Free from Plastic Pollution: Five Actions Congregations Can Take

In 2023, the delegates of the United Church of Christ’s 34th General Synod passed a resolution entitled “Free from Plastic Pollution.” This was the first time a denominational body in North America passed such a resolution. The resolution grounded itself in an awareness of how plastic pollution is intertwined with matters of economic and racial justice. It additionally grounded itself in an awareness of the pervasive harm done to biological life and planetary ecosystems. As such, the resolution called upon the General Synod “to speak truth to power against plastic ‘de-creation.'” All settings of the denomination were urged “to commit to changing from a disposable culture to a reusable, sustainable one.” To respond to this call, here are five suggested actions a congregation can take:

(1) Get Your Congregation Started with “Plastic Jesus: Real Faith in a Synthetic World.” This ecumenical resource from Creation Justice Ministries was released for Earth Sunday, but it can be used throughout the year. It is designed to help congregations think about the ways plastics impact our lives and God’s creation. It is also intended to equip people of faith to take actions to address the plastics epidemic in faithful and practical ways. Download the resource, and watch Derrick Weston, the lead author, introduce it in a recorded webinar.

(2) Host a video screening at your church. Options include:

  • A presentation on legislative responses to the plastics crisis by Judith Enck, the founder and director of Beyond Plastics,
  • A panel discussion with grassroots environmental justice leaders in a David vs. Goliath struggle against Formosa Plastics, one of the world’s largest plastics producers.
  • A community screening of the documentary “The Story of Plastic.” The documentary is an hour and 35 minutes, but adult education sessions can also make use of the 4-minute animated video.

(3) Form a book group. Read one of the many books on plastic pollution. Alternatively, invite people to read and discuss an article focused on raising awareness and taking action:

(4) Join or lead an advocacy campaign. Check out this sample ordinance to reduce the use of plastic bags, polystyrene, and straws. Research whether your state is taking steps to reduce plastic bags or is instead preventing local communities from enacting bans. Call on Congress to pass legislation that would move us toward a plastic-free economy.

(5) Aim to become a Zero-Waste Church. Learn from a church in Raleigh, North Carolina that did just that.

These are just a few ideas for education and action. There are plenty of additional resources on the Internet from organizations like the Sierra Club and #BreakFreeFromPlastic. There are also apps that can help you reduce plastic use.

The Rev. Robert Grabill and the Rev. Dr. Robert Shore-Goss were two of the primary authors and drivers behind this resolution. They would love to hear from congregations about how they are living out the resolution and are also available to assist in discerning how to take action. Contact either Shore-Goss or Grabill.

Categories: The Pollinator: UCC Environmental Justice Blog

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