Let’s go green
As our winter earth is thawing and turning green, let's turn our thoughts once again to making our church, homes and businesses as green as we can. Jan orders for the church - and her home - cups, trash bags and paper plates through a user and environmental friendly company called http://www,LetsGoGreen.biz . They have offered a special wholesale deal to nonprofit groups and have invited her to share this coupon with our church members. So, here's the code. Be a FRIEND of Earth and try it out! Many thanks!
UNION CHURCH SUPPORTS GREEN POWER - AND SO CAN YOU
Last fall the Mission Committee decided to convert Union Church from traditional non-renewable electricity to green renewable electricity offered through Maine Interfaith Power and Light (MEIPL) and Central Maine Power. MEIPL is a nonprofit organization that offers Maine residents, businesses and organizations affordable clean power products as a part of its mission to address global climate change.
Unfortunately, CMP has suspended the program so it is no longer possible to purchase renewable energy directly in Maine. In our commitment to remain environmentally responsible, we have now sourced an alternative to our original plan and will be supporting green power with our purchase of Wind Watts from the Mars Hill Wind Farm in northern Maine, through MEIPL.
The Wind Watts allow us to support alternative power which is the next best thing to buying it directly. We will continue to practice energy conservation of course and work to get green power in our area. Wind Watts are renewable energy certificates (RECs). Each REC represents the delivery of one thousand kilo-watts (one megawatt-hour) of renewable power into the electric power “grid” and displaces the nonrenewable fossil fuels or nuclear power that would have otherwise been used to generate this power. As a point of reference, an average residential consumer uses about 800 kilo-watt hours (kWh) In a month. Union Church uses roughly 2500 kWh per year or approximately 200 kWh per month. The result is a benefit to the environment that is the same as it would be if you installed wind turbines on your own home or business.
Renewable energy is energy (electricity and heat) generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, water, plants and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished) and will never run out. The world currently relies heavily on coal, oil and natural gas for its energy. These are fossil fuels which are nonrenewable, that is, they draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve.
The electricity purchased from renewable energy sources, such as Wind Watts, is called green power or clean power. Green power and renewable energy avoid most of the environmental impacts associated with traditional power generation, helping protect human health and the health of the environment. Buying RECs helps drive the market for renewable energy diversifies our energy supply and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels.
RECs (also known as renewable energy credits, green tags, offsets, green energy certificates) were created by the EPA to make it easy for consumers to participate in using renewable energy. When we buy certificates equivalent to the amount of energy we use in our church, we can completely offset the environmental effects of our energy use, because someone, somewhere along the grid, is using renewable energy paid for by our certificates.
A popular incentive for buying RECs is to make the claim that our energy use is carbon neutral (zero carbon footprint achieving zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon releases with an equivalent amount offset) and hence does not contribute to global warming. This approach allows us to avoid the environmental impact (the carbon dioxide emissions) of our electricity, since the REC represents a specific amount of avoided greenhouse gas emissions. RECs can be selected based on the generation resource (e.g. wind, solar, geothermal). We purchased wind.
Union Church has purchased fourteen Wind Watts at a cost of $20 per watt. This is enough to offset close to five year’s use of electricity at Union Church. A typical Maine household would need to buy six Wind Watts at $20 each to offset a year’s worth of electricity, which breaks down to roughly 31 cents per day. To purchase your Wind Watts or for more information, visit www.meipl.org .
- by Beth Baskin
First Edition – 2009
There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet. ~Brooke Medicine Eagle...
FROM THE GREEN TEAM
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There is no shortage of advice out there about ways to cut back on carbon emissions, or what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Even in trying to compile relatively basic information for Union Church, we’ve collected stacks of printouts and numerous brochures from environmental websites and utility companies.
There’s so much information out there now, it almost feels like too much.
It is true that you can’t fix everything all at once, but one of the biggest mistakes we can make is thinking that, because we’re only one or two, we’re unable to have any significant impact and, consequently, we end up doing nothing at all. The fact is we must think positively and realize even the small things we can do add up quickly. Some of the suggestions below may appear to be obvious, or some of them may not be practical for your situation. Hopefully, though, even just an increased awareness can help motivate us each to incorporate some change into our daily routines. Use common sense, prioritize, and don’t agonize too much. Think about what you are able to sustain and remember, if you have trouble reaching your goal in one area there is always something else you can do in another.
Here’s a list of simple things. Some you can do immediately at no cost; others may require a little more effort and up-front investment but can help you save money in the longer term:
· CHANGE BULBS – replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a CFL (compact fluorescent bulb.) CFLs use up to 75% less energy than a regular bulb. If you have incandescent light fixtures where you can’t or don’t want to use a CFL, install dimmer switches. Dimming shaves a bit off an incandescent bulb’s energy use and makes the bulb last longer (Note: Some dimmable CFLs are starting to show up on store shelves, but most CFLs currently available cannot be used with dimmer switches). To pick out a CFL that will give off the familiar warm glow of incandescents, look for bulbs labeled “soft whites” with a Kelvin of 2,700k. To complement warmer colors in a room, pick “warm white” CFLs with Kelvins ranging from 3,000k-3,500k. Full-spectrum or “daylight” bulbs emulate natural light and have a color temperature of 5,000k or higher.
· SHORTEN YOUR DAILY SHOWER BY 5 MINUTES – saves close to 5,000 gallons of water, or about $100, a year. To maximize the energy savings, avoid power showers and consider using low-flow showerheads, which are cheap and provide the same comfort. Take a shower instead of a bath. A shower takes up to four times less energy than a bath.
· MOVE YOUR THERMOSTAT DOWN 2 DEGREES IN WINTER AND UP 2 DEGREES IN SUMMER – almost half of the energy we use in our home goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2000# (pounds) of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. At night or when you’re away, turn it sown even further, to 55-60 degrees (a programmable thermostat can do this automatically.) For each degree you set back your thermostat you can save 25-30 gallons of heating oil per year. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioning to save 350# of carbon emissions a year
· LEAVE SHADES AND BLINDS open on sunny days but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat loss through windows. On hot days, close window coverings on the S and W sides to keep your home cooler.
· TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN NOT IN USE (lights, TV, DVD, stereo, computer, etc., etc.) Eliminate “phantom load” (any appliance or electronic that uses energy even when turned off) by unplugging electronics when not in use. Plug all components of a computer or home entertainment system into a power strip. Turn off the power strip with a single switch. Anything plugged into the strip now is truly turned off. Unplug rarely used appliances. Nearly 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are off; in a year this can add up to more than $40.
· USE LESS HOT WATER – It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500# of carbon emissions saved per year) instead of hot. Cold wash your clothes 4 out of 5 loads. 85% of the energy used to machine wash clothes is in heating the water. Make the most of your hot water by insulating your hot water heater tank and by keeping the temperature at 120 degrees or below.
· USE A CLOTHESLINE INSTEAD OF A DRYER whenever possible. You can save 700# of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year. Many newer clothes dryers have moisture sensors that shut off the heat when they detect that the clothes are dry. If your dryer has this feature, try not to over dry your clothes. Operating the dryer for an extra 15 minutes per load can cost as much as $34 per year, according to Energy Star. Consider hanging an indoor clothes line in your basement.
· USE YOUR DISHWASHER AND WASHING MACHINE only when they are full. You can save 3,400 gallons of water per year according to Energy Star, by washing full loads. If you need to use it when it’s ½ full, then use the ½ full or economy setting. There is also no need to set the temperatures high. Nowadays detergents are so efficient that they get your clothes and dishes clean at low temperatures. Don’t rinse the dishes under running water. Just scrape them and put them in the dishwasher. Skip the dry cycle and use the “energy saver” or “light” wash cycle. Buy concentrated laundry detergent so you get more product per package.
· BUY LOCALLY GROWN AND PRODUCED FOODS; BUY ORGANIC AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE - The average meal travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in our community. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If all our corn and soybeans were grown organically, we would remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
· COMPOST – recycle your organic waste. Food waste that winds up in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane accounts for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. Take charge of your greenhouse gas emissions by composting food scraps. We will teach you how.
· JUNK YOUR JUNK MAIL - The average American receives 41# of junk mail every year. More than 100 million trees’ worth of bulk mail arrives in American mail boxes each year. That’s the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every four months. Use online forms to eliminate most of your unwanted mail at www.newdream.org/junkmail/optout.php.
· BREAK THE BOTTLED WATER HABIT – Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 cars for a year. 86% of plastic water bottles used in the United States are not recycled. According to the EPA, over 90% of tap water domestically meets or exceeds their strict safety standards. Furthermore, studies show that at least 40% of bottled water is just tap water. If you do not feel comfortable drinking your tap water, consider installing a filter on your faucet or getting a filtered water pitcher you can keep in your refrigerator. For water on the go, invest in a safe, reusable bottle (look for BPA free or aluminum bottles). Reusing a disposable water or soda bottle is actually unsafe, as the plastic will begin leaking toxins into your beverage after a short period of time or due to temperature changes.
· FIX A LEAK – Leaky toilet flappers, faucets, and other valves are easy to fix and usually require only a few tools and hardware. Over 1 trillion gallons of water leaks from US homes each year. Visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak/howto.htm for guidance on fixing leaks.
· BUY PAPER PRODUCTS MADE FROM RECYCLED PAPER – 297,000 trees, 122 million gallons of water, 2 million cubic feet of landfill space, and 60% less energy in manufacturing would be saved if every US household replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled tissue. Find brands that are recommended, which can do better, and those that should be avoided at all costs at www.greenpeace.org/tissueguide.
RECYCLE WITH FREECYCLE
FREECYCLE provides venue to get rid of unwanted items
The Freecycle Network’s mission statement is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources and eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.
The Freecycle Network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson’s downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. The Network provides individuals and non-profits an electronic forum to “recycle” unwanted items. One person’s trash can truly be another’s treasure. When you want to find a new home for something – whether it’s a chair, a fax machine, piano, or an old door – you simply send an e-mail offering it to members of the local Freecycle group.
Or, maybe you’re looking to acquire something yourself. Simply respond to a member’s offer, and you just might get it. After that, it’s up to the giver to decide who receives the gift and to set up a safe pick-up time and location for passing on the item. The main rule is that everything posted must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages.
The Freecycle network is made up of many individual groups across the globe – including Biddeford, Portland, and Southern Maine. Freecycle provides an online medium for individuals and non-profits to offer and receive free items for recycling or reuse. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Membership is free.
To become a Freecycle member, one must subscribe to a Freecycle group that is specific to their locale. Once subscribed, they begin to receive e-mails from fellow Freecycle members who have items to offer. Members can also post their “want” for an item. When an e-mail is submitted to Freecycle, it is first delivered to a moderator who checks for appropriate content and then distributes the e-mail to all members of the group, collectively called “the list.”
To join the Biddeford Freecycle group, go to
To join the Southern Maine group, go to
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freecycleSOUTHERN ME/ (insert _ between SOUTHERN_ME)
To join the Portland group, go to
The City of Saco has a swap shop that allows you to get rid of unwanted items as well.
Joining is easy because the website is very user friendly. The link is
http://www.sacomaine.org/departments/publicworks/swapshop.shtml When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. - John Muir
There is enough for all. The earth is a generous mother; she will provide in plentiful
abundance, food for all her children if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and in peace." Bourke Coekran
LOCAL HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION DAYS 2009
Mark your calendars
Residents of Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough have opportunities to dispose of household hazardous wastes. The four communities are joining forces to offer hazardous waste collection days. Any resident of the four municipalities may attend any of the events. Proof of residency (such as a driver’s license or tax bill) is required.
No commercial or non-resident waste will be accepted. The following materials will be accepted: fluorescent bulbs, mothballs, drain cleaners, furniture polish, metal polish, photo chemicals, spot remover, floor cleaner, upholstery cleaner, button batteries, rechargeable batteries, old chemistry sets, rust inhibitors, wood preservative, paint thinner, solvents, oil based paint, degreasers, sealants, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, chlordane, insect sprays, rodent killers, no-pest strips, pool chemicals, antifreeze, brake fluid, engine degreaser, gasoline, kerosene.
The following materials will not be accepted: pathological waste, radioactive waste, latex paint*, tires, explosives, smoke detectors, propane cylinders, computers*, commercial waste, unknown materials.
To ensure safety, please: tighten caps and lids, leave material in original labeled containers, sort chemicals separately, pack containers in sturdy upright boxes (don’t place in garbage bags) and drive directly to site of drop off, never smoke near chemicals, never mix chemicals.
For further questions call Saco public Works at 284-6641.
*Discard latex paint by filling paint can with cat litter and throwing away in regular trash. Computers can be recycled at Goodwill. Recycle printers, computer towers and copy machines at Biddeford Public Works for .20/lb and monitors and TV’s for .05/lb. Recycle cell phones at the public library or where you purchased them.
Community Supported Agriculture in York County, Maine
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA involves customers who buy shares in a farm, usually paying before the growing season begins in order to support the farmer’s startup and continuing costs for the year. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops and gain some financial security.
There is no formula to a CSA. Each is as unique as the community supporting it. The bottom line is that people make commitments to farms, and in return farmers make commitments to produce for their members the freshest, most flavorful, highest quality food possible. For a list of participating CSA farms in York County or anywhere in Maine, go to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association at www.mofga.org and click on resources
Ways to Conserve Water
There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.
Union Church Greenings is the inspiration of the Mission Committee and work of the Green Team of Union Church. If you have any questions or would like further information, contact Beth Baskin @ email@example.com. or Paul Schlaver @ firstname.lastname@example.org