Advocacy Environment Zero Waste

Environmental Groups Praise “Zero Waste Church” Initiative in Cavite Province

A diocesan-wide effort to promote a “zero waste church” in Cavite has garnered praise from non-profit groups advocating for sustainable resource use and a toxics-free future.

Through a joint statement, the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the landmark Circular Letter No. 2019-2 issued last April 16 by Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista declaring the policy to transform the Diocese of Imus into a “zero waste church.”

The Diocese of Imus covers the entire province of Cavite and is home to over three million Catholics living in 11 vicariates with 83 parishes served by over 150 priests.

Inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment “Laudato Si,” the “zero waste church” counters the prevalent “use and throw away logic (that) generates so much waste.”

Fittingly issued in April, “the month of Planet Earth,” “zero waste management can help to solve or limit the generation of garbage in church celebrations,” the circular said.

“We congratulate Bishop Evangelista and the Diocese of Imus Ministry on Ecology for this pioneering effort that can serve as a catalyst toward ecological conversion in our parishes and homes. United in prayers and actions, we can surely green the church,” said Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator, Cavite Green Coalition.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, said: “We welcome this timely initiative by the Diocese of Imus to localize the ‘Laudato Si’ and make environmental stewardship, specifically waste prevention, an integral part of our living faith and worship.”

Both the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed their hope that the “zero waste church” initiative of the Diocese of Imus will inspire others to follow suit.

As stated in the “Laudato Si,” “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

The circular noted that “after the Mass, plastic bottles, candy wrappers, popcorn, snack food and tissue are often left behind the pews as if the house of God is a movie house.”

To hammer home the zero waste message, the circular made reference to the “miracle of the five loaves and two fish” where 5,000 people were fed by Jesus. As stated in John 6:11-12: “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

So that nothing would be wasted, the circular pointed to the importance of adopting policies that will help in conserving resources and protecting the environment.

Among the 10-point policies being promoted by the Diocese of Imus toward a “zero waste church” are as follows:

  1. Set up waste segregation boxes or bins in the convent, office and hall with proper signages.
  2. Orient all office staff and church servants on eco-spirituality, solid waste management and zero waste church.
  3. Go for energy-efficient LED lightbulbs and renewable energy sources.
  4. Use vacant lots for organic gardening, composting and fellowship area.
  5. Install rainwater catchment to conserve water.
  6. Ban plastic banderitas; use cloth, paper and other recyclable banderitas for church occasions and feasts.
  7. Use of living plants on pots, cans, and black bags for the church altar and processions to cut on flower expenses.
  8. Ban on disposable, single-use plates, glasses, spoons, forks and the like in church activities and fellowships; use reusable dinnerware and cutlery instead.
  9. Plan for and implement environmental programs that are appropriate to the needs of the church or parish.
  10. Establish a group within the church who will carry out environmental work and assist in the protection of the Creation.

“If the leaders of the church would be able to show the way for gradual change, the church servants, organizations, ministries and the community will follow,” the circular said.

According to Bishop Evangelista, zero waste management is expected to be implemented in the Diocese of Imus as soon as possible.

To emphasize that “less is more,” the circular ended with this excerpt from “Laudato Si”, which says that “Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption.”