Step 2 - Reduce Community Impacts

Now it’s time to get practical! Getting your place of worship to lead by example is a great starting point.

Solar panels on presbytery roof, Our Lady of Fatima, Kingsgrove parish, NSW

Now it’s time to get practical! Getting your place of worship to lead by example is a great starting point.

Community is powerful in shaping who we are, our values, our habits. Whether spoken or unspoken, the culture we create in these communities can make a big impact. How your faith community talks and acts about climate change when you are together can have a powerful effect, both on the wider community and on how individuals will think about their habits at home. We want to equip you to help it become a part of everyday conversation and the actions of your faith community to connect with and care for Creation.

The main impacts on climate change fall into one of the following three categories:

  • energy
  • transport
  • consumption and waste

You may wish to pick one at a time to work on, or instigate a number of small initiatives across different areas. The following pages provide a number of ideas for you to choose from or gain inspiration from.


Energy use can be thought of in terms of where the energy we use comes from (generation) and how much of it we use. Making changes to both can substantially lessen the contribution of your faith community to climate change.

Energy generation

Energy generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore climate change. Changing the source of your faith community’s energy will make a big difference to its environmental impact.


There are a number of ways that you can change the source, and the easiest way is switching to GreenPower. 100% GreenPower costs a little extra, but means that all the energy consumed is from certificated renewable energy. Lower percentages are available which cost less but of course are not 100% renewable. You can also consider installing solar panels on your buildings, as the rooftops of our buildings are a vast untapped potential for capturing energy from the sun and it is likely that you will generate more than you use and therefore it will become a source of income as well as net electricity generator! In addition, you can switch to solar (or solar-assisted) hot water, if you have buildings that have a significant need for hot water, or, if you are using renewable power, install a heat-pump hot water system to avoid fossil fuel use entirely.

Energy use – and saving

Addressing climate change is not just about renewable energy. It is also about reducing our energy consumption in the first place. If our electricity demand goes down, the need for electricity generation also decreases and we reduce the impact on the natural environment. Besides this, actually reducing your energy consumption has the added benefit of reducing your energy bill.


To reduce your energy consumption, get an energy audit done at your place of worship. This helps you to identify where you can save energy. This might be as simple as turning off the lights and heating when not in use, making use of blinds or shades to prevent your building from heating up on hot days, or changing to energy-efficient light bulbs. It might also include suggestions for insulating your buildings, or upgrading your appliances to energy efficient models.

Here's a suggested activity:

    • ‘Switching off’ worship service: At the beginning of the worship service, ask people to completely switch off their mobile phones and any other devices. Invite people to walk around the building, switching off all lights, appliances and power points (except for the fridge if there is one!), and ask people as they return, to sit together in silence. Ask people to reflect on how it felt to be asked to switch off their devices, and what might be reasons behind any resistance we felt to switching off. How did it feel to be literally ‘switching off’ together as a community? What benefits are there to switching off, for the planet, for the community, and spiritually speaking as individuals? What would be the impacts of ‘switching off’ regularly – literally and in our minds and bodies? Get people to brainstorm ways that the community can reduce its energy use or change to renewable energy generation. If appropriate, light a candle (or invite people to light individual candles) and read out or hand out relevant verses about light, darkness and stillness for people to meditate on (suggestions are at the end of the ‘Tools for Reflection’ section,
    • Another idea would be to hold a ‘switching off’ dinner or other activity for Earth Hour marked annually in March.  




We all have to get around - but often we assume that the fastest, cheapest or most convenient option is best, without considering the impact on our environment. C02 from transport is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it’s our daily transport, whether we choose to use the phone or computer instead of travelling to meetings or how we choose to go on holidays, we need to think differently about how we get around. We need to start factoring in the cost to the environment as well. Perhaps our bodies and minds would also benefit from a little less frenetic a pace.


We can help our faith communities become more conscious about transport by starting with thinking about how we all travel to our place of worship, and if there are other alternatives to consider that are not only better for the environment, but also help draw our community together. ARRCC’s annual event to encourage walking or cycling to worship is one way that you can encourage your faith community to get around differently, but your community might come up with other ideas too.

Here are suggested activities to get your faith community thinking about transport:

  • Visually map where people in your faith community live by getting people to come and put a pin on a map. Mark where your faith community is with a large red dot.
  • Get people to draw their journey from home to your place of worship, and write or draw what form of transport they normally use to get there. If they drive, get them to write down how many spare seats they have in their car.
  • The idea is not to make people feel guilty about their mode of transport, but to provide a visual mapping tool that can prompt ideas for connecting with others nearby that they could share travel with, and get ideas from others.
  • What benefits are there, apart from environmental ones, to thinking differently about how we travel to our place of worship, and everywhere else?
  • Brainstorm different ways that as a community, you could travel to your place of worship with minimum impact on the environment. Are there options to car pool or use a car share, to take public transport together, to organise a ‘walking bus’ or cycle together? Promoting an easy-to-use carbon offset scheme is another way to help people to respond.
  • How can you take these ideas and apply them to travel in your everyday lives?



Consumption and waste

Our society is addicted to stuff. We have an assumption that more is better, and that we all need to own everything individually. We are told by subliminal marketing and the media that unless we have things, we won’t be acceptable and that there is no such thing as enough. We are told that it is cheaper to buy new than to repair, even if this exploits workers in the production processes.– So products are quickly disposable, contributing to landfill and of course it consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels to produce these new goods. Greenhouse gas emissions from landfill further harm our atmosphere. It is not only consumer goods that are an issue. Food waste is also a problem. For example, Sustainability Victoria estimates that food is about 40% of what is thrown out by Victorian households. Rotting food in landfill releases methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. How can our faith communities expose marketing hype for what it is, and instead model a life-giving alternative? 

The food we choose to eat also has an impact on climate change. Meat production has a much larger environmental impact than vegetables and grains and the emissions from the long distance transportation that much of our food requires to get to our tables, is something we need to be conscious of as well. We can encourage our communities to think about LOAF (local, organic, animal-friendly, fairly traded) principles when considering their ‘daily bread’. How can we also be more aware of the waste we create and reducing it or in the case of compostable waste, even returning it to the earth as nourishment? Thinking about consumption doesn’t just stop with reducing what we use and how we use it, but also involves considering the fair distribution of resources. How can we consume less so that resources can be freed up to support the world’s poorest who are hit hardest by the impacts of climate change? How can we become more aware of their stories and needs?


Poverty remains an issue in Australia. However, for most Australians the possibilities for cutting down our consumption and becoming aware of how we consume are endless, and we can be creative in the way we do this.

With your team, discuss:

  • What do your teachings say about consumption - how can you get your community talking about what is ‘enough’ and how our consumption impacts the planet as well as our spirituality?
  • What are all the resources that your community ‘consumes’ together? Think about the quantity, quality, where it is sourced, and how the environmental impact of these could be reduced.
  • What sort of waste does your faith community produce and do you know how much there is of it and where it goes? How can you make your faith community aware of this?
  • What does your faith community do with your waste? Are all possible recycling options in place? Does it avoid disposable cutlery, plates and glasses?

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • If your faith community shares meals together, brainstorm how these meals can be sustainably sourced - with local produce, vegetarian, with minimum packaging and processing and thinking about where the waste will go too. How could you educate your community about the environmental impact of food and LOAF principles as you eat together?
  • Could you set up a worm farm or compost at your faith community?
  • Does your community use a lot of papers? (Orders of service etc). Does it ensure they are recycled? Are they double sided? What are other options to using disposable paper?
  • Could you host a creative event that helps people think differently about consumption - an up-cycling or refashioning workshop, a clothes swap etc?
  • Are there possibilities to set up a register for your faith community to share appliances, tools or other resources?


Go to:

Step3 S2S