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New Zealand churches challenged to give up plastic for July

Posted on: July 12, 2019 2:35 PM
Photo Credit: Matthew Gollop / Pixabay

[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] July has been designated a “plastic free month” by the Anglican Social Justice Network in New Zealand. The network is encouraging churches to join in the challenge. The plastic-free July challenge originated in 2011 as a pilot scheme rolled out by five groups in Western Australia, and it has now snowballed into a millions-strong worldwide movement that continues to grow.

During the ‘Plastic-free July’ challenge, community groups and social organisations cut out single-use plastic within their community activities for the month of July each year.

Churches are among a range of groups taking on the challenge to cut out single-use plastic within their community activities for the month. Many other organisations and groups are joining in including pre-schools, public libraries, temples and diving clubs.

Green campaigner Cynthia Greensill, who spearheaded a shift to reusable fabric bags for a low cost fruit and veg scheme at her parish in North Dunedin, said cutting out plastic was one way the group was aiming to improve its sustainability.

‘‘We want to reduce the amount of plastic being used so we are collecting re-usable cotton bags that customers can bring back and use each week,” she said. “As soon as we tried to go plastic-free we realised how much plastic was sneaking in to our church life without us even realising it.”

Community groups who sign on to the plastic-free July spend a month working out how to cut their use of single-use plastic to zero: including the top layers of waste such as disposable plastic cutlery, cling-film, plates and straws, but also working to avoid plastic wrappers, plastic milk and water bottles and plastic coffee bags.

The campaign also encourages groups to lobby government to regulate against single use plastics, and to advocate for the return of plastic-free alternatives.

Project Officer at the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, Nicholas Pande, has responsibility for food security, health, environmental conservation and climate change adaptation.

Writing for the Anglican Alliance on waste and how the Anglican church in Kenya is responding, he said, “The church has been involved locally, sensitising people to managing waste and disposing it with sensitivity to the environment. The church has always approached it from the angle that we have the responsibility to steward the environment, so don’t dispose waste irresponsibly. . . So the church has had the messaging across the congregations that waste is not godly.”