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DoSER Public Engagement Award

Kira Smiley, Stanford University

Mormons and the Environment: Building Gospel-Based Environmental Stewardship

This project focused on engaging the communities of university students and young adults who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in the Stanford/Palo Alto area. The purpose was to build awareness of environmental and climate science, and sustainability, connecting it to principles within LDS doctrine. Through workshops and social media engagement, members were taught sustainable science principles with the goal of achieving zero waste by June 2019 at the local church building.


Commentary from Kira Smiley on the project accomplishments, 2/13/2020:

  • Workshop on sustainability and the environment and how religious principles align with good environmental stewardship.
  • Posts to the congregation Facebook page on interesting speeches, or resources that relate to sustainability and climate change.
  • [Purchasing] compostable materials and large compost bins for events and potlucks instead of the traditional plastic (my dream is still to move to reusable!).
  • Signage around the church building by all the waste receptacles to educate and announcements at each social event with food about how to divert waste.
  • Working with another student to create a sustainability purchasing guide.
  • Bringing together 40 young professional/student congregation members to volunteer at a local park with the nonprofit Grassroots Ecology to plant native seedlings in a local park.

We're continuing to expand, but often someone will come up to me at church and say, "Guess what? I composted at home today," or, "I was going to throw something away but I thought about what you had said and recycled instead!" Changing human behavior and patterns is incredibly challenging, but it's nice to see bit by bit a change in the community and a shift towards incorporating sustainability with a slightly deeper understanding of how it connects to values, faith, and community.

Young adult LDS members planting native seedlings at a local park in the Palo Alto area
Young adult LDS members planting native seedlings at a local park in the Palo Alto area. Photo courtesy K. Smiley.

The Gospel and Environmental Stewardship presentation. Click icon to download.