Laura Young, aka LessWasteLaura, is a 22-year old student currently studying for her masters in Environmental Protection and Management at the University of Edinburgh joint with the SRUC. Laura has a passion for the care of the environment and has used that passion to start her own Instagram page, influence her church, Newton Mearns Baptist Church (NMBC), to become more eco-friendly and has even created her own week-long resource which her church is about to start using.
Laura was born and raised in Newton Mearns, with a strong Christian influence in her household which helped her develop a lasting faith in Christ and a passion for “the holy resource” that is the earth. She was still at NMBC until she moved to the University of Dundee to study an Undergraduate Degree in Geography and Environmental Science. Laura herself stated that “moving away to Uni – that’s when it started to become a lot more personal”. As her knowledge of the environment and our impact on it grew, her passion for changing that impact grew as well. Laura found that people would respond to this passion and start asking questions. At the beginning of the year, she decided that an online platform was needed to reach as many people as she could with her positive messages of how to live sustainable lifestyles. That online platform “LessWasteLaura”, also keeps people informed on environmental news and organise/participate in ongoing community efforts.
Since Laura started this project in January 2018 she has gain almost 3,000 followers and has managed to expand LessWasteLaura outwith the Internet and into the real world. We heard about this and decided to meet up with her and talk to her about the unique situation she is in as a young Christian Leader. During our interview, she shared with us the kind of message she wants to send out and, importantly, how she wants to send that message out:
“A lot about being environmental is actually just about taking the time out and thinking, being a bit more prepared and actually once you’ve got the resources and once you’ve figured it out it is super easy.”
At first Laura saw this project as separate from her faith and didn’t connect the two, but she has since studied Scriptures which relate to the environment and now sees that faith is linked to our care of creation. This has led to relationships forming between various organisations, with multiple opportunities opening up for her, giving her the chance to expand on this journey. Notable moments have been the work and collaboration with Tearfund looking at how climate change impacts those most vulnerable; how the work she is doing contributes to and highlights the work against this environmental degradation, and having her work highlighted through the BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought Wisdom of Youth segment looking at her environmental contribution. When we talked to Laura she highlighted Genesis 1 vs 28 and how we are called to do many things, including being good stewards of the great creation that God had made. Laura feels that we have failed at this, she believes that as Christians we have a duty to shepherd and protect this Earth and she calls all churches to be at the leading edge of this, to be the forerunners and leaders in a global revolution.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1 v 28.
Laura has commented that young children and youth are incredibly enthusiastic about helping the environment, and that the best way to get any parent do anything is to get their kids excited about it. As part of this, she has made a move towards giving talks in schools around the subjects of environmentalism and recently gave her first talk to the next generation of eco warriors at Mearns Primary School.
Laura has also been influencing her home church of NMBC by putting an ecological spin on their yearly harvest service. Laura was approached by her mother, who is an Elder at NMBC, and their Minister Brian More to create a different kind of service. Laura then came up with the idea of Eco Harvest and set about working with her friend and illustrator Nicola on the idea she had.
What Laura created is a 7-day challenge which encourages the congregation to do something environmental each day, such as walking instead of taking the car, buying products with plastic free packaging, etc. Laura has made these into small cards which also give a small blurb relating to how saving the environment links to our faith and to the Word of God. This then culminates in a big service on Harvest Sunday where they discuss the environmental tasks and what we as Christians should be doing to save the earth. This isn’t just a thing Laura wants to happen in NMBC she wants to see every church in Scotland running an Eco Harvest or something similar throughout the year. She would love churches to contact her about it.
Laura’s ultimate goal is for the church to rise up and lead the world in environmental living, She wants to see every church be sustainable and every church consider solar panels. She would like every Christian to think about this quote by Anna Lappe when they are going to buy something: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” In other words, any time you buy sustainably and with the environment in mind, you are making the choice to help save God’s Green Planet.
If you would like to see more of Laura please check out her Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Or Blog which are all linked below.
Laura is happy for any church or individual to contact her if they want to learn more about the Eco Harvest or more information about what they can do to help the environment.