MAGAZINE: Practical suggestions to reduce your carbon footprint

Letter from a Member of the Ministry Team. Iffley Parish Magazine, July 2021.

In the February issue of the Parish Magazine, we discussed the recent resolutions within the Church of England to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. We talked about what this means and the challenge  for us as Christians in our efforts to understand better what it is to care for creation. Crucially this means understanding our own individual carbon footprint and the part each one of us plays in the footprint of our family, our church, our community and the country as a whole.

The good news since then is that as a church we have got one step further in understanding the carbon footprint of St Mary’s Iffley and have had this recognised by A Rocha with the first level, bronze, of their awards for Eco Church actions. We are beginning to gather information about our carbon footprint as a church and have had a series of ACT NOW talks which were part of a collaboration with other local environment groups in Oxford, called Communities for Zero Carbon.

The online talks tackled three of the most practical issues:

  • Waste
  • Food
  • Home energy

A fourth session introduced the practicalities of planting fruit trees as part of Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon’s (RHILC) campaign to encourage community tree planting. This was included as an initiative of an important local campaign with which members of our Eco Church group are associated, though the talk had less to say about the wider issues of climate change.

Each of the other three talks had a large number of very practical suggestions and got people thinking about their own behaviours. There were contributions from a variety of speakers which drew attention to the online and other resources provided by local organisations. The session on home energy had two detailed ‘case studies’ provided by house holders who had undertaken significant improvements in the carbon emissions of their own homes. One downside was that the stories were mainly relevant to home owners rather than people in rented accommodation.

Here are a few juicy examples of the kinds of information which made me sit up and can be found on the websites of Low Carbon Oxford North and Low Carbon West Oxford. You can listen to each of the talks, pick up copies of the slides and find more detailed summaries of the presentations.

  • 8-10% of global human made greenhouse gas emissions are from food waste, and 70% of food waste comes from households.
  • If we didn’t throw away food for one day in the UK, this would be the equivalent of planting one million trees.
  • Food production accounts for about 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The average person throws away £210 of food a year.
  • 20% of all UK CO2 comes from our homes, about half from gas and half from electricity

There are lots of really informative websites signposted in these links. One of my favourites “Love food hate waste” provides food storage advice for a whole alphabet of different foods. If you need financial help, various grants are available. For example, no-interest loans are available for residents of Rose Hill and Iffley who use Cosy Homes Oxfordshire for energy efficiency measures in their homes. (For info, email We will not try to signpost here all the helpful suggestions which were made during the Act Now Talks. Please do find the materials for yourself and by all means tell us what you found helpful or not!

Returning to my point at the beginning of this letter, we hope that more and more members of St Mary’s, Iffley, will take an interest in the work being done to quantify our church’s Carbon Footprint and will consider starting their own Carbon Footprint Conversations. If you need ideas about where to start, we have lots. Contact any of the Eco Church core group or put a message in St Mary’s Eco Chat WhatsApp.

Tom Leach

To subscribe to the Parish Magazine, please contact Michael Sinclair,, 01865 438251. Subscriptions cost only £5.00 per year for 12 monthly issues, including free delivery within the parish.