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Use of Plastic

Submitted by Harald Rueckert
Committee Moves to Adopt 35 to 2
Plenary Vote on Main Motion (Consent Calendar);
For: 686; Against: 36

The whole earth is God’s good creation and has as such an inherent value. We are aware that the current utilization of energy resources threatens this creation fundamentally. As members of The United Methodist Church we are committed to caring for creation and, especially, to responsible handling of its resources.

In its call to action “God’s Renewed Creation”, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church calls for the practice of environmental holiness to conserve natural resources including the use of only renewable resources in every gathering and every ministry of our congregations and church. An important expression of this is to reduce the amount of plastic we use during our church’s meetings.

This issue has a global impact, not only because of the pervasive presence of microplastic, including in our oceans and in our food. Plastic production and disposal also cause the emission of greenhouse gases. In 2019, the volume of such emissions to mid-year alone was 850 million tons. Across the globe, churched and unchurchedpeople are reducing their use of plastic because of its impact on the climate. Resolution 1031 ("Resolution on Global Warming," The Book of Resolutions, 2012) resolves "that (church-)members should make an effort to learn about human production and release of greenhouse gases and evaluate their own lifestyles to identify areas where reductions in production and release of greenhouse gases can be made. […] [and] that members should also work to make their own congregations more aware of the issue of global warming and create policies and practices which reduce greenhouse gas emissions from congregational infrastructure." This includes not only church buildings, parsonages and vehicles but also single way dishes, plastic bags, wrapping material. Building on the experience of communities worldwide and of annual and central conferences (e.g., Germany) who have started the journey toward comprehensive mandatory concepts reducing the use of plastic in daily life and especially at church events, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church resolves

1. that for all church activities of local, annual, central, jurisdictional, and General Conference bodies, a twofold strategy of avoiding (avoiding plastic where possible, replacing single-use plastic items such as dishes, coffee cups, or bags with items made of recyclable, preferably naturally occurring material) and reducing (e.g., using dishes that can be washed and reused) is to be pursued;

2. that all delegates commit to personal action of the same kind, modeling a change in behavior for the sake of environmental protection.

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