20 Ways to Start Being a Zero Waste Church

Here are 20 action items to start taking your church towards zero waste. What is something you could do today?


  1. Get a team together; you can’t do this alone! Someone familiar with the church kitchen is essential as most of your waste will be generated from food waste. This team will be driving the effort.

  2. Announce, announce, announce! Let the congregation know via all avenues of communication of the zero waste initiatives the team starts.

  3. Individual year of action: visit our Year of Personal Action Program to give the congregation a monthly guide to going zero waste in their own homes.

  4. Do a trash audit. What gets thrown away each week? What can be recycled? What might be composted? Are there single-use items that could be replaced with reusables?

  5. Start recycling and look for ways to reduce what you recycle. This is a very simple way to keep trash out of landfills.

  6. Start a composting service and start composting on the grounds. You will reduce your trash by at least 1/3-1/2 once you start composting. Composting services (if available) can take items you won’t be able to compost on the grounds, like meat, dairy and compostable plates, cups, etc. Any other food waste, paper, coffee grounds, etc can be composted on the grounds in a backyard compost system.

  7. If you have a kitchen with a dishwasher replace disposable plates, cups, coffee cups and cutlery with reusable items. If you don’t have a kitchen with a dishwasher use compostable alternatives.

  8. Use real sugar and creamer in dispensers rather than single use packages.

  9. Use real spoons, pasta, or compostable wooden coffee stirrers instead of plastic.

  10. Strongly discourage plastic water bottles and use pitchers and reusable cups or compostable cups.

  11. Discourage use of individual juice boxes for Sunday School and use large containers that can be recycled with reusable or compostable cups.

  12. Take stock of Sunday School supplies – can things be reused? What has been donated? When restocking consider using craft materials that can be composted – colored pencils rather than markers, compostable craft items, rethink the pipe cleaners!

  13. Get rid of paper towels in the kitchen and use cloth instead.

  14. Compost the paper towels in the bathrooms.

  15. Let parishioners opt out of paper newsletters for electronic versions.

  16. Use prayer books and bibles rather than reprinting the entire service. Create a hospitality team to help newcomers navigate the books during worship services.

  17. Use a reusable K-cup instead of the disposable plastic.

  18. Let groups using the church know about the zero waste initiative.

  19. Use reusable containers to store food rather than plastic bags.

  20. Be patient and pray often for this initiative. Changing hearts and changing habits takes time and the Holy Spirit!




These 20 Action Items can be downloaded as a handy  one page PDF as well!