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The church that’s taking action to tackle rubbish

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Are you looking for some inspiration and practical tips to help your household, church or community group reduce its rubbish?

The Rubbish Campaign is calling on governments to take action on plastic pollution, but there is so much we can do in our own homes – and churches – to reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate. Read on to find out how one Australian church community has been taking on this rubbish problem.

Camden Valley Church in NSW

We’ve been so inspired by Camden Valley Church in NSW, which has been engaging actively with the Rubbish Campaign this year. Sam Fagan from Tearfund’s Church and Community Engagement team visited the church in June and encouraged people there to engage in acts of justice and mercy, just as Jesus did, through advocacy campaigns like Rubbish. Members of the church community responded not only by signing Tearfund’s petition to the Australian government calling for a strong global agreement on plastic pollution, but deciding to learn more about what they could do about plastic pollution themselves. (You can sign the petition here if you haven’t already!)

Their next step was deciding to take part in Plastic Free July. Throughout the month of July, the church held plastic-free morning teas and ran a minimal-waste winter Christmas.

“Over 100 guests were catered for, and the total rubbish to landfill after recycling coffee cups and some other items, and composting paper plates, serviettes and food waste, was less than half a household garbage bag,” said Heather Loomes, from the Camden Valley Tearfund Action Group.

They also learned more about plastic-free alternatives to everyday items.

“So that church members could try products which avoid the use of plastic which they might not have come across, we provided different giveaways each Sunday, including samples of solid shampoo and soap bars, homemade cloth bags, plastic free scourers; bamboo toothbrushes and DIY multi-purpose cleaner,” said Heather. “The giveaways were popular.”

The church thats taking action to tackle rubbish 2
Members of Camden Valley church community decided to learn more about what they could do about plastic pollution themselves.
The church thats taking action to tackle rubbish 1

Heather made use of resources provided by Tearfund to explain the environmental and social impacts of plastic, particularly on people in vulnerable communities. “The resources were so helpful in telling the story of how our use of plastic affects other people across the world, and about so many not having access to plastic recycling,” she said. “We also learned about the valuable work of waste pickers.” Read about Hamid Ali, who is a waste picker in Bangladesh, to find out a bit more about this work.

Members of the congregation reported back on some of the steps that they’ve been taking to reduce their plastic usage. Could you try some of these in your own household or church community?

“I washed and recycled food containers that I otherwise might have put straight in the bin.”

“I am avoiding plastic bread bags and tags by taking my own bag to the bakery to buy bread.”

“I brought a cup made of recycled coffee beans to use regularly.”

“I am recycling my soft plastics via RecycleSmart.”

“I am buying meat at the butcher and putting it in my own container to avoid plastic packaging for meat.”

As one person from the congregation shared: “I am so glad we are talking about this at church. It is so encouraging and so necessary.”

Emma Wyndham Chalmers, Tearfund’s head of advocacy, said it was wonderful to see individuals and church communities thinking about the changes they could make to reduce their rubbish.

“It’s so fantastic to see churches like Camden Valley getting behind the Rubbish Campaign. These are simple but significant changes we can all make to reduce our use of single-use plastics and packaging,” she said.

Add your voice to thousands of others calling for an end to plastic pollution and its impacts on people living in poverty.

Take Action Today

Emma Halgren is Content Lead at Tearfund Australia.