South Belfast Quaker Meeting strives to promote an environmental ethos in many areas of the life of the community. The meeting received a well-deserved Eco-Congregation Ireland award in recognition of its eco endeavours on 7th December 2014.
Often during worship, which in the Quaker tradition is based on silence and stillness with the opportunity for anyone present to make a contribution if they feel moved to do so, someone will draw attention to an aspect of environmental practice or eco injustice, or will challenge worshipers to make a lifestyle change.
The meeting’s library includes books that promote a Christian environmental theme and environmental issues are often included in the children’s weekly programme and during all-age worship sessions. The children also have a garden where they grow vegetables.
The young people of the meeting support the charity Growing Connections – a farm where young people can connect with nature and with each other. They have visited the farm where they built mini tree houses and inspected the flume in the round house for which they raised money.
Members of the meeting have also taken part in visits arranged by Eco Quakers Ireland to Sonairte ecology centre and Castle Espie (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust).
Energy-saving bulbs are used throughout the meeting house and each radiator is fitted with a thermostatic valve. The presence of recycling bins and clearly-
labelled signs encourages all users of the premises to sort their waste. Environmentally-friendly washing up liquid is used and crockery rather than disposable cups.
Fairtrade refreshments are used and a Traidcraft stall is set up the first Sunday of each month where members can purchase a wide range of Fairtrade products.
Members are encouraged to donate unwanted clothing and bric-a-brac, which is sold in the ‘Quaker Care’ shop across the road from the meeting house. Unwanted tools are passed on to Tools for Solidarity.
In April 2013 20 members of the meeting staffed a stall at the two-day Good Life Festival at Oxford Island, Lough Neagh. During the festival visitors learned about self-sufficiency and sustainable living.
South Belfast Meeting’s eco group encourages members of the meeting to engage with environmental care and to support events organised by Friends of the Earth and other environmental organisations.
Well done to South Belfast Quaker Meeting on receiving an Eco-Congregation award … and for winning a Brighter Belfast award too!