Tending God’s Garden

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Imagine that your neighbors have a wonderful garden. They grow all sorts of food, beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees. Butterflies visit the flowers, birds nest in the trees, and rabbits nibble the plants. Your neighbors share their garden because there’s plenty for everyone.

Whenever they go away for a while, they ask you to take care of (tend) their garden. What an honor! You tend it carefully, don’t you?

You don’t have to imagine this garden. You have been asked to tend a wonderful garden in real life. Read on.

Plastic Weeds

Odd-looking weeds have sprung up in God’s garden: plastic bags. They’re like weeds because they litter the land, clog landfills and waterways, and kill wildlife that mistake them for food. But unlike weeds, they don’t decay back into the ground.

In South Africa people call plastic bags the national flower because they “sprout” everywhere.

Ireland and South Africa tax the bags; the cities of Mumbai, India, and San Francisco, California, have banned certain plastic bags. In China it will be illegal for shops to give them out free after June 1, 2008.

You can help by reusing plastic bags or using your own bags. When a store clerk asks, “Paper or plastic?” say, “Neither. I’m breaking the habit” and bring out your own bag.

Whose Garden?

In the beginning __________ created the _____________ and the _____________. (Genesis 1:1, NIV)

God saw ____________ that ____________ had made, and it was ______________ . (Genesis 1:31)

The ____________ is the ____________’s, and ____________ in it, the ____________, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and

__________________________________. (Genesis 2:15)

Listen closely when you hear people talk about caring for God’s creation, his garden. What reasons do they give? Do you hear people say we should care because God made it and put us in charge?

Tending God’s garden can be a big job. There are lots of problems; but there are also lots of ways to tackle these problems. Everybody can do something.

Try This

Pretend for one week that you live in Ireland. Count the number of new plastic bags you use. Multiply that number by 20 cents to find out your tax. Then carry your own bags (plastic, paper, cloth, whatever) and use them.

To see what other kids have done, go to www.azcentral.com/community/swvalley/articles/1122swv-recycle1123.html (Arizona) and www.times.co.nz/cms/news/education/2007/11/art100018632.php (New Zealand).

Fun facts

North Americans toss out lots of plastic plates and cups; enough, it’s been said, to serve a picnic to everyone in the world six times a year.

Many plastics take up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.

The largest “dump” in the world is in the Pacific Ocean. Floating trash collects in a calm area and stays there for years. This Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and still growing.

According to most experts, 43,000 tons of food gets thrown away in the United States every day.

The average person throws away about 4 pounds (18 kilograms) of trash every day.

Not Too Long Ago . . .

•    Most kids used one pen each year at school. The pens could be refilled with ink when they ran dry.

•    Kids carried food to school in a reusable metal lunch box.    

•    They carried their juice or milk in a reusable thermos.

•    People drank tap water from glasses instead of bottled water.

•    People threw their trash into metal trash cans, not plastic bags.

Why don’t we still do some of those things?

Weigh Your Trash

Keep a trash bag with you for a full day. Throw any trash that you have into it. Just before you go to bed, weigh your bag of trash. During the following week, think about ways you can reduce your amount of trash. (For example, don’t use as much stuff or reuse anything you can.) Then weigh your trash from another full day to see if the new bag weighs less.

Footprints in the G arden

We use the food, water, energy, and other things (resources) that God has given us in creation to live. We tend his garden well when we take only our share of resources.

The resources each one of us uses is called our ecoprint. Most of us try to keep our ecoprints small by using as few resources as possible. That’s often difficult because we don’t know exactly where all our stuff comes from or how much energy is used to make it or bring it to us.

Here’s an easy and fun way to start checking your ecoprint: Go to

www.ecokids.ca/pub/index.cfm. Click on the cartoon figures on the left side of the screen to find games, information, or even help with homework.

Enjoy tending God’s garden!

About the Author

Joanne De Jonge is a freelance writer and a former U.S. National Park Ranger. She attends West Valley Christian Fellowship in Phoenix, Ariz.
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