Could you go for a year without using toilet paper?
Colin Beavan did.
The AP reports a story about Beavan and his family, who for the past year have sought to make zero impact on the environment around them.
They shut off the electricity to their apartment. They refused to use anything disposable, and they wouldn’t buy anything that was new. They traveled by bicycle, only bought fresh food from farmers, put away their television, and even gave up toilet paper. They didn’t want to leave a single fingerprint on the earth.
I admire Beavan and his family for their desire to preserve the Earth. But as I thought about Beavan and his year-long experiment, I couldn’t help but think of Genesis 1:28, where God says to Adam and Eve:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Based on Genesis 1:28 it would seem that Colin Beavan’s desire to make zero impact on the earth is unbiblical. God has given humanity a mandate to subdue the earth and to have dominion over it. We don’t exist on an equal plane with the rest of creation. The earth exists so that we might subdue it, and make it useful to us, and receive benefit from it. To make no impact on the earth is to ignore the mandate given to us by God.
In his book Business for the Glory of God, Wayne Grudem comments:
God’s command to “subdue” the earth implies doing productive work to make the resources of the earth useful for themselves [Adam and Eve] and others. This is what he wanted Adam and Eve to do, and that is one of the things he wants us to do as well.
We’re called to be stewards of the earth. Yes, it’s possible to sinfully destroy and harm the environment, instead of stewarding it. But it’s also possible to try and preserve the environment too much. God created the earth so that we might use it for our good.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to purchase some toilet paper.
+photo by Andrei!