McKinney church members become more Earth conscious through volunteer Green Living Program
June 12, 2014 –A group of parishioners at Trinity Presbyterian Church-McKinney recently engaged in practical actions to lessen their impact on their environment and help preserve the Earth that God created through a Green Living Program fostered by local volunteers.
The program was facilitated by Naturally McKinney members and Trinity’s Creation Care Team Leader and Naturally McKinney member Laurie Jay and 10 families of parishioners, eight of which consistently participated in the program. Naturally McKinney is an informal, volunteer group of McKinney citizens that promote living sustainably within our community. It is non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian grassroots organization.
“The intent of the Green Living Program is to intensify the awareness of the participating families regarding the need to be good stewards of the Earth and to live sustainably in their daily lives. This calls for a change of mind, heart and will that leads to new understandings and new lifestyles,” said Randy Williams, Naturally McKinney volunteer who helped facilitate Trinity Presbyterian’s Green Living Program.
During the winter and spring of 2013-2014, ten families participated in a structured program to implement green, sustainable living in their homes by using the model set forth in the Green Living Handbook by David Gershon. Trinity was chosen as the first church to hold the Green Living Program because it’s certified by the Presbyterian Church USA as an Earth Care Congregation. An Earth Care Congregation actively integrates environmental thinking and practices into the areas of worship, education, facilities and outreach. Trinity is one of only three congregations certified in the State of Texas.
Over the course of four months the families took steps to reduce solid waste and to improve water and energy efficiency in their homes, increase transportation efficiency, and to become more aware of their consumer habits and lifestyles. The action items suggested to the families to reduce solid waste included recycling; reusing bags and containers; using both sides of paper; reducing junk mail; composting; using cloth instead of paper products; repairing items instead of discarding them; donating or selling used goods; using reusable party products; cleaning up after pets; mulching grass, and planting trees.
Those suggestions paid off. Several families reported the following results over the course of the four-month program in regards to solid waste reduction:
· Increased recycling by up to 100 percent, with a corresponding decrease in garbage
· Increased use of reusable bags by up to 8 percent
· Decreased junk mail by 75 percent
· Decreased use of paper towels by up to 80 percent
In addition, four families began composting at their homes, which is legal for Texas homeowners to do per Texas Property Code, Sec. 202.007, which forbids home owners’ associations from prohibiting members from composting vegetation.
Families see increase in water conservation
In regards to conserving water, the families were asked to find and repair water leaks in the home; reduced water used for toilet flushing and the number of toilet flushes; install water-saving devices; reduced use of shower and bath water, and water used in personal care and washing dishes; drink refrigerated water instead of from the tap; minimize salt used in water softeners; check water for purity; use Earth-friendly car washing practices and products; reduce the amount of water going into the sewer system, such as runoff water and water used for lawn irrigation; reduce the use of weed killers and fertilizers, and water used for gardening; create a sustainable streamside ecosystem; and getting acquainted with the local watershed.
By adopting these measures, water use for bathing, washing dishes and flushing toilets was reduced in some households by as much as 40 percent to 80 percent. Some replaced shrubs with draught-tolerant varieties, replaced faucet washers and toilet flappers to stop leaks. Some installed a drip system for garden irrigation and collected rain water in barrels for plant watering. The families were asked to stop using the garbage disposal by guest speaker, Annita McCormick, City of McKinney’s Storm Water Specialist. The city is urging all residents to skip the garbage disposal and put all grease and food scraps into the trash to prevent waste blockage and overflow in the city’s system, Jay said.
Improved energy efficiency
The families also took steps to improve efficiency in their homes turning off appliances all the day; unplugging items when they are not in use; turning off power strips; installing energy efficient lighting, such as motion sensor lighting; washing clothes with cold water; turning down the water heater when they were away; and using the refrigerator more efficiently; turning up the thermostat; insulating windows and doors; adding weather stripping and caulking; cooling the house more efficiently by using fans to cool the home and preventing air pollution.
Improving transportation efficiency and saving on gas!
To help curb the environmental impact through transportation, the families reviewed options to walk, ride bicycles, use public transportation, carpool, combine trips, work alternative work schedules or hold meetings via telecommuting tools, develop, fuel-efficient driving habits, identify and plug oil leaks on vehicles; properly maintain their vehicles; research a fuel-efficient vehicle; and adopt fuel-efficient vacation planning; and walking in nature.
The families reported:
· Reducing idling time in drive-thru lanes by up to 50 percent by turning the engine off or parking and going in
· Recycling rechargeable batteries
· Biking to school, grocery store and library, etc.
· Carpooling children to outings and adults to work
· Shopping bulk items to reduce trips to the grocer
· Several families are researching fuel-efficient cars for their next purchase
· Children walk to school 95 percent of time
· Combining trips up to 50 percent of the time
Families save money by adopting more natural cleaning methods
The families were encouraged to become more aware of their consumer and cleaning habits by doing the following: buying Earth-friendly products; reducing household toxic products and air pollution coming from home products; buying non-toxic furnishings and building materials; buying recycled paper products, organic produce, and local produce and dairy to lessen carbon dioxide emissions from their vehicles during travel; increasing meatless meals due to the water and energy production used to produce edible meat; and exchanging items instead of discarding them, or sharing items with neighbors.
The families began using vinegar, baking soda and mild remedies for household cleaning, which not only saved them money, but saved products from going into the local landfill or recycling bins. These products also prevent toxins from entering the water system. They also purchased paper products made from recyclable materials, shopped for organic produce and at local farmers markets, swapped toys, books and clothing with the playgroup; reduced meat consumption by up to 30 percent; increased their local purchases of from 60 percent to 80 percent; grew herbs and vegetables; and bought products with recyclable with biodegradable packaging.
For information on the Green Living program or other activities to promote sustainable living in McKinney, contact Randy Williams at 214-478-9391 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Naturally McKinney's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NaturallyMcKinney .
For more information on how to reduce your solid waste at home, or at your business, or to obtain recycling for your business, visit www.progressivewaste.com . For more information on conserving water, please visit the North Texas Municipal Water District’s Web site www.ntmwd.org . For more information on how to make your home more environmentally friendly, visit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Web site www.tceq.state.tx.us. To learn how to save money on your energy bill and conserve energy, visit www.powertosavetexas.org.