A Different Kind of Fast

Magdelena is a junior undergraduate from Seattle who’s studying Marine Biology. In the spring of 2020, she led Duke Lutherans through a Lenten fast to help us reduce plastic consumption and waste. Even though COVID-19 caused campus to close before the end of Lent, Magdalena continues to encourage Duke Lutherans to care for creation from home.

How did you become interested in creation care? 
I want to study marine science, and it’s really disheartening to read about how much plastic ends up in the ocean. It breaks down into tiny little parts which animals end up eating. Also, waste from more developed countries often ends up affecting people in less developed countries. I deeply value environmental justice and marine conservation, so both of those have made me really conscious about how much I throw away.

What inspired you to lead Duke Lutherans in fasting from plastics in Lent? 
I think faith communities have such an important role in caring for God’s creation. ELCA Young Adults introduced a #NoPlasticsForLent challenge with information about how churches across the country could reduce the amount of plastic they use. And of course, Lent was the perfect time to “fast” from plastic.

What changes did Duke Lutherans implement as part of the fast from plastics? 
The biggest change was the switch from single-use plastics to reusable dinnerware for Sunday night meal (pictured above). Hopefully in the future we can do some other things, like composting, but for now we just wanted to stop throwing away our plates, silverware, and cups every meal. Our transition to reusable dishes went really well! People seemed genuinely excited about it, which was wonderful.

How have your own practices around reducing waste changed since moving back home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? 
Like everyone, my life has been pretty weird the last few weeks. But I’ve noticed my plastic waste has gone down since I’m not going out and buying things. I’ve been trying to order as little as possible online, because shipped items often come with lots of packaging. Right now, public health is more important than a video game (in all its plastic wrapping).

What does being a part of Duke Lutherans mean to you? 
Duke Lutherans is a place where you immediately feel like you have a place to belong. Evening Prayer is one of my favorite things about Duke. It’s easy to get bogged down in tests and grades, but singing together every Sunday in the York Room reminds me that the world is bigger and more vibrant than my laptop screen. Even though we’re all apart now, it’s so incredibly lovely to have a community reaching out and checking in. It’s been a nice reminder that God is with us, even during a global pandemic.

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