Part of our parish Creation Care Mission Statement invites us to pattern our daily lives as caretakers of Creation. Many of us are trying to make our daily habits “greener”, so let’s try together! Use this list of eleven changes and challenges you could undertake. These small but significant actions are ways to pattern our daily lives as caretakers of God’s creation. Complete FIVE of these ELEVEN challenges in July, August, and September, and receive a badge! You may participate individually or as a household.
1. Reduce the impact of your diet. Meat (especially beef) and dairy are the foods with the greatest negative environmental impact. If you eat meat most days, eat meat one less day a week for at least four weeks. If you eat dairy most days, go without dairy for one day a week for at least four weeks.
2. Reduce your use of disposables. If you often buy bottled water, get a good-quality reusable water bottle and work on the habit of using it. If you often buy coffee when you’re out and about, get a good-quality reusable coffee cup and work on the habit of using it. (Many coffeeshops give a small discount for using your own mug!) If you often buy drinks that come with a straw, work on keeping a reusable straw with you and telling people, “I don’t need a straw, thanks!”
3. Take a walk through St. Dunstan’s woods. If you don’t know where the path is, ask around!
4. Audit your home recycling. Find out the name of the company that picks up your recycling, and read about their recycling policies. Now, check your home recycling. Are you recycling the right things, in the right condition (e.g. cans & food containers should be clean and dry; plastic bags need to stuffed into each other to make a basketball-sized bag; etc.)? Improve your habits!
5. Audit your laundry habits. Many people don’t realize that a significant part of the environmental impact of our clothing is in washing them: the water and electricity used, the chemicals in detergent, and the fibers that wash out of garments made from artificial fibers. Here are three tips for greener laundry:
- Only wash clothes when they really need it. Many of us toss a garment in the hamper as soon as we take it off, but maybe that sweater or those jeans could be worn again, or even a few times, before it’s really soiled or smelly enough to need a wash!
- Use a detergent that’s environmentally gentle. Read labels!
- Read up on microplastics and laundry, and consider buying fewer artificial-fiber clothing in future – polyester fleece and acrylic sweaters are particular culprits, and very common in our closets!
6. Fix something instead of replacing it. We throw away many things that could be mended. Lost button, tear or stain on a treasured piece of clothing? Loose connection on a lamp cord? Broken piece of jewelry? You might be able to fix it with a little research and effort – or you might know someone who can! Ask around, or post fix-it projects on the St. Dunstan’s MadCity Facebook group!
7. Learn to identify three new species – of plant, tree, bird, animal, etc. Notice a living thing that you see often but don’t know the name of. Identify it (using the Internet or knowledgeable friends) and read about it a little. Now, do that two more times!
8. Participate in a Spirituality in Nature gathering at St. Dunstan’s. Look for dates in the weekly announcements! If you really can’t attend, pick one of the practices here, try it out in a beloved place, & tell Rev. Miranda about it afterwards.
9. Eliminate a plastic container or other single-use plastic from your life. Recycling is far from a perfect solution; we all need to use less plastic to begin with. Do you need body wash that comes in a plastic bottle, or could you use a bar of soap that simply comes wrapped in paper (or nothing at all)? Do you need to buy a new bottle of liquid hand soap every time, or could you buy refills – or take your bottle to Willy Street Market to refill? Do you need a plastic bag for those three avocados at the grocery store, or could you just put them in your cart loose? Could you shift your soft drink consumption from plastic bottles to aluminum cans, which are substantially easier to recycle? Could you use plastic or paper bags from the grocery store for your household trash, instead of buying plastic bags for the purpose?
10. Eat something picked yesterday or today. The easiest way to do this is by growing something yourself, but if you aren’t able to do that, shop at a farmer’s market or a farm stand, or talk with friends who have gardens and see if they have extras to share, or would like to barter (a batch of cookies for a pint of berries, for example)!
11. Make your own! Is there a step towards living more gently on the Earth that you’ve been considering? Do it, and tell us about it!