20 Ways to Get Your Church Thinking Green, Going Green
By Trinity Temple/Visitor Staff
Going green may be really popular right now, but adopting a green mindset is not always easy. Committed Earth stewardship involves multiple phases including thinking green and acting green, said Trinity Temple’s communication director. Members at Allegheny East Conference’s Trinity Temple in Newark, New Jersey, are taking several steps to make their church more environmentally friendly. Interested in a greener church? There are hundreds of ways to go, but here are just 20 steps that Trinity Temple has adopted:
1. Explain to members that the money saved on energy can be better used on ministries not utilities.
2. Put one or more environmentally enthusiastic people on the planning team.
3. Get congregation support for environmental responsibility, when it applies.
4. Make the change convenient. (For example, have recycling bins clearly marked and in high traffic locations).
5. Ask for corporate assistance or sponsorship when appropriate. (Some environmentally-friendly companies are willing to lend or donate products or services, or make them available at a discount).
6. When you get the "it’s too expensive" excuse, talk about the total cost, which include the health, social, and environmental costs of not making the change. When there is extra expense, talk about it in terms of investing in a better future. Try making a case for the extra expense as a mission expense––the costs of living out one’s faith.
7. Develop guidelines for the use of the church kitchen, which include environmentally responsible measures. This will multiply your impact and create a policy framework for future events staged in the church.
8. Develop rental use agreements for your church and/or other buildings, which include environmentally responsible procedures.
9. If you are serving food, make place mats explaining what you are doing and why it is related to the environment.
10. Put announcements, articles, graphics, facts about what we need to do and why in church bulletins, on bulletin boards, in conference newsletters, in the bathrooms etc., to move people toward greater environmental responsibility.
Taking Green Action
1. UTILIZE SMART SWITCHES, POWER STRIPS, AND POWER GAUGES: Smart switches and power strips automatically shut off appliances that are not in use or allow you to switch off several appliances at once with the flip of a switch. Power gauges report how much energy is being used on each appliance over multiple time periods.
2. USE THE INTERNET: There are services that keep everything online so that you don't need paper versions and can access them from any computer or portable device. Paying bills on line and using email is often faster and cheaper.
3. OCCUPANCY SENSOR LIGHT SWITCH: Motion-sensing switches saves hundreds of dollars annually in energy that would other wise be wasted when someone forgets to turn off the lights.
4. THERMOSTATS: Programmable thermostats ease the pressure of having someone come in to turn the heat or air conditioning on or off. Also adjusting the thermostat up or down by just three degrees not only saves hundreds of dollars annually but will keep 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
5. PROPER INSULATION: A properly insulated and sealed building prevents heat and cool air from escaping keeping a building warmer or cooler longer. Weather stripping and caulking is one way of sealing windows and doors.
6. ENERGY STAR rated products use less energy and results in greater savings. Using appliances with Energy Star ratings can save hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs.
7. CHEMICALS AND PESTICIDES in cleaning products and in landscaping products can pollute ground water. Natural cleaning products such as baking soda, vinegar, and ammonia are effective without the harmful side effects to the environment.
8. IMPLEMENT A ZERO-WASTE PROGRAM in church offices to ensure that all waste is recycled, reused, or composted. Print the church bulletin on both sides of a sheet of paper, add a message to all church handouts and documents asking for them to be recycled.
9. BUY ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHT BULBS. They are more expensive than the incandescent light bulbs but they last for 5-10 years so the cost is minimal. If everyone changed just one light bulb it would be equivalent to saving the carbon emissions on 800,000 cars.
10. INSTALLING ELECTRIC HAND DRYERS in public restrooms cuts down significantly on maintenance and uses very little electricity, which reduces paper waste.
Remember these suggestions are only a few in a long list of ways to go green. So look around you. Trinity Temple members scouted the Internet and found a lot of help using energystar.gov, eere.energy.gov, and their local power company’s web site, coned.com. LaFayette Trawick, Trinity’s communication director, says, “This list demonstrates what we are doing to get started going green but we are not going to stop here.”