During a Youth and Students for Peace (YSP) Peace Designer seminar, the young adult leaders of the Korean Evangelical Association (KEA) SungHwa in New York designed a project called “Environmental Messiah” to address the waste and single-use items accumulated weekly after Sunday Service, which contributes to the global pollution problem.
Norman Shafto, a young Unificationist with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy, has always been passionate about taking care of nature. “The Environmental Messiah Project aims to reduce the amount of waste generated at the KEA New York location and guide the community in developing a culture of environmental stewardship,” he said.
The project was originally initiated with God’s third blessing in mind ⎼ to have dominion over creation. “That means we are to care for and live harmoniously with our environment,” Norman continued.
The project officially kicked off on April 21, the day before Earth Day. That Sunday, all single-use items, such as styrofoam cups and paper plates, were replaced with reusable items. Unificationists were also encouraged to bring their own reusable cups and bottles, which they did enthusiastically. Moving forward, KEA plans to gradually switch to reusable items permanently and implement a community dishwashing schedule.
Projects like these are key to achieving a number of the Sustainable Development Goals. The reduction of toxic single-use items leads to increased health and well-being, and fosters the development of sustainable cities and communities.
Norman encourages communities to begin similar projects in other areas, stating, “Recycling is a start, but reduction is better.”