Ely church twins its bins to help tackle rubbish-related poverty

Many churches are increasingly passionate about tackling the climate crisis and taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. St Mary’s in Ely is taking grand strides.

This Cambridgeshire church is in the thick of a major renovation project – making its building more accessible to the community, and installing air-source heat pumps.

The congregation have also thrown their weight behind our campaign to tackle the global waste crisis – by ‘twinning’ their bins. Bin Twinning helps fund social enterprises overseas that are setting up bin collections and recycling projects in vulnerable communities.

More than 150 bins in St Mary’s Church and members’ homes are now ‘twinned’.

St Mary’s treasurer Piers Coutts says that the church committed a monthly amount to Bin Twinning from general funds – but many members took the initiative to heart and donated personally.

‘The visual link between our own bins and the needs of people overseas is a great way of bringing the waste problem home to each of us,’ says Piers. ‘I think we each have a responsibility to address environmental damage and tackle climate change. We as a church have a dual responsibility, in what we do as well as what we teach.’

Globally, 2 billion people don’t have any kind of waste collection. In lower-income countries, over 90 per cent of waste is dumped or burned, with devastating impacts on the environment and health. 

St Mary’s generosity is nothing new. The church donated more than £10,000 to our Toilet Twinning campaign in 2020. Several church members took on sponsored challenges during lockdown, including brothers William and Alexander who walked 500 miles between them.

‘Many of us have several loos at home and a regular rubbish collection,’ says Rev Chris Hill, rector at St Mary’s. ‘The campaigns have brought home to us just how privileged we are, and have captured people’s imagination.’