First Christian Church is a Green Chalice church. This means we recognize and work towards being better stewards of the natural resources God has given us. Out of our call to “do justice” (Micah 6:8), we strive to demonstrate the fullness of God’s shalom through living out our faith by caring for God’s creation. This was done with recognition of the ongoing nature of human-caused climate change (view the UN climate change report here) as well as with reference to a resolution concerning carbon neutrality that was passed at the 2017 General Assembly, in which the Christian Church (DOC) committed to reducing our carbon pollution with the goal to become carbon neutral by the year 2030 and climate positive by 2035. From Hawaii and Washington to Ontario and Florida, and everywhere in between, Disciples congregations are caring for creation in unique and inspiring ways.
What We’ve Done as a Church:
Working towards carbon neutrality is not a one-time decision, but many decisions done over a long period of time. A few of the ways we have worked towards this goal include changing our coffee cups to reusable mugs, recycling, planting a community garden, and continuing to retrofit our building to be more energy efficient as the opportunity arises. Of course, we always have room to grow into this goal!
Common Sense Things You Can Do:
There are four big ways you can become more environmentally friendly without going off the deep end. Before all else, remember that “going green” is important but it’s also become a marketing gimmick. In other words, not everything that markets itself as “green” holds equal footing. Be wary of getting sold a long list of consumer goods, and try out some of these more simple and cost-effective solutions first. Also, be wary of salesmen-consultants. That is, if you’re talking to a window guy, you’ll probably get told you need new windows. Same thing with an HVAC guy or any other salesman. We aren’t saying they’re wrong! We’re just saying there are simple solutions with a high return you should look into first. If in doubt, consider getting an independent energy audit.
- Consider how much car you need – Obviously, cars are a big cause of CO2 and other pollutants. So, when you go to trade up in cars, consider a smaller and more efficient vehicle. Some may even want to look into electric and hybrid vehicles. This is important because SUVs are the most popular type of car in the US right now even though most people drive alone most of the time. Making a wise choice when you go to trade out your car will help out every time you drive.
- Be a better steward of your home – While there are a lot of expensive products out there that promise green solutions, some of the most efficient solutions are also the simplest and cheapest. Remember that your home is likely going to be what uses the most energy compared to anything else you own, and remember that your heat / AC are likely the most costly single items.
- Add more insulation. This is probably going to be the biggest one-time difference you can make that will pay you (and the Earth) back from that point on. In Arkansas, code requires homes to have R-30 insulation in the attic. Beefing this up can be one of the best and most cost-effective solutions in your arsenal. It will make your home more efficient and more comfortable, saving money and reducing consumption.
- Air seal your home. Drafty houses will necessarily cost more to heat and cool. Two very quick and cheap ways to make a significant difference are to (1) mastic your ductwork and (2) air seal around the exterior walls of your home. That is, (1) get mastic from a home center (~$20) and paint a thick coating onto the seems of your ductwork. This will reduce the leakiness of your ducts so that you’re heating and cooling your house, not your attic or crawlspace. This is especially important when you remember that your ductwork is pressurized when operating. And (2) go around the inside of your house, looking for gaps and cracks on the exterior wall. Areas where plumbing goes into walls and the empty space around where air vents fit in are two examples of where you’ll likely find gaps. Seal these with a can of spray foam for big holes or caulk for small cracks (~$10). While these gaps and cracks seem small, they add up. Sealing them up is like closing an always-before-opened window on your house.
- Upgrade lights, water heaters, and other big users of energy. LED lights use considerably less energy than incandescents. Trade these out all at once or when old lights burn out. Likewise, when purchasing new appliances like a water heater, washer, or dryer; look for ones with an energy star rating. While it may not make sense to upgrade appliances that are working just fine at the time, keep efficiency in mind when going to do upgrades.
- Think through supply chains. When you buy something, is it coming from right here in Fort Smith or all the way from the other side of the planet? Think through how much energy will be used to get something to you. The more you can purchase things from local businesses, the better. One great example is purchasing more from the farmer’s market. Better yet is starting your own garden.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Simply, buy less stuff! And the stuff you do buy, plan on keeping it around for a while and then recycling it when you’re through. Choosing a reusable mug over styrofoam cups is just one example of a way to reduce consumption.