At the beginning of this week I was at Priestfield Parish Church to join celebrations as it became the 300th official Eco-Congregation in Scotland.
Eco-Congregation Scotland is a national charity that supports churches of all denominations to highlight environmental issues through their work in local communities and beyond.
It was also good to hear about the interfaith aspects of Eco-Congregations as other faiths explore how they might join up with the campaign.
Churches continue to play an important role in communities across the Lothians and are well placed to provide a forum for highlighting environmental issues including climate change and tackling waste. They’re also at the sharp end of thinking about how to reduce their spending on energy bills and deliver energy efficiency in church buildings.
At Priestfield, the newly formed Eco-Congregation group will be looking to implement practical action to improve their environmental record such as looking to use recycled materials and reduce waste. They will also be looking to encourage consideration of the environment in their spiritual work.
In a wider context, the group will also consider global environmental issues and the related theme of Fairtrade. The church recently achieved Fairtrade Status for its commitment to using fairly traded produce including tea, coffee and flowers. It is also involved in the Edinburgh wide ‘Basics Bank‘ food-bank initiative and encourages donations to come from Fairtrade producers.
The Fairtrade movement is important in an environmental context as it promotes local sustainability in farming. It also delivers better prices and working conditions for some of the poorest producers in the world.
Through the resources provided by Eco-Congregations, I know that the church will continue to develop ways to promote environmental issues through its work. The involvement of students was clearly an important part of this work.
One thing that I have noticed as an MSP is the way that the charity has helped to engage people in environmental issues and encourage them to make their voices heard to organisations and decision makers. This is important as it helps push environmental issues up the political agenda and to call for action.
I was happy to lodge a motion in Parliament welcoming the naming of the 300th Eco-congregation in Scotland and I hope that the charity’s work with the many churches involved goes from strength to strength in the future.