Everyday eco action wins St Di's Church a bronze award


St Dionysius launched Eco Church – an initiative run by the Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK - a year ago, with a team of four from the congregation taking the lead and with the full support of Vicar James Pickersgill and the Parochial Church Council.

Lin Ball, who is part of the eco team, says: “It became apparent that many of the congregation were already doing a great deal in their personal lives to be environmentally friendly. But this inspired everyone to step up a gear!”

A survey giving detailed feedback from 83 of its church attenders revealed that people had made some fantastic changes in their shopping habits, travel, cleaning regimes, cooking, gardening, etc - all in response to a growing awareness of the needs of the planet.

As well as personal lifestyle changes, the church’s key activities and initiatives were also looked at. These include:

•          Making sure that caring for God's creation is a foundational part of St Di’s teaching and worship.

•          Using the church magazine to raise awareness of eco-conscious living.

•          Hosting regular freecycling events for the community, enabling people to de-clutter and find a home for useful stuff that might otherwise go to landfill.

•          Becoming a collection centre for used pens and crisp packets for specialist recycling in partnership with the Church of England Primary School nearby.

•          Hosting a town-wide lunchtime prayer event for climate change.

•          Members of the congregation are involved in many green projects in the community, some in partnership with the town council and the local MP. These include the Harborough Plastics Pledge, volunteer litter picking, open air worship opportunities, group walks in the countryside, organic community gardening, and a new pop-up Repair Café for the town.

•          Inside the church building, they have swapped their kitchen and cleaning materials for eco-friendly alternatives. They now use Fairtrade communion wine. They have even found a source of prayer candles which mean they re-use their candle holders. And the vicar wears Fairtrade clerical shirts.

•          They are moving towards gaining recognition as a Fairtrade Church and plans are in hand to mark Fairtrade Fortnight as a regular part of the church calendar from next February.

Many of these ideas are simple, yet effective, and could easily be adopted by other churches across the diocese.

“There’s always so much more to learn and to do,” says Lin. “As we move towards the Eco Church Silver Award we’ll be looking not only at establishing our new practices so that they become a way of life for us at St Di’s, but also at a range of new things including measuring the church’s carbon footprint and looking at ethical investment.”

Lin has also started a Facebook group called Harborough Go Green! which shares news about climate change, both globally and locally. “In all this we have been encouraged that other churches - St Nicholas and St Hugh - in the Harborough group are also working towards their Bronze Award,” says Lin. “And we have been supported by the local Methodist Church who are currently working for their Silver Award.”

Are you feeling inspired? Could your church be more environmentally friendly? Do you already have things in place that could be the foundations for gaining an Eco Church Award?

Maybe it’s time to start putting your everyday faith into eco action.