Having reached the target for achieving a Bronze award, we are working on trying to tread more lightly on the planet, and hoping to attain the Silver Eco Church award. Part of what we need to do is improve our collective contribution in our normal lifestyle and activities, at home and at church.
Weekly or fortnightly hints on things you can do to make a difference will be provided on the pew sheet and listed here as well.
1. Are you one of the people who walks or cycles to church from in the city centre or nearby, or from the bus stop or the railway station? Would you find it easier or better to walk or cycle if the provisions were better? Have your say about Norfolk County Council’s proposals for improving walking and cycling in the city centre area!The survey is here: https://norfolk.citizenspace.com/community.../norwichlcwip/ and the closing date is 28th June.
For more info, ask Catherine Rowett.
2. Eco church isn’t about being perfect. Only God is capable of that. Instead, it is about taking a step forward, in whatever way we can.
Each of us has an environmental footprint which represents how heavily we tread on the planet and its limited resources. Why not take a few minutes to calculate your footprint, and think about ways you could start to reduce it?
WWF provides a free, quick and easy questionnaire about your travel, household bills, food and waste, and then invites you to see what small changes can make you a better steward of God’s earth.
It takes less than 5 minutes to complete.
For more info, ask Sam Ruddock.
3. Hopefully you have been able to visit the website suggested last week and are now looking to see how you can improve on your environmental footprint. It would be good to start by looking at ways in which we can reduce our personal energy consumption. Throughout your daily routine consider how much energy you are using. Consider whether it is necessary to be using as much or whether there is a more economic way to provide the energy.
www.moneysupermarket.com/gas-and-electricity/energy-saving-tips/ provides some useful tips on energy savings and our pew sheet notes will provide further ideas in the following weeks.
For more info, ask Sallie Eastick.
4. Applying the 'Three Rs' can help you minimise waste and live more sustainably. Here are three ideas you may not have thought of:Recycle: Many items which can't go in your home recycling bin can still be recycled. Look out for collection bins at large supermarkets, for recycling items like water filters or printer cartridges. Or find charities and schools which use recycling schemes for fundraising.
Reduce: Borrow or hire items you only need to use once, or infrequently, like tools or party decorations.
Reuse: Save water by watering your plants with leftover water from cooking vegetables.
For more suggestions, ask Megan.
5. A generation ago 70% of children walked to school and 60% of journeys to work were by bicycle. (Three guesses what the current statistics are!) The best way to get back to living within the planet’s resources, and keeping healthy into old age, would be to get back to active travel: for work, school, shopping, and going to church!
If you haven’t got a bicycle right now, how about trying the Beryl bikes? They’re fun and handy: pick one up from the station if you’ve come in from the country by train, or from near the Cathedral after church, ride it to where you want to be, and leave it at the bike bay nearest to your destination. It’s that easy. If that’s uphill, why not try the electric ones? It’s about 5p per minute for the pedal bikes or 10p a minute for an e-bike. Or try out an e-scooter for a really novel experience! They’ll all be free in Car Free week in September so that would be a good time to try, if not before. To get started you’ll just need to download the app to your smart phone.
For more info, ask Catherine.
6. Christ taught that eating and drinking glorifies God.
LOAF can help you reduce your impact on the planet.
L-ocally produced - Buying food from local sources means fewer climate-damaging food miles.
O-rganic food uses less fossil fuel, avoids nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser, and builds up carbon in the soil.
A-nimal-friendly. To lower carbon and methane emissions, we all need to eat much less meat and dairy.
F-airtrade. Where buying food from outside the UK, buy Fairtrade wherever possible.
Ernie's Zero Waste shop on Magdalen Street, and local veg boxes are a great place to start.
For more info, ask Megan.
7. The past fifteen months has impacted on the mental health of us all to a greater or lesser extent.Being among nature can help promote our wellbeing and we can do this together with helping to heal the way we have mistreated our beautiful world.
We can help care for God's earth, within our own homes—leave part of your lawn unmown, allowing the grasses and wild flowers to attract insects; plant bee loving plants; sow wild flowers on a small part of your garden to offset in a small way the loss of 97% of our wildflower meadows since the 1960s.
On a wider scale, join a litter picking group in your area, helping undo the tide of strewn litter in our parks and open spaces.
So doing, you are meeting others, helping restore the beautiful earth God has provided for us as well as promoting the wellbeing of yourself and others.
For more info, ask Sallie Eastick
8. Making changes to become better stewards of God's earth starts with examining our current habits. The charity A Rocha UK has a lifestyle audit leaflet on its website which can guide you through assessing the environmental impact of your current lifestyle and thinking about practical changes you can make.http://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/resources
9. Buying goods that are “fairtrade” or ethically traded is an important choice that we can make in our daily shopping. Many products on supermarket shelves look like good value for money, but that’s only because the supermarket (or the supplier) has pushed down the price paid to the producer, leaving many workers in developing countries earning too little for survival, and forcing people to work in risky conditions, for extremely low pay, just so that we can avoid paying the true cost of our goods. Look out for fairtrade marks on imported items like chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar, and “rainforest alliance” marks on coffee and other goods that don’t cause damage to the local ecosystem where they are produced. As Christians, we care just as much about the lives and livelihoods of those eking out a precarious existence growing coffee on the other side of the world, as we do about the needs of our neighbours close to home: we are all God’s children and our lifestyle should not be sustained to the detriment of our brethren overseas or of their water supplies, health, safety, education or family life.
10. Have you thought about the power you have to use your savings wisely towards good outcomes for others, or to provide capital for enterprises that don't harm the planet and don't exploit the workers? Various ethical investment schemes are available, or you can look for ethical investment managers, pension schemes, or specialist banks that undertake to put your money into good projects. Some high street banks also advertise particular funds that have "ethics" among their criteria, though look out for those that are jumping on the bandwagon in superficial ways. We can't offer advice on where or how to invest your money, but some of us already have savings invested in schemes of this kind, so feel free to ask us about our personal experiences.
11. Bee-friendly plants are a key part of creating an eco-friendly garden, but did you know that different types of bees need different types of flowers? Some love 'open' flowers like raspberry blossoms and echinacea, while bumblebees with their long tongues prefer tubular flowers like foxglove.Flowers with 'double' or frilly petals should be avoided as these are not accessible to bees and often have little to no nectar or pollen anyway.
12. Do you buy bodywash in disposable plastic containers? You can help minimise plastic waste by buying bars of soap instead. See what other things can help you switch away from plastic too.
13. With all the concern about energy prices and shortages, we might be wondering what we should do, given that most of us still depend on gas and electricity from fossil fuels for cooking and heating. It’s good to transfer to a 100% renewable energy company (not just a renewable tariff in a dirty company), and if it goes bust, to move again to another green supplier. But our priority should be to reduce usage at home and at work: ventilation is good but solve any wasteful draughts and add some secondary glazing if you can; and sign up for a smart meter to help you see what's using the most energy. You might find that it's pointless to turn off the heating in the middle of the day, for example! Instead, keep the thermostat low, pop on a woolly, and take breaks for vigorous exercise to warm up. And open the curtains wide to let the sun in, but close them for warmth at night!
14. A recent survey among young people confirmed, what we are already aware of, that many of our young people are deeply saddened by the threat of climate change, being afraid, angry, a feeling of powerlessness, despair and grief. Our entries under the eco church on our weekly pew sheets have offered some suggestions where we can help in a small way to stem the threat that climate change brings. Why not use these suggestions to start a conversation with those young people amongst your family and friends, show that we want to do our bit, that we do care, and discuss with them how they feel they can help.
15. As we move forward towards a silver award, we will be thinking about ways in which our churchyard can be a haven for nature and biodiversity in the city. Do you fancy looking after our compost heap? Maintaining a bird 🐦 feeder? Keeping bees 🐝 here? Or adding a hedgehog 🦔 house or insect 🐞 hotel? All ideas and volunteers welcome! Speak to John Brydon
16. Plastic pollution is among the worst environmental threats—arguably worse than carbon dioxide, because it won’t be solved with trees. We need to blanket refuse to buy anything that is made of, or packaged in, plastic. Which is hard! One way to start is to get milk and juice delivered by the milkman in returnable glass bottles. It’s so nice to find a pint of fresh milk on the doorstep, and if you choose organic milk you’re also helping good sustainable farming. To find a local milkman who delivers to your road try this site: https://www.findmeamilkman.net/
17. With rising energy prices, it's important to find new ways of reducing energy use. Using a microwave to heat food is more energy efficient than using an oven. Or use a slow cooker (they use about as much energy as a light bulb) to make warming winder meals. By finding greener ways of cooking, we can help both our pockets and our planet.
18. Sometimes saving some money on our energy bills doesn't need to be hard or uncomfortable. Maybe you've been trying to turn off the heating for part of the day? Actually, surprisingly enough, that may not be saving any fuel. If you've got a smart meter, use it to discover how much gas or electricity you use if the heating is on all day, and compare it with how much it uses if you turn it off for part of the day. Letting the house get cold means you use a lot of energy trying to warm up cold walls when you turn it on again (and that may cause damp and condensation). Often it's cheaper, better and greener just to use the thermostat, keeping it moderately warm all day.
19. Need to buy something? Think second-hand first when making new purchases.
A message for Christmas 2021: Christmas can have a big impact on our environment, but there are many ways we can all make our Christmas dinners greener. Look for UK-grown produce to reduce food miles and try to use seasonal fruits and vegetables like cranberries, pears, cabbages, and sprouts. Freeze vegetable peels and trimmings and use them later to makea stock. Also look for foods with minimal packaging, try reducing your meat consumption this year, and buy only as much as you need to avoid food waste and enjoy a Christmas meal that won't cost the earth.
A sample new Year's resolution from Sam: This year my resolution is simple: to love more. Love God, love people. Love the planet by loving what I already have and striving to reduce my use of resources. I don’t need more because I am already perfectly loved, accepted, secure, and significant in God. I will strive to be a conduit for that perfect love I receive freely every day.