5 Ways to Make Your Church More Eco-Friendly

5 Ways to Make Your Church More Eco-Friendly April 28, 2024

A clean, magnificent, white church
An eco-friendly church
Photo by Justin Main on Unsplash

Faith and sustainability should go hand in hand. Christians have a moral obligation to be stewards of God’s creations. How can a church be eco-friendly? How challenging is it? With these five tips, you can reduce your place of worship’s waste, water usage and carbon footprint.

“We must never forget that the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone.” – Pope Francis

1. Develop a Circular Mindset

Be an active participant in the circular economy. It lets you cut the trash you generate and help conserve virgin resources. Circularity is about replicating the biological cycle for inorganic waste. Organic material doesn’t turn into waste. Instead, it becomes a positive component of nature after serving its original purpose.

Inorganic substances don’t biodegrade. Microorganisms can’t decompose plastic and metal items — if at all. Non-biodegradable materials linger longer in the environment. They endanger various creatures while they’re around.

Making your place of worship circular doesn’t mean avoiding inorganic goods altogether. This route is infeasible because these products serve practical purposes. Instead, you can adopt a circular mindset by:

  • Going minimalist to prevent unnecessary consumption.
  • Using reusable things.
  • Choosing biodegradable goods or products from renewable sources when possible.
  • Recycling single-use items you can’t avoid.
  • Sharing items to prevent duplicate ownership.
  • Renting stuff instead of owning.
  • Extending the service life of everything through proper maintenance.
  • Giving away unwanted possessions to those who may need them.
  • Repurposing broken objects.
  • Get useless things refurbished, remanufactured or recycled.

Embracing circularity goes against the conventions of modern living. Slowly but surely, you can get the hang out of it by reevaluating every decision you make.

Say you want to expand the square footage of your tabernacle, chapel, shrine, monastery, cathedral or basilica. Choose building materials and decorations derived from renewable resources — such as adobe, bamboo, cork and laminated timber. Using less concrete, steel and aluminum is the key to a greener project.

2. Have Churchyard Native Plants

Save water with native shrubs and trees. These plants drink less than those not acclimated to local weather. Their thick foliage provides abundant shade to slow water evaporation. This way, your lawn can remain hydrated longer and need less upkeep.

The environmental benefits of native trees don’t stop there. They prevent flooding by absorbing rainwater runoff. Subsequently, they prevent soil erosion and keep the ground nutrient-rich. Their roots filter out pollutants and keep water sources free of contaminants.

Aside from keeping water fresh, native trees help improve air quality inside and outside the building when paired with indoor plants. They keep outdoor temperatures low, discouraging ozone formation. Their leaves temporarily catch 2.5-diameter particulate matter before it winds up in the soil or precipitation dissolves it.

Greenery mitigates the urban heat island effect, reducing the need for air conditioning. A naturally comfortable environment requires less electricity, which means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Vegetation is a carbon sink, so it helps combat climate change.

As do indoor plants, native trees have strength in numbers. Individual seedlings have limited purifying potential but can make a difference when working as a group.

3. Go Electric

Ditch anything that runs on fossil fuels. Their greenhouse gas emissions are making the world too warm for comfort. Plus, they pollute the air within the church.

Switching to electric appliances is a giant leap to sustainability. Devices — such as a geothermal heat pump and an electric generator — release no air contaminants.

Electricity may still come from a coal or natural gas power plant. Consider investing in renewable energy to ensure your church operates with zero carbon emissions. You can buy photovoltaic panels to turn sunlight into electricity. Alternatively, get into a power purchase agreement and let someone else build and maintain your infrastructure.

Moreover, upgrade to an electric vehicle (EV). EVs release no smoke, so they keep the air fresh. Turn your parking area into charging stations to encourage members to transition to emission-free motoring.

4. Target a Green Certification

Get your church certified for being an eco-friendly building. It’s the ultimate testament to sustainability commitment.

Approval from reputable certifiers validates your green initiatives. Some sustainability certifications focus on one area while others consider various aspects of environmental responsibility. Certifications use distinct rating systems. They may undergo periodic review, so they’re subject to change.

Look for a green certification relevant to your property and sustainability goals. Study how it works to know its minimum requirements and ways to earn points to pass its audit.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most popular sustainability certification. If you want your existing building certified, aim for LEED for Operations and Maintenance. This certification focuses on performance-oriented sustainable strategies and outcomes. Learn what it takes to earn it before starting your church improvement project.

Getting certified offers numerous benefits. It generates free press — an opportunity to tell the public what your parish is about and promote your faith.

Sustainability is all the rage because Earth Day — an awareness campaign that started in 1970 — is now a global phenomenon. Making it the subject of your marketing strategy to attract new members, bring back old ones, increase mass attendance and boost TV viewership and online engagement is promising.

5. Plan Nature-Friendly Events

Hold your gatherings outdoors to minimize their impact on the environment. Indoor events necessitate space heating or air conditioning, which is eco-friendly some of the time because fossil fuels account for 60% of the United States’ energy mix.

Scout for beautiful natural locations instead of renting commercial venues. Fun environmentally conscious church event ideas include: 

  • Organizing a picnic at church grounds where members can socialize with one another’s families.
  • Arranging a long-distance walking or running race through a neighborhood to raise funds for a green project.
  • Turning your yard into a farmers market to drive demand for seasonal crops, rewarding local food producers for promoting agricultural diversity and good health.
  • Throwing a block party in a parish open to all residents to meet non-members and spread your message.
  • Conducting Bible reading sessions under a tree with children.
  • Creating a community garden at your vacant land where everyone can grow produce to feel more connected to nature and be in control of what they eat.
  • Launching a carnival at your premises where members can set up stalls and sell goods.
  • Orchestrating a kids soccer tournament to promote camaraderie and motivate children to attend masses to see their friends.

The less travel involved, the more eco-friendly the event will be. Outdoor events may be impractical or inconvenient in some months when you experience extreme seasonal weather. Plan your church’s events calendar accordingly to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

Caring for the Environment Is God’s Work

Making your church eco-friendly is a significant win for sustainability. Preaching the merits of environmental responsibility to your congregation and doing the above five can inspire thousands, if not millions, of people across various generations to become more socially conscious in their ways.

Browse Our Archives