Faith in Action
People of all faith traditions recognize the serious problems that the Earth and all its inhabitants will face if we continue to consume resources at our current rate. In response, many faiths have begun to emphasize a creation-oriented approach to the care and stewardship of our planet, rooted in the understanding that humanity and all of creation make up an interdependent community.
This section of our web site is designed to promote the importance of responsible stewardship and provide suggestions which faith communities can implement to lessen their impact upon the natural world. Many of these suggestions have the added benefit of saving both money and natural resources. The information presented here is organized into three sections:
- An Activity Guide including ideas for promoting environmental awareness and action within your congregation;
- Our Simple Steps for Faith in Action brochure which provides concrete, moneysaving steps that your congregation can take to help preserve the earth and its resources
- A Resource Listing of denominational and non-denominational resources currently available.
Other web sites with more suggestions and resources are listed on our Religion & Faith Relating to the Environment links page.
Activities for Your Congregation
The following are suggested activities to help your congregation become more environmentally aware and involved.
Establish an Environmental Awareness Group - Distribute a survey in your bulletin or newsletter to identify those congregants interested in creation awareness and stewardship. This group might serve as the focal point for future environmentally-related activities within your congregation.
Dedicate Specific Days of Worship for the Environment - Plan services, practices, music and/or classes dedicated to environmental stewardship. Refer to the section on Resources for contact information.
Form Prayer and Meditation Groups - Prayer and meditation are the principal means of interaction with the divine. Through prayer and meditation, we may rediscover the sanctity of nature.
Communicate the Virtues of Living Simply - Living Simply is not necessarily living frugally. To Live Simply is to be content with what we have and to reject materialism and consumerism as means to happiness. Living Simply saves money, conserves natural resources, and emphasizes meaningful values. Refer to the section on Resources for web sites with more information.
Educate the Children of Your Faith Group - Great activities to engage children in caring for the earth include: planting and caring for trees or gardens on your congregational grounds; recycling drives; field trips to parks, conservation areas, gardens, or the zoo; and poster contests. Refer to the section on NondenominationalResources for ideas for religious school curriculum or youth group programs.
Hold a “Creation Carnival” - Many faiths have a special day to honor human interdependence with the rest of creation. Consider adding events around the themes of biodiversity and endangered species. Refer to the section on Non-Denominational Resources for ideas.
Hold a Rummage Sale - Promote reuse and recycling of clothing, books, toys, and other household goods by holding a rummage sale or “Pass-It-On” event.
Become Politically Informed and Active - Encourage congregants to write letters to the elected officials of your faith group and to government representatives at the federal, state, and local levels expressing your congregation’s concerns about responsible stewardship of the environment. To encourage your members, ask the pulpit staff to include reminders about current environmental issues in their announcements, plan letter-writing parties, and set up informational tables at social events. Refer to the section on Non-Denominational Resources for information on contacting your elected officials.
Activities for Your Congregation Revised July 2003
Simple Steps for Faith in Action
These "Simple Steps" for faith-based communities not only help us care for the earth but also, in many cases, may lower expenditures. In generating this list, we have incorporated a wide variety of suggestions, knowing that what makes sense for one individual or group, may not be practical for another. We hope you will consider adding the steps that seem right for you to the daily routine of your congregation.
Your Faith Organization's Policy
Make changes in your mission statement and organizational policy to include environmental impacts.
Create a planning committee to make environmental improvements.
Increase recycling efforts at your congregation by recycling materials that are currently discarded or by increasing the amount of currently recycled materials.
When planning construction and remodeling, choose building design, materials, and furnishings that are environmentally preferable (energy and water conserving, with recycled content, etc.)
Review purchasing policies to eliminate any barriers to buying products with recycled content.
Publicize new environmental goals and policies within your group and encourage member participation.
Once your environmental program is in place, nominate your congregation for an Environmental Excellence Award. These awards are presented annually by Choose Environmental Excellence - Gateway Region to individuals, schools, businesses, and organizations throughout the metropolitan area that have taken exemplary steps toward becoming more environmentally responsible.
In the Office
Implement a paper recycling program and encourage participation. Paper, envelopes, file folders, books, magazines, and cardboard can all be recycled. In most cases, the costs incurred will be offset by the decreased volume in your trash dumpster. Contact us for assistance in identifying a recycler.
Encourage the use of e-mail communication, when practical, to minimize printed copies of memos, etc.
Receive faxes directly by computer and print only the necessary pages.
Make double-sided copies whenever possible.
Reuse office supplies, such as file folders and manila envelopes, whenever possible.
Use scrap paper for informal notes and phone messages.
Use shredded newspaper as packing material.
Use carbonless paper, which is easier to recycle, for invoices and other forms.
Keep your organization's mailing list current and eliminate duplicate mailings.
Consider adding "Address Correction Requested" to return addresses.
Consider adding "or Current Resident" to mailing addresses for mass mailings of a general nature.
Recycle inkjet and toner cartridges to reduce waste and provide your group with a cash rebate. Contact us for assistance in identifying a recycler.
Contact the US Environmental Protection Agency and ask about becoming an "Energy Star Congregation."
Install reusable furnace and air conditioner filters and clean them monthly.
Establish a regular maintenance routine to prolong the life of equipment.
Install airlock entrances.
Institute energy management programs at all facilities.
Conduct an energy audit and prioritize recommendations.
Purchase copiers and other equipment that feature an energy-saving mode.
Put thermostats on timers to minimize air conditioning and heating during hours when the building is not occupied.
Install energy-saving software on computers.
Turn off lights in areas that are not is use.
Install motion sensors to turn off lights in rooms that are not used frequently.
Use energy-efficient fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs.
Retrofit exit signs with fluorescent lights or replace with light-emitting diode technology.
Service gas boilers and water heaters twice a year.
Install heat recovery equipment on large air conditioning units to preheat water.
Buy Recycled - Buy Smart
Buy paper products with as high a post-consumer recycled content as possible.
Order supplies in bulk to reduce packaging waste and save money.
Purchase remanufactured business furniture. Donate used furniture to charities or sell to used-equipment dealers, instead of discarding.
Reuse foam peanuts, bubble wrap, and other packing material.
Return or reuse wooden pallets.
Substitute recycled cardboard or recycled plastic pallets for wood.
Investigate local resources for reusable building supplies and industrial fixtures.
Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposables.
Use worn-out tires for landscaping or swings.
In the Kitchen
Use glass, china, or dishwasher-safe plastic instead of disposable plates and cups.
Use metal flatware instead of disposable plastic.
Use linen or reusable plastic tablecloths instead of paper placemats.
Serve sugar and creamer from containers instead of individual serving packets.
Use pump dispensers or larger size containers for condiments instead of individual serving packets.
Limit the use of straws and use bulk straw dispensers instead of individually wrapped straws.
Serve milk from self-service machines instead of individual cartons.
Use soda fountains instead of individual containers.
Purchase reusable coffee filters.
Donate surplus or past-pull-date food items to food banks or shelters, if still edible.
Compost fruit and vegetable food waste.
Reuse ice for plant and landscape watering.
Replace folded paper towels with roll dispensers (which usually cost less and reduce the volume of paper needed) or air dryers.
Buy unbleached kitchen paper products with recycled content. Unbleached products reduce the amount of dioxin released into the environment.
Use cloth hats and aprons instead of disposable paper.
Use newspapers to drain cooking grease instead of paper towels.
Use a chalkboard or dry-erase board to post menu changes or daily specials.
Select a commercial conveyor-type dishwasher with an electric eye, so that water flows only when dishes are in the conveyor.
Install manual pre-wash dishwashers to reduce total water usage.
Install open-door buzzers for walk-in refrigerators.
Disconnect lights or remove bulbs in dessert and salad refrigerators. These lights create heat and are usually unnecessary.
Install timers on hood fans, exhaust systems, and hood lights.
Use convection ovens instead of conventional ovens.
Install grease traps in all waste traps.
Clean grills and grease filters daily for greater heat transfer.
Service all gas cooking equipment at least twice a year to maximize operating efficiency.
Ensure that all refrigeration units are sealed properly in order to contain environmentally harmful coolants.
In the Restroom
Replace folded paper towels with roll dispensers or air dryers.
Buy unbleached restroom paper products.
Consider purchasing faucets with motion sensors and automatic shutoff.
Cleaning Supplies and Other Chemicals
Purchase these items only in amounts needed. Properly dispose of unused quantities of solvents and other chemicals classified as hazardous waste. Contact us for assistance in disposing of these items.
Replace chemical or chlorinated cleansers with citrus and water-based products.
Use vinegar mixed with water as an everyday glass cleaner.
Use water-based (latex) paints whenever possible.
Use solar timers for parking lot and walkway lighting.
Install motion sensors to turn lights on/off where appropriate.
Select landscaping plants that require minimal maintenance and attract bees and butterflies.
Place sprinkler systems on a timer and monitor for leaks.
Water lawns in the morning to avoid evaporation in the afternoon and disease from evening dampness.
Request that your lawn service adjust the cutting height of their lawnmowers so that the grass is not cut too short.
Request that your lawn service leave grass clippings on the lawn to decrease the amount of watering needed.
Direct rainwater from downspouts onto plants.
Support for the production of this information provided by the Boeing Employee Community Fund, St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, and Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources.