A Green Consumer Diet: Fasting from Oil

Fasting is a natural, religious and spiritual affair which is practised by many people all over the world. Muslims give up food and drink between sunrise and sunset for an entire month during Ramadan, Christians give up luxuries during Lent, and Jews abstain from food during Yom Kippur. But can these practices be transferred onto the green agenda to help protect the planet from the worst effects of climate change? Well, one UK-based Christian organisation thinks so and on 3 October, it is launching an Oil Fast as part of its ‘Carbon Exodus’.

Operation Noah is a Christian organisation providing focus and leadership in response to the growing threat of climate change. It states that it is informed by the science of climate change, motivated by faith, and driven by the hope that society can be transformed and enriched through radical change in lifestyles and patterns of consumption. The organisation highlights the need to urgently decarbonise the economy by 2030 so that catastrophic climate change does not endanger God’s creations. 

A Modern-Day Carbon Exodus

They state that we are all simply ‘hooked’ on oil, dependent on it in our daily lives and yet few of us actually realise the serious consequences of this addiction. (No, we’re not taking about that lovely green-tinged stuff that you add to your salads but the tarry, nasty slick stuff that comes from the ground.) In response, Operation Noah is “calling on Christians to stop for a day and take stock of our joint and personal complicity in the ongoing drive to exploit ever more challenging and inaccessible oil reserves.” 

As part of their ‘Carbon Exodus’- inspired by the journey of Moses away from bondage in Egypt- they are taking a journey away from carbon dependence. Part of this includes the Oil fast where churches around the country will hold a service highlighting the dire consequences of oil-dependence on the people and planet. The Spring 2010 oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that caused environmental destruction, loss of livelihoods as well as incurring huge costs, perfectly illustrates the real costs of dependence on oil. 

A brilliant guide has also been put together to help provide guidance and practical advice on how to reduce your daily dependence on oil. Firstly, the depth to which our daily lives are intertwined in oil is examined: crude oil is refined into gas, petrol, tar, plastics, synthetic clothing, medication, piping for water, sewage and gas supplies and is even used in candles. So what can you do? 

Simple Steps Towards A Sustainable Lifestyle

Well, suggestions are broken off into six sections for various areas of our daily lives. For example for travel, they recommend that you lift share, cycle or even rediscover the joys of walking. For food, local and organic produce is recommended as well reducing the consumption of meat and produce that is out of season. 

To reduce the carbon-footprint of our homes, they suggest switching to green electricity, installing solar panels and saving water using flush savers and drinking tap water rather than buying bottled water. 

To minimise the impact of the stuff we buy, the guide states that it’s best to buy clothes made from natural products, to carry around a re-usable bag or maybe have a ‘stuff’ free day where you don’t buy any more things. Finally, some carbon-free fun is encouraged in the form of picnics, book reading, sketching or arranging a communal activity such as football! 

So switch off your TV, get outside and enjoy nature. Although the event is aimed at Christians, it’s such a great initiative that everyone- religious or not- should consider joining in. After all, we could all do with reducing our destructive addiction to oil.