, but with a little thought the trip can be incorporated into errands already on your agenda.

2. Devise a Plan to Collect Recyclables

Second, devise a plan to collect the recyclables.  If your area has a pickup service, collection bins should be provided. If your area does not have a pickup service, you will need to use the brain God gave you to devise a system for collection at your house. I have a collection area set up in my utility room. An old plastic trashcan is used to collect cans. A garbage bag lines the can so it is easy to scoop up the bag to take to the recycling center. I collect plastics, cardboard, glass, etc. in brown paper grocery bags. And think outside the box, with the box being your house. If you are employed, you spend a significant portion of your waking hours at your job. If there is a collection point at your job site, use it. If there is not one, ask management if one could be established. In my office, I obtained permission to bring in an inexpensive wastebasket that employees could use to collect recyclables. When the wastebasket is full, I empty it into a plastic bag and take the bag home to add to my own recyclables.

3. Be Mindful of what Can Be Recycled

When you open a package or can, ask yourself whether it can be recycled.

Third, be mindful of what you are doing. Just as we are to pray without ceasing, we should act without ceasing to think. When you open a package or can, ask yourself whether it can be recycled. The key is the universal recycling symbol found on items which are recyclable.  I am amazed at the volume of materials my family is able to recycle; we turn collected items in several times a week. Recycling has reduced the amount of garbage we throw away by a significant amount. The flip side to this happy discovery is the ugly realization that there is a mountain of garbage being created on a daily basis when recycling is not practiced. The U.S. only recycles around one third of its waste. A much higher percentage could be achieved if we would only stop to think about what we are doing.

4. Get Motivated to Care for the Earth

Fourth, get motivated. When I was growing up, the only thing my family ever recycled was newspapers. And the only reason we did that was because my elementary school had a newspaper drive with a prize for the class that collected the most papers. With the right motivation, you would be surprised to find how diligent you can be about recycling. For positive motivation, consider how pleased God is to know you are taking care of the Earth with which He entrusted you. If negative motivation is more likely to spur you, consider how disappointed God would be if He did a “garden” inspection and reported how much of what is creating an eyesore in it is attributed to your waste.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

An added benefit to recycling is a spiritual lesson. God is the original recycler. No, He does not recycle aluminum cans or newspapers, but he does recycle humans. God takes us in our sinful condition and turns us into new creatures through Christ.  (2 Cor. 5:17)  He could have put us out on the street like yesterday’s garbage headed to the fiery incinerator of hell. Mercifully, He chose to allow us the opportunity to continue life in a new form. Every time you pick up a recyclable item, ask yourself:  “Would God see this is as garbage or as a new item in the rough?”

The international recycling symbol tells God’s recycling story; this symbol makes a circuit starting at the top, moving down, across and back to the top. In God’s recycling program, He reaches down to us through Jesus; Jesus’ blood washes over us and moves us in a new direction. As redeemed and new creations, we send our love and appreciation up to God. One way to express our love and appreciation is to take care of His Earth through recycling.  he Earth was good when He made it (Gen. 1:31); we need to recycle to keep our Father’s world in good condition for Him.


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