The Parish Community at St Joseph’s Dinnington confirmed their commitment to Living Simply at mass on the first Sunday of Advent last year by writing pledges to the planet. Pledges such as ’I will buy less’, ‘I will recycle unwanted stuff’, and ‘I will save energy’ were written on cards and taken up at the offertory. The pledge cards were displayed on a Christmas tree for the whole of the Advent and Christmas season.
Many people are searching for ideas about what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet and the poor, so we published a leaflet with a different theme each month with practical tips and information. Changing the focus each month helped to keep up motivation and brought new surprises such as Living Simply isn’t always difficult and doesn’t have to be about giving things up, it can also save money and it can be fun.
We wanted to give nature a helping hand by encouraging pollinating insects, so we joined the national No Mow May Movement. The church grass wasn’t cut at all during May and after that it was only cut once a month. Wonderful shows of cowslips, dandelions, pansies and all manner of wild flowers appeared that had never seen before. We were excited when a hedgehog was seen in the presbytery garden but the crowning glory was when four Bee Orchids flowered in the church lawn for the first time.
Actions speak louder than words and we changed to Environment Friendly Cleaning Materials, Recycled Toilet Paper and Recycled Printer Paper and we only serve Fairtrade tea and coffee in church now. The heating is managed more efficiently and the temperature has been turned down, water saving devices have been placed in all the toilets. We were shocked to discover that there were only a few centimetres of insulation in the presbytery loft. The insulation has been upgraded to meet modern building standards and Fr Andy is cosy now!
All these small actions by many people add up to big effects, we are sure that we have made a hole in our carbon footprint and have made the world a better, place to live in.
The poor are always in our hearts and the parish has continued to raise funds for many causes. Individuals can only do so much and so we have become campaigners for change. We joined the CAFOD Campaigns to Fix the Food System, Cancel the Debt of the world’s poorest countries and the Campaign to Clean up our Rivers to name a few. We pray that the people with power to make change happen including the Prime Minister, the World Bank and our local MP will listen and take action.
Working towards the Live Simply Award has been a wonderful journey for us. We have learned that by making small changes to our lifestyles, we can make a sustainable difference that will last much longer than our lifetimes.
The Live Simply Award is something that everyone in the parish from the youngest to the oldest can be involved with in by actions both big and small. It is a truly rewarding and empowering experience in these times when many people are searching for ways to take action. Christine Parrott