Happy New Year! At a time when everyone is beginning to implement their new year’s resolution to make life changes, why not consider making 2013 the year you reduced your carbon footprint and helped the community at large by planting a sustainable vegetable garden. Below are five interfaith organizations and resources, which can guide you in making some green changes around your home and in your house of worship.
GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. They aim to connect individuals and religious leaders to understanding that protecting the environment is a religious obligation. Take a look at their religious teachings section, where they list Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist and Jewish literature advocating on behalf of the environment. Especially useful are their start up kits for beginning to renew your house of worship or individual space into a green environment. They list three easy first steps to approaching becoming green as an individual, such as making a vegetarian dinner today or turning your thermometer down by 1 degree! Additionally they have a list of issues and action kits that you can browse through if you like to pursue environmental advocacy through a faith perspective.
The mission of Interfaith Power & Light is to be faithful stewards of creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. They’re upcoming action project for is a national “Preach-In”, and also provide sample sermons to give ministers and lay leaders ideas on what to say during worship, which include sermons written by Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Baha’i and Buddhist leaders. On the website you can also order a Preach-In kit to start mobilizing your religious community to prepare for the action on Feb 8-10th. Another great resource that IPL provides can be for either lay leaders or community organizers are their list of study guides. The one free study guide, Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change, is particularly helpful as it was written from a Baha’i’s perspective, but with interfaith participants in mind. The group study is set up for 9 classes of about 2 hours each, a great way to bring your religious or interfaith community together to learn about climate change.
IYCJ’s mission is to contribute to a more just and sustainable society by empowering a new generation of leaders for climate justice, diverse youth inspired by their faith. The year-long program is free and for students active in local congregations in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. They provide three retreats a year, monthly meetings and paid internships over the summer for youth. Check out their teaching model, and if you know of any teens in this region pass on the application to them.
#4. Green Muslims
Green Muslims seek to emphasize the responsibility of environmental stewardship in American Muslim communities by building partnerships with a spectrum of organizations and interfaith communities. Consider throwing an interfaith iftar potluck during Ramadan to get to know your Muslim neighbors, Green Muslims has provided a guide to hosting a Green Iftar. Another great resource provided by Green Muslims that everyone can use is the No Impact Guide, which challenges to reduce their carbon footprint in just seven days.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle pioneers innovative, transformative solutions designed to end hunger in local communities. The Plant a Row resource they provide on their website is an excellent way to practice being green in 2013, and helping alleviate hunger in your community. Plant a vegetable row in your yard, and then donate them to your local interfaith shelter. Why gardening? According to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, approximately 30.3% of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight and 15.3% are obese, and studies show a link between food insecurity and obesity. Gardening provides physical activity, stress relief, family bonding, community building, and most important fresh food for eating. Think about growing vegetables in your yard or in a local community garden and then organizing a delivery to a nearby shelter.
These resources are just a starting point for learning about going green and what diverse faith traditions say about being responsible about taking care of our environments. Think about getting in touch with some of the organizations listed above to adapt and replicate some of the programs in your community.
If you know of any another resources and ideas around interfaith environmental sustainability in local communities, please feel free to leave a link in the comments and we’ll share them via Twitter! 🙂