Christian testimony - Dr Miriam Pepper

Miriam lives about the most climate-conserving lifestyle of anyone I know. In this account, Miriam lets us know what steps she has taken and how she has managed to accomplish them, as well as the co-benefits she has enjoyed. Miriam's story is inspirational - dip in and see!

Thea Ormerod

1. What does your faith tradition teach about simplicity? What are the attitudes to material consumption in your faith?

Material simplicity, sufficiency rather than accumulation, and abundant life that comes through justice for the poor and sharing what we have are key values in my faith tradition.  They are core to Jesus’ example and teaching and have been lived out by Christian communities throughout the ages.  I love the image of the shared banquet, strongly present in the scriptures. 

In our context, it is important to find ways in which we can resist the tide of material excess and waste that so much present in a consumer culture, and, especially, to do it together.  The season of Lent, which mirrors Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, is a time of preparation and discipline leading up to Easter.  It is a season when Christians can practice cutting back – fasting, forgoing consumer pleasures, and giving generously to others. 

2. Can you share a story of a change you have tried to make in your own life when it comes to diet (moving towards a plant-based diet and reducing food waste), mobility (decreasing use of car and plane) or renewable energy use?

Reducing my use of fossil fuels through my transport decisions is one of the ways that I’ve worked to reduce my ecological footprint.  I don’t have a car, although I am part of a car-sharing scheme and drive occasionally.  Mostly I walk or travel by public transport.  I am fortunate to live in a place that is well serviced by trains and buses.  It has been more than ten years since I’ve flown on a plane. 

3. What was it like to work to make these changes? What was difficult?  What was rewarding?  How have you persevered?

Living more locally and slowing down my travel has been is its own reward.  I am more connected to my community, the local environment, the weather and the change of seasons.  I’ve had memorable encounters with strangers on public transport.  The fitness that comes through an active lifestyle is also a strong benefit.     

People in my line of work fly for various reasons.  I am grateful that my employer has supported my decision not to do so, and I have found that I appreciate all the more when opportunities such as conferences are offered locally.  And while forgoing holidays abroad might have once felt like a sacrifice, really there is much to appreciate and explore close to home.  One difficult thing has been not being able to take our dog on public transport, especially when it comes to visiting family.  But with planning it is still possible to minimise car use – by lift-sharing with others, for example, or asking friends to mind pets, which also builds community.

4. Are there further changes you would like to work towards?

There are aspects of my diet that I would like to address – I eat seasonally, relatively locally and have reduced my consumption of animal products.  But there is more that I can do, including growing more food, at home and together with others.  Really it is a matter of me giving more time and attention to this task.  Changing our everyday practices can be hard, but new actions can bring new joys and over time become habits which are easier to sustain.  The changes I have made to my transport have taught me that.