7th March 2023 | Annemarthe Westerbeek | 2 comments

Taking hopeful steps toward less waste

Have you ever heard of the five Rs? Here they are: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. They are a useful model when you want to get started with fair and sustainable living. I use it like this – I say no to plastic bags and straws (Refuse). My phone is three years old and I will only replace it when it no longer works (Reduce). If I need something new, I look first to see if there is a second-hand option (Reuse). What I no longer use myself goes to the recycling or waste separation (Recycle) and then I end up with Rot. I collect my food waste and use it to make compost for my vegetable garden. 

For me, this method helps clean up my house and when (not) buying new stuff and shopping. It helps me, mostly, to live from a perspective of enough. But if I’m honest, it also helps me feel guilty on a regular basis because it shows me that I am not doing nearly enough.   

Models like the five R’s are often very helpful, especially if they point to small, manageable steps. But I also find them too focused on me and my actions. Because of that, I have added two more Rs: Rejoice and Restore. Living from wonder and hope – not in yourself but in Jesus – gives me the courage to keep taking steps. I rejoice (Rejoice) when I realize I don’t have to do it in my own strength alone. That is why I also added Restore. It is Jesus who will fully restore the world [1], so I can find peace in the things I do as participation in this restoration. And then I know that I may (perhaps should) also literally rest and may (again) marvel and enjoy that which he has made wonderful.   

For me, these additions are essential. As a result, any steps I take reflect my commitment to save the world but also become a way to worship and honour God, making glimpses of his love and kingdom visible. 

[1] Colossians 1: 15-21 

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2 responses to “Taking hopeful steps toward less waste”

  1. Robin Perry says:

    Thankyou, Annemarthe, for the 5 Rs. Well written – comprehensive but concise and a daily challenge to each of us to be aware and more environmentally sensitive about everything we use and then discard.

    Many blessings

    Robin Perry

  2. Helen Stephens says:

    Great reflection and challenge Annemarthe, thank you, Helen