By Odilo Linzi
A multi-stakeholder approach to environmental conservation is critical for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals on environmental issues. The church is also a vital cog in promoting the protection of the planet from degradation so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations; in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Below is what the church can do in the area of waste management:
1. Clean Up Campaigns
Clean Up campaigns are by far the most popular waste management practices at community level. The church can leverage this practice by forming small groups of people whocan meet regularly to clean and pile up waste for recycling and proper composting and disposal. The rationale behind this method is to encourage members to tackle pollution outside their homes. The result will be a cleaner society and an environment sensitive community.
2. Waste cages
Waste cages are a very popular method of waste management in European cities. They can be compartmentalized, with each compartment designated for a certain type of waste e.g. Paper in Compartment 1, plastic Compartment 2, etc. Churches can leverage this method by sponsoring waste collectors to erect waste cages at strategic points within its catchment areas or on its premises.
3. Churches as buy back centres
Buy back centres are on the rise, as most companies now try to reduce costs by adopting a circular economic model. They are mainly used by big corporates as a way of social responsibility. The church can utilise this method by sponsoring or opening up their churches as buy back centres for segregated waste that their members and communities canuse.
The Church has numerous means in which it can educate its congregants about waste management and environmental care using its specialized departments, group activities and even through sermons. This entails the infusion of environmental education into theological and seminary syllabus to prepare church leaders in sensitizing their congregants and helping them once they get into active waste management in the society. In-service training programmes can be established by church leaders for congregants. This can be done through the development of a contextualized approach by the church in the area of waste management as a mechanism towards environmental care.
5. Research and policy formulation
There is a need for the church to invest in research as a strategic information tool in advising and decision making on the various environmental challenges confronting itself or its congregation or general populace. This will aid the church to comprehensively map its various waste management and environmental policies to see how they interlink with the ecological challenges confronting its congregants. The church and environmental organisations like EMA can facilitate, draft and implement grassroots oriented policies for waste management and environmental care.
The church should be encouraged to be actively involved in advocating and engaging political and environmental organisations in honest dialogue about policies that are negatively impacting the community and the environment. Such involvement can lead to increased environmentalaccountability by the on government to its citizenry.
Odilo Linzi is a waste management specialist. He writes here in his capacity and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via whatsApp on 0773376078