Eco Committee Celebrates 9 Month Anniversary

Eco Committee Celebrates 9 Month Anniversary

What does living sustainably mean to you? Your neighbor? Our congregation? Philadelphia? The US? The world? For St. Peter’s EcoCommittee it means we strive to, through leadership, action and education, demonstrate care and reverence for God’s Creation. The EcoCommittee was established last October and since then has been hard at work developing a vision and a set of actionable steps for adopting practices that move the church toward Net Zero Energy, Zero Waste to the Landfill and Zero Carbon Emissions.

The committee has also been hard at work putting these steps into practice. Actions to date include:

  • Developing and implementing the zero waste coffee hours for both services. Results? Nearly all waste generated at the coffee’s is compostable – cups, napkins, stirrers and food. The little bit of landfill bound waste that remains, consists of wrappers from the offered snacks. The committee is working on alternatives that have reusable or compostable containers and on healthier snacks.
  • Working to develop and implement sustainable purchasing practices. You may have noticed that the toilet paper in the bathrooms is a different color than you are used to.  We are purchasing unbleached paper products now to reduce the burden on the water used during the manufacturing process. We are also making purchasing decisions based on: recycled content, ability to reuse or repurpose, and on what happens to the product at it’s end-of-life; specifically, can it be recycled or composted. For cleaning products, we have decided to only purchase Green Seal Certified products to ensure that they are non-toxic.
  • Reviewing operations practices to reduce waste and improve indoor air quality.  Steps include: reducing paper towel by using cloth towels where possible, electrostatic cloths for cleaning, and changing practices in the Altar Guild Room from twisted paper towels to high absorbency wick dryers for drying narrow neck items, developing a filter change routine for the HVAC units in the Parish House that includes a higher rated filter to remove more particulates from the air, changing the sink aerators in both the church and the Parish House to reduce water usage, and applying for and receiving a Philadelphia Water Department Charity Discount for the Parish House.
  • Developing and implementing a communications plan to help the Congregation bring sustainability home. This includes the weekly EcoTips that are printed in the Sunday Bulletin, the EcoCommittee blog, and an Earth Day presentation.  Coming soon, the committee will be at the HeadHouse GreenFair, will host a Raincheck rain barrel event with the Church Gardeners, will speak at SAGES, and will hopefully host a zero waste event with the City’s Zero Waste Cabinet.
  • Auditing the church’s utility usage including oil, gas and electricity and identified ways to reduce usage and costs and to commit to renewable energy. After consideration, The Energy Coop was selected to provide 99% wind, 1% solar electricity and at the dock pricing for oil. For now, natural gas will continue to be sourced from the city. PECO has awarded the church an incentive grant to replace some of the incandescent church lights with LED technology. To date a third of the lights have been changed with little to no change in light quality but with a 60 watt decrease per light.  With over 120 lights in the church that will hopefully make a dent on the budget. The lights, sink aerators and shower head in the Parish House apartment have also been changed to more sustainable fixtures to reduce demand.
  • Working to reduce single use plastic use at the church by asking Philabundance to not deliver it to the food cupboard and by using the large orange water dispenser in the church.  The committee is researching installing a filtered water dispenser in the church.
  • Improving the church’s recycling, composting and landfill waste practices to reduce ‘wishful’ recycling and to provide clean compostables.

You can take these actions home and strive to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability:

  • Take a look at the EcoCommittee’s blog [insert link] where you will find lots of backup information about each EcoTips.
  • Sign up to compost with Circle Compost [insert link to signup sheet] and the church will receive a donation.
  • Switch to the Energy Coop [insert link to signup sheet] for your home and/or business electricity and the church will receive a donation.
  • Tell the city you want to be Circular Free [insert link to signup sheet] to reduce waste.
  • Say NO to plastic bags and always use reusable shopping bags.
  • Improve your health and the heath of the planet by eating organic and maintaining your air conditioning equipment.
  • Practicing conscious consumption with the eye to reducing waste and when you do, recycle right.

Our every-day actions make a big difference. You can save the world.

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Lauri Cielo serves as the Director of Communications and Development at St. Peter's Church.

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