04 October 2019

Editorial - Stewardship

Let’s talk about Stewardship for a moment. This is a term I’ve heard all my life. In the Episcopal church, they talked about stewardship as a recruitment tool of sorts, and that all made sense (as much as a concept like that could mean to a child). As I grew older, I began to hear that word used in a more secular context - being stewards of the environment. And further, as I grew into Paganism, I learned more about what Stewardship really meant to me and to those around me.

Webster defines “stewardship” in a few different ways, but the most relevant here is:
"the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care."

Throughout my teens and early twenties, the concept that the care of the earth is entrusted to us all, and that we should be careful and responsible with it grew and flourished, and programs for recycling, and reminders to “recycle, reduce, reuse!” grew in numbers to such a great (and wonderful) extent that it is very nearly appalling to many people when recycling is not readily available alongside refuse containers.

Then, in the early 2000’s, we were told that the plastic bottles that some of us were diligently recycling were not actually recyclable, and that they were leaching chemicals into our water. Gratefully, this seemed to cause two things to happen: 1. Plastic manufacturers learned how to create better bottles that are less harmful to the consumer, and 2. More people got onto the “reusable bottle” train. Now with the invention of things like Yeti cups, even people in Texas can have cold drinks hours after they’re poured and not generate extra waste in the process. It’s not perfect. We haven’t eliminated plastic bottles altogether.

The statistics are still rather alarming. A quick search on your favorite web search engine will bring up a plethora of “facts” about single use plastics, some with thorough documentation, others whose documentation is lacking detail, or lacking altogether. One of our amazing CMA Members created this document which contains details about the types of plastics available and great information about their recyclability, chemical content, and other interesting information.

Another wonderful CMA Member wrote into the Accord, and had this story to share:
My grandson told me more than 20 years ago that if I threw a cigarette butt on the ground at Heartland, I’d have to pick up 20 butts as punishment. He assured me that would be extremely difficult because pagans simply did not litter and absolutely knew better than to throw CIGARETTE BUTTS on the ground. I loved that about this community. I loved it that after spending the night partying around the revel fire, there was very little trash to pick up and I almost NEVER saw any trash on the roads or around the campsites. People recycled, for crying out loud! It was amazing! There were trash cans and butt cans and bags that distinguished between “recycling” and “garbage”. That was 20 years ago. 

Everyone seems to have varying degrees of commitment to environmental stewardship. When I lived alone, I had reduced my trash collection to one bag of trash per week at most, and my recycle bin was more often full when my trash was virtually empty. The Pack it in, Pack it out rule at CMA was always an easy concept for me, even before CMA stopped providing the dumpster at festival.

Now that my life is a little more hectic, I find myself not devoting as much thought to being a steward of this world we share - generating more trash instead of recycling, making less environmentally friendly choices, particularly when it comes to lunch at work, and buying the occasional plastic bottle when I’ve forgotten my reusable bottle or mug. We definitely recycle as much as we can (if you’ve been to a gathering at our house, or at Dammit Camp, you’ve probably seen me pulling cans and bottles out of the trash and moving them to the recycle bin), but I always feel like I could do more.

I have challenged my camp this festival, and I hope you consider challenging yours, to bring larger containers of water, and leave behind the individual bottles. I challenge you to consider recycling anything that can be recycled when you return to the default world after the festival. And I challenge you to continue that practice for the following week, month, season, year - whatever you can manage. The things we do become a practice, and a practice becomes a lifestyle. Let’s live our truth, and be intentional stewards of this world we call home.

Accord Editor
With contributions from Bran and Undomiel