Lent is a Christian observance that lasts 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. It is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the arrival of Easter, and is seen as a time for self-reflection. Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer their time to others. While not all Christians celebrate this time, those who do should think more deeply about what to sacrifice during these 40 days.
Even though Lent is a religious season, it has some very secular impacts and one of them is on the environment. During Lent, luxury habits like consuming meat, smoking and drinking alcohol are commonly given up by observers. Diverging from the past, this year the Church of England added plastics to the list of things to avoid. Specifically, the goal of the “Lent Plastic Challenge” is to avoid the material in consumer products and packaging. This supports the rhetoric of the pope: to put the environment first and combat climate change.
When asking Rider students what they thought of these new changes, junior environmental science major Loreena Avery said, “It’s great to see these types of things happening in something as widespread as religion. I mean why not give up plastic? It’s harming our earth so we are obligated to keep it safe as stewards of the earth.”
Similar to the focus on reduction in the use of plastics, there can be something said about observers who give up meat every Friday during the 40-day period. According to National Public Radio, the average amount of water used to process each pound of meat is 2,500 gallons. A collective effort to avoid eating it would save a staggering 36 million gallons of water. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average adult who consumes meat eats about 0.36 pounds per day. Take one person and multiply those 0.36 pounds by these seven Fridays of Lent — 2.52 pounds are reduced in consumption by just one person taking this action. If 1,000 people cut out meat for Lent, consumption of over 2,520 pounds of it would be reduced.
Rider has a commitment to reduce and recycle plastics, and it falls in line with the globally observed Earth Day on April 22. According to Earth Day Network, the theme of this year is “end plastic pollution,” which coincides with the important message of the Lent Plastic Challenge. Combining the efforts of all Lent observers who decide to skip the plastic this year effectively assures that massive amounts of this material will be kept from pollution and landfills. On April 19, Rider Eco Reps will be hosting an Earth Day event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Campus Mall, as well as many more events during Earth Month.
When informed about Rider’s initiative and the actions during Lent, sophomore biology major Alexis Windecker said, “Even though I am not super religious, I think that this is fantastic because it helps spread environmental awareness to Christians and non-Christians alike, and helps us look at the core issues that need addressing to reduce our impact on our environment.”
— Rahul Meta
Lawrenceville Eco Rep
Printed in the 3/7/18 issue.