Earth Day might be a ways behind us but going green in the church is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the earth. Plus, it could save your congregation a few dollars on your utilities. Here are some suggestions if you’re not sure where to start.
Create a Team
To engage the congregation in going green, someone is going to have to be proactive and make plans. Find a few people who are enthusiastic about being eco-friendly and let them get the ball rolling. Kids and teens are especially tuned into being environmentally friendly. This could be a neat way to teach them about church government and leadership while getting their fresh ideas.
Ask for Corporate Sponsorship
Unfortunately, some of the changes you’ll need to make will have an initial investment. Instead of asking the church to pay for bins and new lighting, ask if local businesses or utility companies will support your efforts. When the costs do come up, have a plan to explain how the investment will save money in the long run. Make a case for investing in the future.
Develop Policy Guidelines
Having policies for kitchen use and rental agreements keeps everyone on the same page. Include environmentally responsible procedures that aren’t onerous, but sensible. Tell the church what you’re doing by making announcements on bulletin boards, in newsletters and at potlucks. You want people to get on board with what you’re doing.
Green Measures To Put Into Action
Install smart switches and power strips that will shut down appliances that aren’t in use, or install occupancy light sensors to turn off lights when nobody’s in the room. Talk to your local utility company about new technologies that save money. You may even find rebates available for some installations.
Smart thermostats can be installed to monitor heat and AC use. Another bonus is that the thermostat can be set to kick on before the church is opened, which means the janitor or pastor don’t have to get to church early to turn on the system. You can also program it to shut off automatically. No more driving back to the church to check that it got turned off.
Go paperless. Have bills emailed to the church bookkeeper/secretary. Pay bills online when possible instead of using a check. Email the newsletter or post it online. Send out notices by email or text. Instead of printing a bulletin for each person, have a digital copy that can be downloaded by anyone who wants it. Place a recycling bin for paper outside the sanctuary for those who still want a paper bulletin.
Use natural cleaning products and pesticides. Diatomaceous earth is a food-grade bug killer that is safe enough to eat, but you really wouldn’t want to. It’s safer around kids and pets. Purchase cleaners that don’t put harmful chemicals into the groundwater or use vinegar and baking soda.
Invest in Energy Star Products
Energy efficient light bulbs are a little more expensive, but they often last much longer than incandescent bulbs and use less energy. As you upgrade appliances, look for eco-friendly products that save money over the long-term. Electric hand dryers cut down on waste and maintenance. Low-flow toilets use less water. Touchless water faucets can reduce water use and provide germ control. When you’re investing in Energy Star products, look for rebates that will save you money.
Have a Long-Term Plan
Dream big. Think about how your church could install solar panels and go completely off the grid. Maybe you can reduce your landscaping needs by installing rock gardens that require less maintenance. Create a plan that takes you 5, 10 and 20 years into the future. Keep looking for ways to be eco-friendly in your church.