Divine intervention: Archbishop’s family ‘tick him off’ for his bad habits on recycling day

·3-min read
Archbishop of Canterbury - Victoria Jones/AFP
Archbishop of Canterbury - Victoria Jones/AFP

Given the bewildering array of different coloured bins which our rubbish has to be sorted into, it’s not surprising that even the most environmentally conscious households sometimes get it wrong.

And it seems that even divine guidance is not enough to prevent the Archbishop of Canterbury from making the occasional green waste faux pas.

So much so that he has admitted his family - wife Caroline and their five children - have taken to “ticking him off’’ for getting his waste food mixed up with his general waste, rather than putting it in the compost bin when throwing out the rubbish.

The Most Revd Justin Welby said on Thursday: “We’re trying to be disciplined about how we behave, like everyone else, and recycle and all that, and get out of bad habits.

“I do get ticked off by my family for automatically putting food in the bin, rather than recycling it. It’s just a small thing, but every day gets better.”

Local authorities have the power to levy fines on households who fail to sort out their recycling properly - though his own, Lambeth council, limits itself to writing to residents with advice.

It’s unlikely this was a problem faced by many of the Archbishop’s 104 predecessors, but Mr Welby doesn’t begrudge his family’s, or the council’s interventions.

He says he is committed to reducing his own environmental footprint as part of the Church of England’s wider commitment to saving the planet. Already he has ditched his diesel car and he and his family are trying to eat less meat.

But the Archbishop emphasised that individual action on its own would not be enough to tackle climate change and environmental degradation, saying companies and governments together had to lead by example.

“As I know well, changing our habits doesn’t happen overnight - it’s a constant process of improving, and it’s vital we focus on progress rather than perfection.

“We all - particularly those of us in the Global North - have our part to play in tackling climate change,” he told The Telegraph on Thursday. “But the really important thing is that we also see global action from governments and businesses, and hold each other accountable with love and compassion - as my family do to me! - when we know it’s possible to do better.”

His comments come after he, along with Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, released a joint statement ahead of the forthcoming COP26 climate summit, saying it was a “critical moment” for the future of the planet.

He told Sky News: “It’s really important, and it’s for individuals, for companies and institutions, and for governments, it can’t be left to government or left to companies, or to individuals.

“What we can do as faith leaders, is first encourage the idea of changing our attitude to the climate, of reconciliation with the creation, with which unconsciously we’ve been at war for so long and done so much damage to.”

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