Environmental activities of churches

A wide range of environmental activities are reported by churches.

What types of environmental activities are seen at local churches? The 2021 NCLS asked churches about the actions they have taken toward environmental care. Over the past decade, churches have noticeably increased their commitment to recycling, purchasing environmentally friendly consumables, and including environmental concerns in their church services.

In National Church Life Surveys over the past decade, churches across 20 denominations were surveyed about their environmental activities. Out of a selection of 7 options they could indicate all that applied to their church. 


Usual environmental activities of churches

When asked to report on a series of environmental activities they perform on a usual basis, local churches were most commonly active in collecting recyclables, purchasing environmentally friendly consumables, and including environmental concerns in their worship services. 

The activities with the largest increases were purchasing environmentally friendly consumables (47%, up 17 percentage points since 2016) and including environmental concerns in their worship services (38%, up 11 percentage points since 2016). Collecting recyclables also saw an increase (50%, up 10 percentage points since 2016).

A small proportion of churches reported composting food wastes (12%), providing information to attenders to help them be more environmentally friendly (9%), and sourcing environmentally friendly food for meals at church (8%).


Churches were also asked which social services or social action activities they provide or run. Two of the options pertained to environmental concern, namely environmental activities such as Landcare and animal welfare activities.

Environmental activities such as Landcare were cited by only 5% of churches, and animal welfare activities were cited by only 0.4%.

The reason for this is uncertain. It could be that churchgoers are less interested in these kinds of activities, or more likely they are harder to organise or require more resources.




As communities draw together around initiatives to care for the environment, churches appear to be increasingly active in this area. 

With marked increases in recycling, purchasing environmentally friendly products and incorporating environmental concerns in worship services—especially between 2016 and 2021—it appears that church concern for and involvement in environmental activities could be on the rise.


Read the fact sheet: Environmental activities of churches

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