The Buddy (Eco)system: Help is closer than you think

Facing a challenge? Rather than going it alone, the buddy system is often the best way to achieve goals. Looking to lose a few pounds? Diet with a friend. Want to strengthen spiritual discipline? Join an accountability group. Encouragement, inspiration, and shared knowledge all come together to facilitate success when we join with others to reach common aspirations. When it comes to taking care of our environment, however, we need all the help we can get; thankfully, we have quick access to environmental buddies ready to team up with us as we work toward success.

Your Buddy (Eco)system

It’s really amazing just how much environmental assistance is available once you get serious about looking for it. Pretty much everything you need to start or enhance a green initiative program is accessible at no- or low-cost. What’s more, it’s not uncommon to find that environmental agencies and organizations often provide information and support created specifically for churches.

Below, you’ll find recommendations of online resources that provide not only the most exhaustive assistance, but that also feature the most practical and user-friendly materials that your congregation and church staff can start using now.

 

Interfaith Power and Light (IPL)

Mission: “To be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Since the year 2000, IPL has helped thousands of congregations address global warming by being better stewards of energy.”

Includes the following resources:

Study Guides:

  • One God, One Family, One Earth: Responding to the Gifts of God’s Creation
  • It’s God’s World: Christians, Care for Creation and Global Warming
  • Blessed Earth: Hope for Creation and Hope for Humanity

Programs:

  • Cool Congregations—a stewardship program designed to help congregations engage their members in caring for Creation by reducing their collective (and individual) greenhouse gas emissions
  • Cool Harvest—the “Enjoy a Cool Harvest” guide will help you plan and host a potluck gathering featuring food that are healthier for the planet and for our bodies.

Clergy Corner:

  • Prayers, poetry and other worship helps
  • Articles on faith and the environment
  • Sample sermons

 

EnergyStar

Mission: “A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program to identify and promote energy–efficient products and buildings in order to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security, and reduce pollution through voluntary labeling of or other forms of communication about products and buildings that meet the highest energy efficiency standards.”

Includes the following resouces:

EnergyStar for Congregations:

  • Action workbook for congregations
  • Energy Use in Worship Facilities report
  • Success stories from churches across the country
  • Sample messaging for speaking to congregation decision-makers
  • No-cost, low-cost energy savings tip sheet
  • Portfolio Manager data collection worksheet for worship facilities

 

GreenFaith

Mission: “to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.”

Includes the following resources:

GreenWorship:

  • Assistance finding financing for faith-based and nonprofits to “go solar” through Purchase Agreements, Lease-to-own, etc.
  • Webinar Series on Green Building for religious communities
  • Planning and decision-making advice
  • Start-up kit for churches
  • Two years’ worth of eco-tips

 

Buddy to Buddy

Whether you’re launching a churchwide initiative on global warming, or have one idea you’d like to implement, Interfaith Power and Light, EnergyStar for Congregations, and GreenFaith are particularly helpful for churches looking for support and advice. Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find—many of these could begin right away:

From Interfaith Power and Light:

  • Host an “Energy Party” which focuses on educating members and inspiring them to go  green at home.
  • Read up on the “Support Green Climate Fund” and consider urging Congress to approve this request.
  • Learn about how pesticides are used to grow the majority of Easter Lily bulbs and talk to your congregation about only purchasing organic lilies for Easter services.

From EnergyStar:

  • Seal and insulate your home and office to improve comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Go to EnergyStar’s My Environment page to find environmental information based on your church’s zip code.
  • Turn off monitors, printers, and copiers at night.

From GreenFaith:

  • Support your farmers close to home and reduce your carbon footprint by visiting farmers’ markets
  • Turn your engine off when you are sitting for more than ten seconds, especially near children and in urban areas where pollution levels are already high.
  • Kick the bottled water habit by installing a water filter on your faucet and purchasing a reusable water bottle.

 

Judy Bumgarner is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. She also works at Brentwood United Methodist Church in the church’s Caring Ministry.