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Pledge to Use Less Plastic - Our Harvest Project

Posted by Ruth Peet on Thursday, August 29, 2019 Under: From the Vicar
Ruth's article from the September edition of the Parish Magazine

As we leave the scorching summer heat behind and move towards the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ our thoughts begin to turn towards Autumn gatherings and festivals - prime among those ... Harvest. Although the C of E doesn’t call it just ‘Harvest’ anymore, Harvest is now encompassed in the more expansive ‘Creationtide’. Whatever it’s called, last Autumn I was serving in a suburban church which raised huge questions for me about the point of bringing our marrows to church and celebrating largely rural life and customs.  

This year, of course, it’s different. Aylesford and Eccles are partly rural communities, but still ... when we are charged with the stewardship of God’s creation, will arriving at church with our carrots and broad beans be enough?

Like most people I have watched the escalating worldwide plastic problem with a heavy heart. For many of us it was David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 in 2017 that was a game changer, and there has been a huge and inspiring response, but still 8 million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped in the sea every year, and a new plastic continent, the size of Europe has formed in the Pacific ocean.

Martin Dorey, the founder of the UK Beach Clean movement, and author of ’No More Plastic’ says:

“We are drowning in the stuff, Our oceans are choking. Birds, fish, cetaceans and marine mammals are dying in their hundreds of thousands each year because of plastic. It strangles and entangles them or they mistake toxic broken fragments of it for food and die, miserably, starving to death with full stomachs. The legacy of almost 100 years of out of control plastic production is coming back to bite us. And now suddenly we are waking up to it.”

The world has been aware of marine plastic pollution in many sea creatures for years now, but the levels are continuing to rise, and our more recent discovery of the plastic pollution in us, human beings, is truly frightening. Last month scientists discovered particles of plastic falling out of the sky with snow in the Arctic, and as I write, this week, the famous dugong, Mariam, died from an infection caused by bits of plastic in her stomach.

The biggest problem is the nature of plastic itself - it’s virtually indestructible - disposable nappies, for example, will last 450 years.

We are all entrusted by God, with the care of his creation ...
Then God said, “And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small.” So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female, blessed them, and said, “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals. Genesis 1.26-28

This is not power to go to our heads, but an honour and a privilege; authority to be exercised in all humility.

Recognising this, the congregation at St. Peter and St. Paul’s, are taking the plastic problem to heart. On August 18th we launched this year’s Harvest project ... ‘Pledge to Use Less Plastic’.

We have started bringing all our plastic waste to church (to be recycled responsibly after Harvest) - the idea being to scare ourselves into understanding the scale of the problem, and it seems to be working! So many people have already said they can’t believe how much they’ve collected.

At only 9.50am on Sunday 18th August!

We are collecting ideas between us ... a supermarket challenge (can any of us find anything not wrapped in plastic?!), a sewing group to make cloth shopping bags, selling beeswax food wraps for charity and who knows what else we’ll come up with.

It appears that coffee cups, bottled water, straws and wet wipes are the biggest problem - maybe we could all find alternatives for those. That would be a huge step. We’re also researching; there are many online videos that are worth a look, not least because they will make your heart ache and so encourage change.

Our continuing programme looks like this:
1st Sep Hope - What’s being done about the problem
22nd Sep Stewardship - More on our responsibility
29th Sep Harvest Festival - Marking and celebrating our change in 
understanding, and making our pledges
17th Nov Celebration - of our successes, however small

All these are at the 8am and 10am Sunday services.

If you have any ideas, please come and get involved. Call me (01622 717434) or email ( 
or come to church, maybe, for Harvest Festival.

To end, this month, a prayer from Bishop Steven Croft: 

Creator of our common home, you fill the earth and sea and sky with life. Forgive us our neglect of your creation, the choking waste of our pollution, the damage done by careless habits and our indifference to future generations. Help us to amend our lives, to refuse more plastic if we can’t reuse it, to lift our voice for lasting change and to live well and gently on the earth. To the glory of your Son, the Living Word, through whom you made this fragile world. Amen.

Every blessing, Ruth.

In : From the Vicar