Beginning Ecological Practices for Orthodox Christians

Beginning Ecological Practices for Orthodox Christians

The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration

Saint James, the Apostle, tells us, “Faith without works is dead.” The ecological dimensions of our faith require earth healing actions as much as proper interactions with our neighbors. The following is a beginning list of recommended reflections and actions which Orthodox Christians can strive to engage.

As a suggestion, experience teaches that it is better not to attempt to change too much all at once. Instead take one or two practices and work to apply just those for an entire week. Then take on another practice the following week. Gradually your attitudes followed by your behavior will change. A steady, step-by- step process will allow you (and every other person) to go deeper into an ecologically benign and healing way of life than trying to do everything all at once and finding the task overwhelming. In making lifestyle change, it is helpful to follow the turtle’s example, “Go slow, but go steady.” This approach works.


* Develop a habit of prayer. Pray for the ecological healing of your habits, of your neighborhood, your parish and of the entire planet. Prayer is an essential step.
* Recycle newspaper, aluminum, glass, tin and all other wastes 
* Reuse paper bags and plastic containers
* Avoid disposable plates, cups, utensils and other throwaways 
* Utilize public transportation whenever possible
* Remember to give thanks to God for your food before meals. Being thankful for all things gives you spiritual strength to make lifestyle corrections.
* Strive to select foods that are low on the food chain
* Purchase local, organic, pesticide-free foods
* Avoid highly processed foods or foods produced at a great distance 
* Be responsible and creative with leftover food

* Establish a household energy program to reduce energy consumption.
* Remember to turn off lights or appliances when they are not in use
* Replace incandescent light bulbs with low wattage compact flourescent bulbs 
* Lower the temperature setting in your hot water heater
* Strive to become energy self-sufficient and set a neighborhood example

* Share an insight about our ecological predicament every day
* Learn about alternative ways to address consumer and earth healing issues 
* Study the lives of the great naturalists and imitate their attitude to creation
* Promote the importance of an earth healing attitude
* Help your church or parish establish a creation care study group

* Emphasize simplicity, frugality and repair in all functions of your home
* Be frugal and conserve resources as much as possible
* Remove household toxics through proper disposal
* Educate yourself to the problems of overconsumption and misuse of resources 
* Examine your life and eliminate habits that destroy the environment


* List all of the Scriptural guidances among a right care of the earth.
* Begin a discussion group about a responsible Christian lifestyle
* Encourage a study group on Christian responsibility for the environment
* Ask you pastor to include sermons that include a right care for God’s creation 
* Emphasize Church energy efficiency

* Avoid all use of styrofoam products -- they can't be recycled
* Learn about Christian theology as it applies to lifestyle and care of the earth
* Study is essential for deep and lasting progress on any issue.
* Observe the environmental sabbath and other creation-awareness days
* Sponsor a program that enhances community awareness of ecology issues 
* Establish a parish lecture series on creation care and an Orthodox lifestyle 
* Form a parish climate change study group

* Bring beauty onto your parish property
* Take time out in nature
* Learn why St. John Chrysostom tells us that nature is our best teacher
* Amplify your experience in nature by giving thanks for all in creation
* Practice consecrating your food and all of your experiences back to God


* Plant trees in your community
* Teach children about ecological wisdom and a right care for the earth
* Help an elderly neighbor care for his or her yard.
* Support cooperatives and organizations which assist farmers and consumers 
* Assist in a local trash pickup program.

* Encourage a workable neighborhood recycling program. So far, around the United States, only a small percentage of all reclaimable wastes are recycled.
* Make sure that your neighborhood is clean and an example for the larger community of cleanliness and order.
* Tackle a lake or park clean-up as a parish project which symbolizes responsibility for your town or neighborhood.
* Learn about ecological tithing. This means give up things which you might otherwise consume or use unnecessarily. You might give up a high fuel- consumption automobile and find one that is more fuel-efficient

* Consider walking or using public transportation.
* Host a study program on climate change for your community
* Invite qualified speakers to address your parish
* Promote the use of alternative energy systems, especially solar or wind 
* Learn about the dangers hidden in social media.

* Develop a local prayer group and gather regularly to reflect on our ecological condition and pray for the healing of our ecological wounds.
* Show “The Face of God” film to those in your city. * Develop a climate action plan for your parish.
* Identify what this means for lifestyle in your area. * Provide an energy audit of your parish

* Teach spiritual integrity as a component of ecological integrity
* Demonstrate examples for your community of right spiritual-ecological livelihood 
* Encourage other churches in your neighborhood into care of creation
* Find ways to offer healthy entertainment for your neighborhood
* Promote local earth healing and climate healing programs in your city.
This short list is just a beginning.
Many other practices can be added to expand and develop the range of opportunities to put Christian responsibility for God’s Earth into action.

Resources for Study Groups