Lighting up the new year!

How St Peter’s folks are taking steps to live more sustainably

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It was early on a Sunday morning in December and Sarah Smith had a confused look on her face. ‘You want me to wrap the cross in tin foil...?’‘

Yes please!’ I said, as if it was completely normal, passing her a roll and some sellotape. ‘And then if you could put the cross back on the altar that would be great’.

That morning St Peter’s held a Light Service - a special service where we reflected (quite literally) on creation, justice and poverty. Sarah’s tin foil cross shone, surrounded by fairy lights as we thought about what it meant to be the light of the world, as Jesus calls us to be (Matthew 15:14). I spoke, sharing some sad news about the negative impact that humans are having on the earth - such as droughts and flooding caused by climate change, which affects the poorest people the most, and the rising levels of plastic pollution in our oceans. But I also had hopeful stories to share from my work at the charity Tearfund- such as the simple solar lamp that brought light to Isabelle in Tanzania, enabling the safe delivery of her baby son; and of people I’ve met like Dora, Caroline, Gerry and Hannington - Christians who are taking daily steps to live more sustainably, and joining in with God’s great restoration plan to bring about justice and renew the world.

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One by one, we placed candles around the shiny cross, to represent the actions we would take in our own lives to make a difference. Many of us also signed Tearfund postcards calling on the World Bank to provide renewable energy to more people living in poverty overseas. By the end, the altar was covered with light.

After the service I was getting tea when Peter Wolstenholme came over. “I want to talk to you about renewable energy”, he said. “I’m thinking of changing our supplier at home.” Later on I got a text from Jo Hossain, our lovely worship leader, saying “I think I’m going to stop buying red meat. Inspired today to make small changes!”

It got me wondering what else St Peter’s people are doing to live more sustainably - which, let’s face it, often saves money too. So I asked around, and here are their top tips!

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Selene Jordan: “I don’t do very much… I need to be better educated about it! But I do use a reusable cup for hot takeaway drinks and a reusable or glass bottle for cold drinks!”

Janine Shearer: “I try to save paper - reusing it, and being careful with photocopying - printing on both sides of the sheet etc. As a teacher I also encourage other teachers not to use food in art projects (e.g. pasta pictures!), as it’s such a waste of food.”


Michael Salmon: “I buy in bulk as much as I can - it’s cheaper and you also don’t use so much packaging. I’ve also started eating less red meat too, choosing chicken instead of beef for example.”

Charlie Davies: “I'm going to buy a Guppy bag to wash all my synthetic clothes in as it stops the water system and the sealife being polluted with microfibres that otherwise get into the water.”

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Helen Taylor: “We’ve stopped eating meat at home. We buy quite a lot of clothes from charity shops or share children’s clothes to reduce how much we buy. One other thing we did was use Nate’s old paintings as wrapping paper for Christmas and birthday presents!”

Nick Wyke: “It’s good to make better use of the freezer, especially with leftovers, and making sure you date and label food so you know when it needs to be eaten by.”

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Clare Lyons: “I was shocked to discover that a plastic toothbrush can’t be recycled, and takes about 500 years to break down in landfill. So I’ve switched to a bamboo toothbrush - this can be composted or it will just biodegrade, and works just the same as a plastic brush. You can buy them online or in health food shops and they cost about £3 each. I love mine!”

Jo Hossain: “I’ve started using shampoo bars instead of bottles of shampoo. It cleans your hair just the same, it lasts for ages - a lot longer than a bottle of shampoo does- and it saves using a plastic bottle.”

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Anna Shipton: “We knew that a lot of baby things (nappies, wipes etc) aren’t great for the environment so we started using these things called Cheeky Wipes. They are reusable/washable cotton wipes and they are more effective than baby wipes as they’re like flannels - you can do a lot more with a Cheeky Wipe than with a disposable wipe. They’ve been good for our kids’ skin too.”

Patrick Malone (our vicar, who had a whole host of tips- too many to print all here!): “It’s good to save water - only fill the kettle for what you need, take fewer baths and more showers. On food, eat less red meat and more veg, and planning meals can reduce food waste. If you run a car, think about switching to a hybrid or an electric model. It’s coming anyway, so be an early adopter! And switch to a green energy supplier, like Ecotricity.”

So that tin foil cross isn’t the only thing that is shining - St Peter’s people are bringing light and hope through their actions each day. I’m really encouraged by all that you’re doing to live more sustainably- let’s keep going!

You can find out more tips to live more sustainably on the Tearfund website.

by Clare Lyons