Consumer environmental actions of church attenders

Recycling, composting and switching off lights are top consumer environmental actions of churchgoers.

Recycling, composting, switching off lights, reducing water use and changing diet are some of the ways people are reducing their impact on the environment. Which of these consumer actions are most commonly taken by churchgoers?

In the 2016 NCLS, churchgoers in Australia were asked to indicate any consumer actions they had taken to reduce their impact on the environment, in the last 5 years. Results show strong levels of churchgoer action in recycling, composting and switching off lights in particular, along with reducing water and energy usage at home. Some churchgoers are even changing the food they eat.

Recycling, composting and switching off lights lead the way in churchgoers' consumer actions

More than eight in ten (82%), churchgoers surveyed in 2016 indicated that they recycled or composted as much household waste as possible, in order to reduce their environmental impact. This was the top response selected by churchgoers out of a list of 7 options. A similar proportion, just under eight in ten (78%), reported switching off lights around their house.  

Around six in ten (59%) church attenders indicated they reduced their water usage in their house and garden and just over five in ten (52%) reduced gas and electricity usage in their house.  

Very few churchgoers, only 4%, stated that they had not undertaken any of the listed consumer environmental actions.

Eight in ten churchgoers recycle and compost household waste 

The top response selected by Australian church attenders in consumer environmental action was recycling and composting as much household waste as possible. This was undertaken by eight in ten (82%) of attenders, during the 5 years previous to the 2016 NCLS.

Switching lights off to reduce impact on the environment

The second most common response in consumer environmental action was switching lights off around the house whenever possible, selected by 78% of churchgoers surveyed.

Reducing water usage at home

The third top response in consumer environmental action was reducing the amount of water used around the house and in the garden, nominated by 59%, or six in ten, attenders.

Energy consumption reduced by over half of churchgoers

Approximately half of churchgoers, some 52%, reported that they had reduced the amount of gas and/or electricity they use around their house.

Solar panels installed by approximately three in ten churchgoers

Approximately three in ten churchgoers, some 29%, reported that they had installed a solar hot water system or solar panels on their house.

Changing diet

Nearly three in ten (28%) churchgoers, indicated that they had changed their diet, by eating less meat or eating seasonal food for example, as their way of reducing their impact on the environment.

With more than half of churchgoers active in most of the options listed, involvement in consumer environmental activity appears strong. Our research shows much higher rates of engagement in consumer action, rather than civic action, amongst church attenders. More information on civic actions such as voting, giving money or participating in environmental events is available in the article Civic environmental actions of church attenders.


Kathy Jacka, Miriam Pepper
Data Sources:

Powell, R. Sterland, S. Pepper, M. and Hancock, N. (2016). 2016 NCLS Attender Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.

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