Faith-Based Campaign Reaps Rewards For Tower Hamlets

    Tower Hamlets council is celebrating its “largest ever” rise in recycling rates after developing a faith-based campaign in five London mosques. The East London borough, which has struggled to raise its recycling rate above 8%, revealed at a London Remade meeting in the capital yesterday that rates reached 11% in March thanks to engagement with the Muslim community. Over an eight week period from February this year, recycling toolkits, information stalls, coffee sessions and sermons linking recycling to the teachings of Islam helped to encourage 20,000 worshippers to reduce, re-use and recycle their rubbish. The council worked in partnership with the London Sustainability Exchange to help access the huge Muslim population. It currently makes up almost half of residents in the borough. Robin Beattie, head of strategy programmes for environment and culture in Tower Hamlets, said: “We do not have a marketing budget for recycling and so we wanted to plug into an existing structure. “Faith groups are organised, have their own developed community infrastructure and communicate to a large audience. It’s a rich seam of positive impact local authorities can tap into.” Positive Mr Beattie said that mosques could be very inward-focused and that there were very different cultural reactions to promotional work. Yet he said that the reaction to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive. He said: “Above all there was huge enthusiasm and hunger for information on recycling – That is hard for me to understate.” By the end of the scheme, almost all of the sermon attendees gave their support to the faith-based promotional work. Around a third said they would start recycling. Mr Beattie also said that recycling provided an excellent vehicle for repairing community relationships after 7/7. “Recycling is an extremely important issue to bring communities together,” he said. “It is relevant for everyone and it is part of our community cohesion strategy. “One of our goals was to showcase the Muslim community for its good work in driving recycling forward.” Cleaner, safer The scheme was part of a five-month “Cleaner, safer” campaign, which saw recycling rates in the borough increase by 3%. Mr Beattie said: “It’s the largest rise that Tower Hamlets has achieved in such a period ever.”

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