Shrove Tuesday is that time of year when we tuck into pancakes, sweet or savoury, to mark the start of Lent, a time when we traditionally give something up during the 40 days leading up to Easter.
It might be perennial favourites like sweets, chocolates, crisps, or bad habits such as smoking, too much alcohol, even swearing.
But things are changing. Customary ‘giving up’ can be seen as benefiting the health and wellbeing of the person doing the abstaining. Instead, more people are thinking about the health of our planet and the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable, both here at home and in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Ideas for ‘eco-fasting’ include:
• Thinking about the impact of the food we eat on the environment and eliminating food waste
• Turning down your thermostat by one degree
• Buying no new clothes – fashion is the world’s second-worst polluter – for 40 days or more
CAFOD, the Catholic development charity, says the money saved by such ‘eco-pledges’ can benefit those least able to cope with the effects of climate change.
Christine Allen, CAFOD director, said: “Over the last year, we’ve seen the reality of the climate emergency around the world – whether Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, the fires in Australia or the floods here at home caused by Storms Ciara and Dennis.
“In all of these situations, it’s the most vulnerable people who are worst hit, and this is even more the case in the world’s poorest communities which are least able to prepare for and recover from disasters.”
This year Ash Wednesday falls on 26th February, and supporters of CAFOD in England and Wales will be getting involved in Lent activities to raise money for the charity.
This money will support CAFOD’s work with local experts such as Sr Consilia in Zimbabwe, who is not only a nun but also a qualified pharmacist.
She works in Gokwe, an area suffering the worst drought in generations, where malnourished mothers give birth to dangerously underweight babies.
Yet, despite the additional threat of diseases such as malaria, cholera and typhoid, the clinic didn’t lose a single mother or child last year.
“I enjoy most to be with the women, to be with everyone, the patients, helping them, loving them”, said Sr Consilia.
Find out more at cafod.org.uk/lent
Picture: Christine Allen, director of aid agency CAFOD. (Louise Norton/CAFOD).