Lent carbon fast

With Lent fast approaching people are expressing ideas of what to give up. In recent years the idea of a lent carbon fast has emerged. The oil lamp is going to throw its hat in the ring and make a few suggestions under a number of different headings.

The problem with modern Western life is we are addicted to oil and more generally energy. This use is causing rises in temperature, environmental damage and an addiction which sooner or later (and we would argue sooner) is going to have to end.  Cutting this energy use is very difficult because the addiction we have goes beyond energy use into materials.  However,  there are some simple things you can do to make a start at getting it under control covered under a number of different headings…


  • Start by monitoring your use on a weekly basis, you may be surprised by how much you use.  Read your electricity and gas (if you use it) at roughly the same time on the same day each week.  Having done this we turn to ways to save a bit of energy.
  • One suggestion that has been made is to remove a bulb from a prominent light during lent.  There is a danger in our house that if we do that someone will merely leave another light on to replace it.  A better idea if this is a danger is to replace the bulb with a lower energy alternative.  As we have covered on this blog LED’s are now a viable alternative.  Despite their high up front cost they pay for themselves in 1-2 years (at European electricity rates).  I’m going to do this with two lights my daughters use.
  • Other simple ideas include turning the thermostat down a few degrees or even more radically switching the heating off when its mild.  Don’t switch your heating on an off throughout the day (letting the system cool in between).  The warm-up each time uses a lot of energy.
  • Only fill the kettle with the water you need when you need it.
  • Consider putting in more insulation.  Loft insulation is the easiest and most cost effective to do, but don’t forgot to insulate the loft hatch itself.


  • Drive less!  Don’t use the car for short journeys. Why not walk and pray at the same time.  Cycle.  If you do wear a helmet.
  • If you drive make sure your tyres are fully inflated and cut down on the use of air conditioning.
  • Drive carefully and don’t accelerate or brake wildly.


Everything we use either has oil embedded in it in some way either because its derived from oil (plastics) or has been transported long distances.  Stuff and food (see below) are responsible for a lot of carbon emissions.

  • During lent cut down on what you buy.
  • Our homegroup is having a swap, share and donate next week (I will put up a short blog entry about it).
  • Recycle as much as possible.


The modern food system has been described as a means of turning oil into food.  It takes a lot of energy to keep the industrial food system going.

  • The number on “No oil in the lamp” tip is grow your own.  Whilst during lent its probably impossible to bring something to the cropping stage you can plant stuff to harvest over the summer.  If you don’t have any land this is no excuse.  Did you know you can grow Strawberries and potatoes in containers?  Grow lettuce and herbs in window-boxes.
  • Make your own bread (the subject of another blog entry), in fact try to cook everything fresh.
  • Don’t throw food away.
  • Buy local if possible
  • Cut down on the meat, its better for you and the environment.  Be careful about buying fish though, many species are getting fished out.

This is a quick run through of some ideas and our book has more and in more detail.  Most of all have fun doing this and remember what lent is about.

We have a lent study guide based around our book available for download here. No oil in the lamp – Lent guide


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2 Responses to Lent carbon fast

  1. admin says:

    Forgot to say big one this – don’t leave stuff on standby. You know the stuff, mobiles etc. The “Hollow Hint” to plug them (mobiles, ipods) via USB to the computer and then switch the computer off then you cut your standby at a stroke. Happy Lent everyone.

  2. Pingback: Lenten Carbon Fast | Church Newsletter Spiritual Formation Content | Church Newsletter Spiritual Formation Content

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