How to go green
Tips and suggestions for parishes planning to prioritize the environment.
1. Schedule a Bike- or Walk-to-Church Sunday.
2. Offer pitchers of water instead of bottles at parish meetings and explain why plastic bottles aren’t good for the environment.
3. Serve fair-trade coffee and tea (in mugs instead of foam cups) after Mass, again with signs explaining why.
4. Schedule a tire inflation fundraiser with the youth group instead of a car wash, so that drivers can benefit from increased fuel efficiency.
5. Do a rough calculation of your parish’s carbon footprint for ideas on how to reduce it (coolcongregations.com).
Five tips on bringing creation care to your community
1. Invite a group to read, pray, and discuss. Parishes often begin with study and reflection, rather than action or a big event.
2. Link to a local advocacy group, and learn what they already know. "Walking with our local advocacy group was crucial in learning how to do justice," says Fran Didier of Immaculate Heart Parish in Grand Junction, Colorado. "If you don't know how to take action, you can stumble all over."
3. Find other parishes in your area that are engaged in creation care. Find out what they're doing and share.
4. Work with other denominations and religions. "We've learned a lot from other churches," says Karen Sjoberg of Grand Junction.
5. Include the pastor. "This is big," says Didier. "He may never embrace the environment as a cause. But point out the call from Rome."
This is web-only article that accompanies "Our Lady of Waste Management," which appeared in the April 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 75, No. 4, pages 12-17).
Image: Tom Wright