Recycling, Waste & Litter Reduction
“When they were filled, [Jesus] said unto his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” John 6:12, 13
In the teachings of Jesus Christ, we find a clear directive to minimize waste, embodied in the account of the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes. After satisfying the hunger of thousands, Jesus instructed His disciples in John 6: “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” Thus, they filled twelve baskets with leftovers, highlighting the principle of utilizing resources to their full extent.
At the 2012 Sunstone Symposium, Rachel Mabey Whipple pointed out the disparity between our consumer-driven, disposable culture and the environmental values endorsed by our doctrine. She reminds us, “Mormon doctrine and history align us more closely with environmental values than with consumer demands,” underscoring the importance of mindfulness in our consumption patterns.
President Ezra Taft Benson emphasized our role as stewards of the earth, cautioning us about the impending challenges of environmental degradation. He urged, “You are among those who must undertake the task of alerting mankind to problems with regard to his physical environment…If we are merely transients in an unexplainable world, we will act more like tourists than residents! Men born into this planet are stewards,” reminding us of our responsibility to care for our shared home.
“Mormon doctrine and history align us more closely with environmental values than with consumer demands.” – Rachel Mabey Whipple
Brigham Young, in his teachings, urged gratitude and responsible use of God’s gifts. He asserted, “All that we possess and enjoy are the gifts of God to us…we are accountable to Him for the use we make of these precious gifts…It is not our privilege to waste the Lord’s substance upon the lusts of the flesh…”. In this call to gratitude and stewardship, we find further reinforcement of our divine mandate to reduce waste and conserve resources.
Building upon these teachings, we are guided to adopt recycling and waste reduction in our lives, not only as an environmentally conscious practice but as an integral part of our faith. These practices represent a tangible commitment to the scriptural injunctions to steward the earth and its resources responsibly, thus ensuring their availability for future generations.
Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance Position
The Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance firmly advocates for the curtailment of waste and the minimization of litter within our communities. We earnestly urge everyone to strive towards reducing their waste and keeping their surroundings free from litter. This principle, deeply embedded in our Church’s teachings, emphasizes our responsibility to treat God’s bountiful gifts with respect. Overconsumption and the resultant waste stand in stark contrast to the reverence we ought to show for our Earthly home, entrusted to us by God.
As conscientious stewards of Earth, it falls upon us to inspire our communities to adopt diverse waste reduction strategies. By doing so, we lay the groundwork for a circular economy, marked by reuse and recycling, and build cleaner, more sustainable communities. Instead of succumbing to the lure of disposable items, we should embrace items that can be used until their full lifespan, reinforcing our commitment to stewardship and reducing waste.
The Lord’s generosity has bestowed us with countless blessings, and He instructs us not to squander these gifts. The story of the Israelites receiving manna from heaven serves as a reminder – they were instructed to gather just enough for their needs. This ancient wisdom should guide our actions today, cautioning us against hoarding and overuse of God’s gracious gifts. It is within our power to transform our homes and communities, standing against a consumerist culture that distances us from our divine calling.
What Can You Do?
- Coordinate a Community Recycling Initiative: Galvanize your neighbors to participate in a recycling drive aimed at managing waste more effectively.
- Lobby Local Government for Sustainable Waste Policies: Engage with local authorities to advocate for sustainable waste management policies, including initiatives to minimize single-use plastic consumption.
- Launch a Glass Recycling Program: Start a dedicated program for recycling glass within your community to further enhance your waste management efforts.
- Support Legislation for Extended Producer Responsibility: Rally behind legislative efforts that hold producers accountable for the environmental impacts of their products, from creation to disposal.
- Educate Your Community about Zero-Waste Living: Conduct educational programs and workshops to share knowledge and inspire your community to adopt zero-waste lifestyles.
- Collaborate with Local Schools: Work with local educational institutions to introduce waste management and recycling programs, instilling these values in the younger generation.
- Advocate for Public Recycling Bins: Request local authorities to install public recycling bins in community parks, streets, and other public places to make recycling accessible for everyone.
- Initiate a Neighborhood Composting Project: Inspire your community to convert kitchen and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost for their plants.
- Host Town Hall Meetings: Organize regular town hall meetings to discuss community efforts towards waste reduction, recycling policies, and how to overcome challenges.
- Rachael Lauritzen | Climate Chats with the Board | MESA Podcast
- John 6:12-13
- Rachel Mabey Whipple, “Practicing Stewardship in a Consumer Culture” Sunstone 167, 25 June 2012
- Ezra Taft Benson in “Kindness to Animals and Caring For the Earth“, compiled by Richard D. Stratton (Portland, OR: Inkwater Press, 2004), 16-17.
- Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1867),
- EPA: Reducing Waste, What Can You Do?
- Going Zero Waste
- Ellen McArthur Foundation, What is a Circular Economy
- Glass Recycling Coalition