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Interfaith Congregations and the Environment

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Faith Congregations Pursue Conservation and Sustainability

By Santra Trutt

Natural resources are being exploited to an extent unsustainable by the Earth. We must do all we can to reduce the harm being done to the planet and living things.

Conservation is an important way to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions in faith facilities and communities.

Faith Congregations are urged to discuss these ideas and others and to make these voluntary changes as soon practicable. We also hope that congregants will do the same in their homes.

Examples of things we can do at church and at home to reduce our carbon emissions and the output of other green house gases follow.

Environmental Practices for OFFICES

  1. Recycle all alum. cans, bottles, cardboard, office paper, etc. Put recycle bins throughout facility.
  2. Use 100% recycled paper in the office and print or use both sides.
  3. Reuse paper with only one-side printed for the fax machine and scratch paper.
  4. Reuse envelopes, file folders and computer disks, etc.
  5. Encourage use of electronic version of newsletter.
  6. Set printer to always print on both sides of paper.
  7. Offer cell phone and cartridge recycling bins for members.
  8. Set copy machine to go into sleep mode after 5 min. of inactivity.
  9. Online registration or R.S.V.P.s for events should be used whenever possible to reduce paper use.
  10. Avoid using glossy paper and pictures whenever possible.


  1. Switch to a janitorial supply vendor who stocks recycled paper products and green seal certified cleaning chemicals.
  2. When purchasing new equipment i.e., TV, computers, photocopier, refrigerator, etc., look for Energy Star rating for energy efficient models.
  3. Purchase unbleached recycled paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, copy paper, colored paper, newsletter paper.
  4. Request gardener to use only organic, non-toxic fertilizers and pesticides.
  5. Avoid the use of aerosol sprays in cleaners and restroom deodorizers.
  6. Replace toxic cleaning chemicals with less toxic alternatives.

Get rid of: Antibacterial hand soap; 409 or Fantastic type cleaners; Bleach.

Use instead: Vegetable based, non-antibacterial biodegradable hand soap; Seventh Generation or Green Seal Certified all purpose cleaners; Non-chlorine bleach (Oxi-Clean one brand name.)

Guidelines for Faith-Campus EVENTS

  1. Recycle containers, used, etc. Set out collection boxes/receptacles. Post signs and samples of materials to go into each bin.
  2. Buy products/food in bulk not in individual servings/ small amts.
  3. Use non-disposable dishes, silver, cups, etc. Ask participants to bring their own.
  4. Use non-toxic chemicals for clean up, washing.
  5. Use farmer's markets and locally grown produce.
  6. Promote vegetarian menu items.
  7. Pass on these guidelines to renters of your facility for their events.
  8. Think about every item of trash that might be generated by your event. How can every item of trash, recycling or compost be reduced? For example, eliminate paper towels by using cloth towels.
  9. Use cloth tablecloths for table coverings instead of paper or plastic.
  10. Consider making your event, smoke-free.


  1. Change out ALL incandescent light bulbs for CFLs.
  2. Put out a collection box for used CFL's and batteries from members, so they can be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste site.
  3. Install timers on lights, in bathrooms and infrequently used rooms.
  4. Replace 10 yr. old appliances and office equipment with Energy Star products.
  5. Promote carpooling and bus riding to all congregation events. Include how to get to your site by bus on your website.
  6. Get information on how to do an energy audit form your local Utility Co.
  7. Check air-conditioner and Heating filters and replace if needed.
  8. Be sure doors and windows are sealed to prevent leaks of indoor air.
  9. Use ceiling fans to circulate air instead of using A/C.
Thank you for your help and understanding that we must do these things in order to save the Earth.

Information from:
Sustainable Works in Santa Monica

California Interfaith Power and Light

Circle of Life's Guide for Greening Events

Sandra Trutt
Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica
(818) 360-1020

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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