7 Deadly Ecological Sins

Written by Nelson Lee

Reflecting on plagues in the Bible, these always seemed to be from God (or that God allowed) as a result of sin – usually widespread common sin of the masses.

There are many sins that seem so common today – greed, selfishness, indifference, pride…

 How do we sin as Christians? – and perhaps hardly even knowing it?– as we consume for our basic needs – the 7 (ecological) deadly sins. Confess and repent.

 Basic needs not met in God’s way but in the world’s way is sin:

  • Air to breathe – we pollute the air we need to breathe when we heat our homes and hot water with fossil fuels, especially when we do so beyond what we really need – wasting, living extravagantly; when we drive our cars and trucks; when we fly; even when we take most public transit. Smoking and vaping cause localized air pollution. Carelessness can cause forest and grass fires. The climate we are changing contributes to longer and more sever fire seasons.

  • Water to drink – we use too much water and we waste it when we let it run when we brush our teeth or shave or wash dishes or veggies; when we wash our clothes too often and take long, hot showers – or worse, baths; when we water lawns, especially in the heat of day and when we water the sidewalk and it runs onto the streets and wash cars that don’t need it; even our choice of appliances can contribute to this sin. Our choice of food contributes to wasting water when it consists of a high meat, especially beef diet; lamb and dairy as well. The climate we are changing contributes to extremes of droughts or downpours that reduces the availability of water where and when we need it, especially to the poor.

  • Food to eat – a great sin is wasting edible food because we don’t want to eat leftovers – that we make too much so there are leftovers. Not eating edible food because it does not look nice or because “sell before dates” are understood as “not good to eat after dates” is another great sin. Perhaps the greatest sin is eating too much on a regular basis and gaining weight. Supporting industrial food production, especially of meat is also a sin when alternatives are readily available. Eating more meat protein than is needed is another sin. Buying food that is imported via air is a sin when alternative local or food via ships is available.

  • Clothes to wear – at the top of the list is over consuming, especially when perfectly good clothing is not worn because it is out of fashion! Too much clothing in one’s closet is another sin. Buying more clothing because one is gaining more weight, beyond a healthy norm is a sin. Then letting extra clothing hang or fill closet space rather than sharing or donating is a sin.

  • Shelter – excessive living space with inefficient heating or poor insulation means a bigger environmental and climate footprint than is needed. Cosmetic renovations that are not needed are wasteful, which is a sin. Tearing down good homes just to make them bigger and newer is a sin. Failing to make new homes carbon neutral is coming to be recognized as a sin in Vancouver.

  • Transportation – the key metric for sinning is how much fuel one uses in a year, whether it is because of inefficiency or because of excessive driving. The more is consumed, the greater the sin. Another is the size of the vehicle vs the size of those riding along. Driving alone in a truck is quite different than driving a small car with all seats occupied. Flying is one of the worst ways to consume fuel and hence sin. Flying for fun or entertainment or pleasure tops the list of sinning.

  • Stuff - the more stuff we have and consume, the more we contribute to environmental degradation, pollution, species loss and climate change, and hence sin. Buying stuff with the intent of throwing it away after one use is a sin. (i.e., single use plastic, disposal dishware, clothing, cleaning supplies). Buying a new cell phone each time a new model comes out – even if the used one is reused, results in more consumption than if kept for 2-3+ years and is a sin. Even worse is a vehicle (which is much more massive, requiring far more raw and finished materials). There is transportation, packaging and the manufacturing and extraction that goes along with everything that is manufactured.