About a year and a half ago, long before most people were carrying those little green bags into the grocery store my sister in law gave us four of those reusable grocery bags. The leaders of her congregation, Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El, were encouraging members to be a part of the Green Team. The Green Team was working to help make their temple more green, finding ways to contribute to a more sustainable earth by using green products and practices throughout their temple. On the side of the bags are the words, "It's a Mitzvah!" The term mitzvah means commandment and has also come to express any act of human kindness. Being a good steward of the earth, indeed, is an act of human kindness.
It has taken my family over a year to consistently remember to bring our reusable bags into the grocery store. When we get into the grocery and realize we have forgotten the bags, we face a big decision: "Do we go all the way back out to the car and get the bags or do we just forget about it and use paper or plastic this time?" Some times we decided to go out and get the bags and other times we just used paper or plastic.
But now we have a better answer to this dilemma. While my wife, Robin, was visiting a close friend, Davina, in Tennessee last month, they went to the grocery store having forgotten to carry in reusable bags. But Davina had a third way to avoid the old dilemma of either going back to the car or using paper or plastic. Davina's answer to the question, "paper or plastic?" was "neither." She asked the grocery clerk to just put the groceries back into the cart without bags after they were scanned. "My bags are in the car," she said. "I'll put the groceries into the bags when I get out to my car."
What a great idea! A small thing–but a great idea. We've already done this a number of times since Robin has gotten back from Tennessee. Good stewardship isn't just about sermons and lectures, its finding ways, daily, to live out simple practices of good stewardship. It's a mitzvah!