Repentance, reflection and self-sacrifice are observed in the days of Christian Lent. These 40 days symbolize the time that Jesus spent in the desert and “resisted Satan's temptations,” as described in the Bible. And while some people give up chocolate, wine, French fries or gossip web sites, the Hartford Courant reports that others are using Lent to give back to the environment. 

The Rev. Jane White-Hassler is a priest at Grace Episcopal Church in Newington, Conn. For her, a green Lent could mean "thinking about the environment and doing things to save it for yourself and those who come after us.” White-Hassler’s church has been undergoing eco-friendly renovations and is even considering solar panels. 

But the Rev. White-Hassler is not the first religious leader to suggest going green for Lent. In 2008, the Church of England focused on its worshippers’ carbon footprint by offering a list of 40 green actions, one for each day of Lent. These actions could have been unplugging phantom energy about the house or replacing light bulbs with CFLs. You could plant a tree in your backyard, stop buying bottled water, buy local produce from a farmers market or get involved in a community garden.

Tom Washburn is a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar who completed a green fast in 2008. He wrote about it on his blog, A Friar’s Life. He turned off the church's exterior and walkway lights, some of which were on past midnight. He unplugged his cell phone charger and did not let the water run when he brushed his teeth. Washburn told the Hartford Courant that he wasn’t able to do all 40 steps, but said “he did enough to become hyper-aware of his environment and basic wastes of resources.” After his fast, Washburn was so impressed by his green doings that he traded in the church’s SUV for a Honda hybrid. 

Washburn sums up his green Lent with the following: "In the Gospel, the core of Jesus' message was that the kingdom of God is at hand. So we are stewards of that kingdom … It's not just a good ecological approach; it's a good spiritual approach.”

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