The UK’s Litter Army: Congregations From the Church of England
Church-goers have held ‘litter pilgrimages’ this Spring, picking up litter to make a difference in their communities.
A group of volunteers from the congregation at St. Peter’s church in Powick, Worcester got together, donned their hi-vis vests, and cleared up 24 bags of litter from around their parish in just one morning. They then sorted through the bags to identify any rubbish that could be recycled. Local scout and guides groups also joined in.
60 volunteers from St. Mary’s church in Lichfield also did their bit and joined forces with local school children to pick up litter around the community.
The Bishop of Dudley, a member of the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group is now encouraging more congregations to come together to hold their own litter pilgrimages, and collect litter while they attend a prayer walk.
The Bishop said that the pilgrimages were a perfect example of how church communities can make a difference to their local area by tackling waste. He added that if congregations around the country joined in, a lot of small actions could make a very big difference in making communities cleaner and tidier for all.
The Church of England ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ plan
The Church of England’s carbon footprint is thought to equal around one third of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide when the impact of heating and lighting churches, cathedrals, and offices is taken into account. If church schools are factored in, this adds up to over 1 million tonnes. This is as much as some of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains.
65% of the churches’ 13,000 places of worship have structural features that date from medieval times, so as you can imagine, trying to make these buildings greener has been a challenge.
Nevertheless, the church has launched an environmental campaign called Shrinking the Footprint, and it estimates that it could reduce its carbon footprint by as much as 30%, just by using energy more efficiently in cathedrals and church buildings. The churches’ Carbon Management report recommends that measures to reduce the carbon footprint should be taken including:
Modernising heating and lighting
Installing or improving boiler controls can reduce energy use by 5-25% per year.
Adjusting time switches and thermostats
Heating the church to the optimum temperature can protect against damp and reduce energy wastage. The church should ideally be kept at around 10C when it’s not in use, then increased to around 18C before the next service or event.
Zone control valves can help to keep the heating to a minimum in areas of church buildings that are rarely used, and this can bring an energy saving of 5-10% per year.
Installing or improving insulation and draught proofing
Insulating pipes can reduce heat energy loss by around 70%. It does require some financial outlay, but it can reduce heating bills by around 5%.
Insulating roofs, walls or floors can also reduce energy loss considerably, but some very old churches might not be candidates for insulation.
Stained glass windows should be properly maintained, and for all other windows, draught proofing or shutters will reduce draughts and heat loss. Single or double glazing might not be appropriate for the more historic churches, and the cost of double glazing would likely be prohibitively expensive compared to the possible energy savings.
Which forms of renewable energy are most suitable for churches?
Bio-fuels, ground source heat pumps and sometimes solar panels are great alternative forms of energy for churches.
The sources of renewable energy most likely to be of use for heating churches are bio-fuels, ground source heat pumps, or solar panels. Solar panels are ideal for churches as their roof slopes are usually south-facing, making it easy for them to collect solar energy.