Environmental activities of churchgoers

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

Almost all church attenders say they care for the earth by taking consumer actions to reduce their impact on the environment. Recycling, composting and switching off lights remain the most common actions. Solar panels have seen a rise in usage.

In the 2016 and 2021 National Church Life Surveys (2016 NCLS, 2021 NCLS) Australian churchgoers were asked to indicate any consumer actions they had taken to reduce their impact on the environment. Results show strong levels of churchgoer action in recycling and composting, and switching off lights in particular, along with reducing water and energy usage at home. Some churchgoers are installing solar panels while others are changing their diet.


Recycling and composting

Recycling and composting are the top consumer environmental actions undertaken  by churchgoers.

Almost 9 in 10 churchgoers surveyed in 2021 (86%) indicate that they recycle or compost as much household waste as possible to reduce their environmental impact. This has risen from 82% in 2016.


Switching off lights to reduce environmental impact

Switching off lights is the second most common response in consumer environmental action. Just under 8 in 10 (77%) report switching off lights around their house, a similar rate as in 2016 (78%). 


Reducing water usage at home

The third top response in consumer environmental action is reducing the amount of water used around the house and in the garden. 

In the 2021 NCLS, over half (55%) of church attenders indicated they reduced their water usage in their house and garden. This is 4 percentage points down since 2016 (59%), but still indicates an important engagement by churchgoers.  


Energy consumption and use

Just under half of the churchgoers surveyed (46%) say they reduce gas and electricity use around the house. This has dropped 6 percentage points since 2016, when 52% of churchgoers said they’d made these energy savings.


Solar power alternatives

Over a third (36%) report they have solar hot water systems or solar panels installed on their house. This is a 7 percentage point rise since the 2016 survey, when only 29% of attenders reported using the alternative energy option of solar panels. 


Changing diet

Just over one fifth (23%) of churchgoers indicate that they changed their diet, for example, by eating less meat or eating seasonal food, as their way of reducing their impact on the environment, down from 28% of churchgoers in 2016.  

The findings from the 2021 NCLS show that it appears that involvement in consumer environmental activity remains strong. More than half of churchgoers are active in three of the options listed. Recycling, composting and switching off lights remain the most common actions. A marked increase in solar panel uptake is seen.


Read factsheet: Environmental activities of church attenders

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