The First Church Green Ministry Team’s mission is to promote environmental stewardship so that we may respect, enjoy, and preserve God’s gift of life on Earth. We meet on the first Sunday of the month at 9:10am on zoom – come join us!
Areas of Focus
- “Greening” the church’s practices, including encouraging use of compostable items
- Supporting congregation members in improving their personal practices
- Energy and sustainability
- Climate change, both global and local resilience
Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics
- First: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (in that order!)
- Use what you already have, rather than buying new “green” products
In the kitchen:
- Store food and leftovers in reusable containers
- Avoid plastic wrap : choose “bees wrap” or silicone lids
- Consider cloth napkins and dish cloths to avoid plastic packaging
- Use reusable rags for spills
- Choose loose tea or wax-wrapped tea bags over those with have plastic wrappers
- Skip plastic trash, recycling and compost bin liners
- Put gooey things in compost or reuse plastic bags from nuts etc.
- For compost pails, line with recycled paper and/or newspaper
- Make homemade snacks to avoid packaging
- Use eco-friendly sponges, scrubbers and brushes make from wood, coconut hulls, not from plastic
- Try a bar of dish soap instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles (cleans well)
In the bathroom:
- Bamboo toothbrush, Toothpaste in glass or recyclable metal (David’s), or toothpaste tablets
- Flannel or cloth reusable pads for cosmetics instead of cotton balls
- Shampoo and conditioner in solid bar form
- Bar soap instead of liquids in plastic
- Choose bars without plastic wrappers
- Or make personal care items to save on plastic bottles and packaging
- Refill old plastic bottles with shampoo, sunscreen, lotions, etc
- Use reusable cloth shopping bags, mesh produce bags, cloth bags for bulk grains etc
- Choose bulk/loose products (no packaging) and use your own bag
- Buy local produce
- BYO bags to the bakery
- Limit what you buy online that comes in plastic packaging
- Buy wet products in glass if possible (ex.: LeBenoit quart size yogurt
Dining and Takeout:
- Try bringing reusable cups & utensils to church AfterParty
- Ditch disposable coffee cups and lids. Use a reusable drink bottle
- Take reusable containers for take out and/or leftovers from restaurants
- Make sure restaurants know you prefer compostable takeout containers. They will follow wishes of customers, so saying “I love your food but won’t buy things in styrofoam” can make a difference.
- Ask for sandwiches wrapped in paper only
- Use plastic-free cleaning products: no plastic packaging, etc
- Use products in non-toxic paper/cardboard packaging
- Try detergent strips to avoid excess packaging. The environmental cost of transporting liquids is much higher than dry products
Sources and Resources we Love:
- The Berkeley Ecology Center on San Pablo
- Fillgood Refill Store on Solano Ave
- Re-Up Refill Shop in Oakland for refills & other items
- Berkeley Bowl for most reasonably priced net produce bags
- ETHOS Low-Waste Shop in Santa Cruz for cosmetics, bathroom supplies, refill
And to help keep plastics out of our waterways, local fauna, etc., carry a trash bag and pick up what you find. You’ll be surprised by how fulfilling this small care task can feel!
Reducing Food Waste
Did you know that according to USDA estimates, between 30-40% of our food is wasted? EPA estimates that in 2018, about 42.8 million tons– ended up in landfills, creating methane gas. According to World Resources Institute, if food waste was a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of GHGs behind China and USA
Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. EPA estimates that in 2018, about 68 percent of the wasted food we generated—or about 42.8 million tons– ended up in landfills or combustion facilities creating methane gas.
Producing uneaten food 1)wastes different resources: including seeds, water, fertilizers as well as energy and hours of labor, and food for marginalized people who cannot get enough.. 2) creates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when it ends up rotten in a dump. Cutting down on food waste at different stages of production and consumption could perhaps generate enough food to feed everyone.
(Some environmental organizations rank food waste as the number 3 action item out of 80 to stall climate change)
Some Ways to REDUCE food waste at home
1) Plan ahead – AVOID overbuying The average family of four spends $1,500 each year on food that ends up uneaten..
If you only buy what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all. Avoid buying food you already have. Consider whether you are going to eat out and if you will eat leftovers. Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home, if you will eat leftovers for any of your meals, and quantities to buy
2) Buying food from bulk bins can save you money and reduce food waste and packaging as you can purchase the amount of food you need as opposed to a pre-determined amount
3) Purchase imperfect produce or upcycled products. Imperfect produce may have physical imperfections but is just as safe and nutritious and can sometimes be found at discounted prices. Upcycled products are made from ingredients that might have otherwise gone to waste.
4) Be mindful of proper storage ( including which produce makes other produce next to it rot quicker,)
5) Know what different expirations dates really mean
And if you still have some wasted food, avoid sending it to the landfill by:
Donating nutritious, safe, and untouched food to food banks to help those in need.
Composting food scraps and spoiled food rather than throwing them away
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
1) Conserves energy and resources (land, water, energy), preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, producing, processing, preparing, storing and disposing of food. There’s also energy lost in transporting and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
2) Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon foot print.. When food decomposes in a landfill, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is emitted—and food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills.
3) Reduces other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. More than 85 percent of GHG emissions from landfilled food waste result from activities prior to food entering a landfill, including the production, transport, and distribution of food2.
4) Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.