Revd Sue Mann

2nd March 2019

Recently, on one of my days off, I was in Leigh on Sea and went into a shop which has just opened, called ‘The Refill Room.’ The main ethos of the shop is to eliminate single use packaging. There are shelves full of glass dispensers containing all kinds of organic foods like nuts, cereals, different rices, chocolate, herbs, flours, loose leaf tea and ground coffee beans to name just a few. In fact, I saw varieties of foods I have never heard of before. You take your own container or buy the packaging in store and pay for the weight of the product. They also sell things like soaps, shampoos, cleaning products, water bottles, coffee cups, metal straws and sandwich boxes.

I had a look on their website and it says,

‘The origin of the store stemmed from the owner Gemma, who has a growing concern about the ecological state of the world. Gemma’s husband is a diver and has seen first- hand what the wastage and over use of un-recyclable plastic products has done to our oceans and they wanted to do something about it.’

Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter, back in 2015, said:

‘The earth cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22).’

God calls us to be good stewards of the creation with which he has blessed us and it is a call which we must all take seriously. And, to this end, following the impassioned campaign and speech by 15 year old Swede, Greta Thunberg, last week thousands of schoolchildren and young people joined a strike to challenge politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis. More than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall joined the strike. Our son and a fellow pupil at his school, with the permission of their headteacher, organised a three-hour strike, during which time the students wrote letters urging the Government to act upon this.

As I was in ‘The Refill Room,’ I spotted a book called ‘Living Plastic Free,’ and it inspired me to see if our family, in the 40 day run up to Easter, can try to have a plastic free Lent. Perhaps you might like to join us in this challenge. But even if you don’t do that, I challenge you to try to minimise the amount of plastic you use. Perhaps, if you don’t do so already, you could carry a cup in your bag so that, if you are offered tea or coffee in a paper or polystyrene cup, you can use your own instead.

Just as God calls us to care for the environment, he also calls us to care for one another. This year, the Thurrock Food Bank, already supported by many of you, has created a Lent Challenge which is included in this magazine and you might like to join in with this and take the things you collect to one of the foodbank boxes in each of our churches.

And, finally, as you prepare to celebrate Easter, if you have anyone to buy Easter eggs for, you may like to consider buying either a Fairtrade egg ‘The Real Easter Egg’, from the Meaningful Chocolate Company, with chocolate which has been ethically produced and which contains the Easter Story, or a plastic free organic Easter egg from the Refill Room. Just a few ideas to reflect upon…

With continued love and prayers for you all.

God bless, Sue x