This page is a monthly column lifting up different ways of caring for God’s creation
Do you have plans to do any Spring cleaning? As you clean inside your home, consider the world outside and try to use natural cleaners. To clean grout: combining baking soda and vinegar produces a reaction that causes the formation of gassy bubbles. Theses bubbles can help to break up dirt that clings to crevices, such as grout between tiles. Some light scrubbing and then subsequent rinsing can rid surfaces of hard-to-remove dirt. To clean your washing machine: use ordinary vinegar. Pour some into the drawer for the washing powder and set for a long wash. To get your microwave clean: Cut a lemon in half, place it in a cup and add some cinnamon. Place the cup in the microwave, and turn it on for 5-10 minutes at the lowest power setting. Lemon will help clean and disinfect and the cinnamon will get rid of odors.
Once again we have been certified as an Earth Care Congregation. It means that we live out our commitment to be green in 4 areas. First, we are to lift up the theme of caring for the environment in worship. We have done this through our Earth Day worship service as well as other worship services during the year. The second area is education which occurs primarily through our Green Corner column in the newsletter though we have also included care of the environment in Vacation Bible School. But it doesn’t stop there. We are also to keep the environment in mind as we make decisions of how to maintain our buildings and grounds. We do this, for example, by using our programmable thermostats, using china plates and mugs for coffee hour instead of paper and maintaining our air conditioners and furnaces. Finally, we are to be involved with others by working with them on their programs. We have done this by contributing to SUNY’s electronic recycling, participating in the farmers market with our organic Equal Exchange products, and looking for other ways to work with community programs. Being an Earth Care Congregation is not something that people are necessarily aware of all the time when involve in our congregation. But it is an important witness to the community that we recognize that our environment has been created by God and that we are called as faithful disciples to care for it.
The following is a posting from one of our church members. It is a wonderful example of the challenges of being “green.”
I have given up single-use plastics for Lent. Day one, We are in Buffalo for lunch and we don’t want to break the bank so we think fast-food, but we can’t have plastic lids on cups, also no meat for Ash Wednesday so I have the bright idea to go to Wegman’s. I am happy because they have Sushi. Then I get there and all the sushi is in plastic containers. All the fish fry is served in plastic shells. Finally find a paper plate and hit up the salad bar, pay, and check out without a drink because they are all in plastic, sit down with my food, and guess what…all the silverware is plastic too! Have to go to the kitchen and face the odd stares as I ask for a metal folk. To their credit they gave me one, but I can already tell what an eye opening 40 days this is going to be.
When incandescent bulbs were phased out, not everyone was happy. A little stockpiling happened here and there and there were undoubtedly a few comments about whether the change was worth it. Yet, for many, the change has been a positive one. For example, Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs use 75% less energy than the old incandescent bulbs. They also last 10 times longer, which is so helpful for ceiling fixtures! We may not be so fond of the fact that they brighten slowly, but we have adjusted. Still, there are two things you need to know. For those of us trained to turn off a light whenever it was not in use, be aware that turning CFLs on and off frequently can shorten their life span. So if you are coming back into a room soon, just leave the light on. Also, and this is very important, CFLs contain mercury. This means they need to be handled delicately and recycled to keep mercury out of the environment. So enjoy the savings from the bulbs, but save the environment one more way by recycling them.
Did you know that the American Medical Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and many scientists are concerned that one of the common products in anti-bacterial hand soap, or those hand sanitizers, is contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Studies have shown that washing our hands with regular soap and water removes bacteria just as well as any of these antibiotic hand soaps. So instead of adding more antibiotics to the environment, if you use liquid hand soap in your home, buy the ones that clearly state that bacteria is removed “by the rinsing of the soap off your hands.” If the Center for Disease Control is satisfied, we should be too. Increasing antibiotics in the environment harms the environment and increases the likelihood of antibiotic resistant organisms.
Solar Chautauqua Campaign Launch
Saturday March 12, 2016
10 am to 12 noon
JCC North Conference Center Bennett Road Dunkirk, NY
Solar Chautauqua is a locally-organized volunteer community outreach effort aimed at helping area homes, farms and small businesses to install solar. Solar Chautauqua will bring together competitive installers with a limited-time offer for cost saving selections to purchase, lease or share in a Community Distributed Generation (Shared Solar) program. Solar Chautauqua P.O. Box 93 Fredonia, NY 14063 www.solarchautauqua.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Use Lent as a time to make small, easy changes in your routine. Carry a re-usable bag to avoid using plastic bags (even if you recycle your plastic bags, there is effect on the environment from the production of the bag). Use a travel mug to avoid carry-out cups. End “phantom” energy loads by using a power strip to turn off electronics that use energy even when they are off, like TV’s, DVD players, and computers. Good quality LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more meaning they can last more than 25 times longer than a traditional light bulb. That is a life of more than 3 years if run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fact: though batteries generally make up less than one percent of municipal waste they account for a disproportionate amount of the toxic heavy metals in that waste. Ni-cad batteries and small sealed lead-acid batteries accounted for 75 % of the cadmium and 65 % of the lead found in landfills in 1995. What can we do? First, buy rechargeable batteries. Then recycle the ones you must dispose of. In fact you should recycle all hazardous waste around your home or ensure its safe disposal. And remember to recycle electronic devices as well. The college has an annual event at which they accept electronic equipment such as computers and printers, as do other local organizations.
The Bible is filled with references to cleanliness and purity. And in our germ phobic society, cleanliness has become an obsession. But not only are we creating health problems sometimes by being too concerned about germs, we are damaging the environment. If you wash a full load of dishes in your dishwasher (be sure to use energy efficient cycle), you are using 37% less water than if you wash those dishes by hand. But if you use a wash and rinse basin instead of running water, you cut your water usage in half. When washing clothes remember that up to 90% of the cost of washing clothes comes from heating the water so only use the hot water when you must and always rinse in cold. Many laundry soaps are now made to be used in cold water so try to use these. Of course it is also important to try to use soaps that are safe for the environment. Then when drying your clothes, if you can, hang them outside. If not, at least try to keep your dryer’s lint screen clear. A dirty lint screen can cause your drying to use up to 30% more energy.
As you may know, we have been certified as an Earth Care Congregation by the PCUSA. But the work doesn’t stop. We need to apply for recertification. You will soon be hearing more about ways we can continue to care for God’s creation. One idea is the have a car pool Sunday. Think about who you might be able to share a ride with to help save God’s good work.
A study guide from the Presbyterian Environmental Ministries office suggest the following meditation: How can you claim yourself as one of God’s human ones (“adam” in Hebrew) made from the earth’s humus or dirt (“adamah” in Hebrew) (See Genesis 2.7). What does it mean to be made from dust and to be going to dust? Consider this question and how this might influence your commitment to caring for God’s creation.