Seven habits for greener parishes

In keeping with the theme of Creation, here are seven habits pastors and parishioners can adopt to help restore the environment. These suggestions for greening parishes are adapted from the Green Church Project website.

1. ECOLOGICAL SCRIPTURE

Include passages from the Bible that speak about nature and creation during the various liturgies throughout the year. Preaching a green gospel can raise awareness among parishioners of their responsibility for the environment and inspire them to be more proactive regarding the protection of the environment.

2. ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Assess the energy that is being consumed in parish facilities. Pastors and parishioners can do this with a simple “walk through” of their church or parish centre, or they can hire a professional to conduct an energy audit. The obvious: Change lighting to more energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs. The savings from being more energy efficient can be reinvested in the parish's outreach work.  

3. GROUNDS MAINTENANCE

Plant evergreen or deciduous trees and shrubs and install bird feeders. Replace grass with clover, which does not require fertilizer or frequent watering; mowing is only occasional. When renovating, opt for recycled or nontoxic paint.

4. REDUCING WASTE

Adopt the four Rs: recycle, reuse, reduce and repurpose. The Green Church Program offers free boxes to collect batteries and ink cartridges for recycling. Donate untouched food that has been left-over from social events to local soup kitchens and compost the half-eaten food. And for those large church gatherings, Ékovia offers eco-friendly dish ware. 

5. RESPONSIBLE MENU

An important part of parish life are the social gatherings, which often include food. Serve fair-trade, local and organic food products. Complement this effort with a parish garden, either indoors or outdoors. Plant fruit trees or bushes outdoors. Serve these fresh goods at parish gatherings after the harvest season. Make preserves and jams and offer them to local soup kitchens. 

6. SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION

With less parishes in Montreal these days and fewer people living in walking distance from their place of worship, it is no longer as easy to stroll to Sunday Mass. But that doesn’t mean parishioners have to roll up in their four-wheel drive. Organize parish carpools.  Install bike racks on the church grounds and post bus schedules on bulletin boards. 

7. WATER CONSERVATION

Public toilets usually represent the largest water consumption in a parish facility. When renovating, opt for six-litre toilet tanks. Collect rainwater in large buckets or reservoirs to water the parish grounds. Install timers on watering systems and repair leaky pipes. Serve tap water at church meetings rather than bottled water. 

by Jennifer De Freitas

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