Quakers and Climate Change

From the earliest days of the Religious Society of Friends, Quakers were concerned for the health environment, understanding human society to be fundamentally part of nature and dependent upon it’s well-being.  In 1693, William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania, US), said:

“It would go a long way to caution and direct people in their use of the world, that they
were better studied and knowing in the Creation of it.  For how could [they] find the
confidence to abuse it, while they should see the great Creator stare them in the face, in all
and every part of it?”

This sense of the incredible value of the natural world and our role in it continues to be a central thread in Quaker thinking.

So what are we doing about Climate Change – the biggest single environmental issue the world has ever faced?  We’re a small organisation but one with global connections and this gives us an insight into the way the changing climate affects communities around the world by hearing their voices via our global network FWCC.  In 2011, Quakers in Britain made a commitment to become a ‘low-carbon, sustainable community’, and through its outreach wing, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, the movement continues to campaign for wider awareness of climate and other environmental issues, as well as supporting Quaker Meetings throughout Britain in their journey towards this goal.

In simple terms, our approach to sustainability is to…

  • inform ourselves
  • take action in our own lives and Meetings
  • campaign for social change

Airton Friends Meeting buys our electricity from 100% renewable energy suppliers.  We use eco-friendly cleaning materials and avoid palm oil in our supplies.  We encourage overnight guests staying for one or two nights to use their own bedlinen or sleeping bags and towels where practical, to minimise single-use laundry.  We’re growing trees on site to help supply the future fuel needs for the warden’s residence.  Around our burial ground we’re developing a bio-diverse grassland strip and keep wildlife wood-piles to support insect populations.  We keep waste to a minimum and put all fresh fruit and vegetable peelings into compost.

There’s much further to go but along with the rest of the world, we’re on a journey, and we’re finding it to be one of discovery as we move into a new restorative relationship with the eco-systems that are home to us all.  Our hope is that by taking this journey as individuals and as a Meeting, we can argue authentically for change in society as a whole.

You can read our Friend in Residence’s open letter to the local MP about climate change here.

The Climate Café

NOTE The Climate Cafe is currently suspended pending resolution of the coronavirus situation.

From 9th March 2020, Friends in Airton are hosting a café in the Barn every Monday morning between 10am and midday.  As well as being somewhere just to drop by for a drink and a chat, the Climate Café is an information hub and a space to share concerns and ideas about climate change adaptation.

We’ll be doing what we can to make our teas, coffees and cakes as sustainable as possible – for example by sourcing locally, using organic milks or choosing low-impact and fairly traded ingredients.  The café is vegetarian and palm-oil free.  Eco-detergent top-ups are also available at a reasonable price.

Our ‘Climate Corner’ is a display of literature, some of which you can take away, or just browse through the books over a coffee.  You can also add to our ‘climate solutions tree’ by writing your ideas for simple things we can all do and hanging it on a branch; swap seeds for your garden; or take the carbon quiz to check out where the biggest issues really lie.  Finally, there’s a book-swap corner upstairs, so if you’ve just finished a cracking title, feel free to leave it for someone else and find your next read!

So if you’re in the area on a Monday morning, drop by, sample the fayre and pick up some positivity!

Find more resources on Quakers and sustainability at the Quakers in Britain website.