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Reducing waste and treading lightly on the earth

Two realities that are fundamental to the Catholic understanding of humanity are that we are a part of creation, not separate from it in any way, and that we are made in the image of God. These truths are described in the poetry of Genesis and one consequence of this we see there is that human kind are God's representatives in his creation to care for the rest of creation and look after it and each other.

Pope Francis has recently stressed these truths in his letter Laudato Si. He has done this because the way we have been failing to care for creation and each other has reached a dramatic point, where the world is characterised by great gulfs between the rich and powerful and the poor and powerless, and the planet itself seems to be reacting and changing because of our short term ideas of how can can use its resources. Different forms of global instability seem to be threats on the horizon to which we are moving closer all the time if we do not change our ways.

As individuals and as a parish we are only a very small part of humanity and creation, but because we are made in the image of God and given the task of caring for the rest of creation and each other, we can try and do better. Try to care for each other and creation as far as we have influence.

One practical way is for us to try to cut back on our waste. Parishes like everyone else produce waste, what we try to do is reduce the amount we produce bit by bit in every aspect of our parish life. 

As part of the diocese of Plymouth we are also committed to the objectives of Guardians of Creation, which is a collaborative programme that aims to help the Catholic community work towards a carbon-neutral and more sustainable future, inspired by the teachings of Laudato Si’.  The Bishops Conference of England and Wales has requested that we adopt a more cohesive approach particularly in sourcing the provision of energy and the contracts. Accordingly, as a parish we buy our energy from Inter Diocesan Fuel Management Ltd (IFM). This company entered into an alliance with Church Marketplace Ltd to bring renewable energy to Catholic Dioceses across England and Wales. Their collaboration means that nationally more than 3,200 parishes (and a number of Catholic schools) are in tune with the wishes expressed in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si. The carbon reduction is equivalent to taking 23,000 cars of the road. Bulk buying also saves money, and parishes have saved 5%. IFM purchases green energy, including 75% green gas (a by-product of distilling gin). 

An energy report was commissioned for a selection of eight of the churches in our diocese including ours, to see how we might reduce energy use. The report can be found here.

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