Telling someone to give up that burger in their hand seems to be the most ineffective way to start a dialogue about solving environmental crisis, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the way we produce food is intricately connected with our damaging relationship with the earth. Below is a collection of perspectives that may help you launch a faithful discussion with those who are open to learning more about how what they eat impacts the rest of the planet.
Thanks to our friends from New Hope Lutheran Church in Columbia, MD via Charlie Bailey. If you have updates or want to add suggestions contact us!
Reusable mesh produce bags. With some grant funding from the Synod’s Creation Care Ministry we are purchasing reusable mesh produce bags and are planning to give one to any congregational family that wants one. We are going to include a fact sheet in each bag with information about single use plastic. For instance, did you know that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. See other facts here: https://bit.ly/3btedjj We intend to either give them out when we get back to in person services or by placing them in a bin in front of the church for people to come by and pick up at their convenience.
Communion cups. We have found a source for biodegradable/compostable communion cups (link below). We have not purchased any yet given we have a fairly large supply of existing plastic ones and we plan to use those up versus throwing them out. But next time we make a purchase we intend to check these out.
Direct Marketers Association do not mail list. Must be renewed every 10 years. Allows separate opt out for Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers (this includes subscription offers, newsletters, periodicals and other promotional mailings), and Other Mail Offers (this includes donation requests, bank offers, retail promotions and more). To permanently opt out of the credit card offers, you have to fill out a form and send via US mail, which is what I did. If you have registered before, you can login and see how much longer you have on the list before you have to re-register. When I signed in recently, close to my renewal date, it automatically renewed my opt-out for an additional 10 years, until 2030. You can include as many names for a given address as you want (e.g. You, Lois, Carol Buck, etc.)
First Lutheran in Decorah signed the Paris Pledge, joining other congregations across the nation to reduce our carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. They have already achieved the 50% reduction goal (read their story here) and they are determined to be carbon neutral by 2050.
In December of 2015, leaders from across the world will meet in Paris to negotiate the next international climate treaty. The Paris Pledge is an opportunity for people of faith to encourage world leaders to commit to deep cuts in their nation’s carbon emissions. We must practice what we preach! So we are encouraging all to sign the Paris Pledge and commit to reducing carbon at home and in our congregations.
We know it’s possible, because so many congregations have already reached the 2030 Paris Pledge carbon reduction goals, and some are even completely carbon neutral. Visit the coolcongregations.org website to learn how they did it.
Take the Paris Pledge, as an individual or as a congregation, and commit to reducing your carbon pollution. Together, we can make a real difference. Interfaith Power & Light will provide you with helpful resources and tools so you can reach your goals.
The general call to to action is simply: “Stay Home”. However, many can’t heed that call, even if they wanted to. When we are asked to care for our neighbors by stepping back, what are other ways we can lean in to understanding each other and practice moving forward in action?
The following is a selection of conversations, reflections, and emerging information. Consider what realities we have learned about our neighbors’ insecurity, the adaptability of humans under stress, the impact of policy decisions on our daily lives… and what does our faith give us as tools to fight any crisis?
The Board of Directors of Lutherans Restoring Creation has unanimously endorsed the resolution (see here) adopted by Upper Iowa River Conference of the Northeastern Iowa ELCA Synod to support Advocacy for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
Prepared by Pilgrims Caring for Creation Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN in response to a request from Mary Beth Nowak, ELCA Churchwide Assembly Coordinator, January 22, 2009.*
Adapted for events in observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by David Rhoads, Founder Lutherans Restoring Creation.
*please note some resources may need updating – if you find anything we should alter please let us know!
Publicity about sustainability efforts; through planning, implementation, and beyond:
• Use your website, event program, press releases, opening, signage and post-event publications to tell the story of the green event.
• Put together a brochure with actions taken by your organization to make the event green. Print a limited number for attendees and the public and make it available electronically. Include green actions that individuals can adopt at the event, in their congregations, and beyond. For example:
• Adjust the thermostat in the hotel rooms (and at home) when not there so the heat or air conditioning is not running unnecessarily. Take advantage of hotel policies for less frequent washing of linens.
• List other relevant information related to getting around in the location of the event.
• Set up an onsite sustainability booth to provide information about the event’s greening initiatives. Items at this table could include: transit passes; transit information/maps; bike rental/bike trail information; tips included in the above brochure.
• Invite the local and national Lutheran creation care organizations to have booths and provide consultation to congregations regarding their greening goals.
Procurement of services and products
• Purchasing staff can keep in mind the environmental, social, and economic impacts of purchased goods or services—throughout its lifecycle. Favor goods and services that result in minimal environmental impacts and create good social and economic development. Use environmental criteria as well as quality and price.
• For example, if speaker platforms are created by staff, the wood could be sustainably grown and harvested. If rugs or fabrics are used to soften the areas, they could have minimal adhesives and be reusable or recyclable.
• Develop contract riders to hold suppliers accountable to sustainability commitments.
• For example, ask subcontractors and vendors to consider the lifecycle of the products they use and create.
• There is a precedent for event sponsors to calculate the energy used by the whole event—services, transportation, venues and so forth—and then purchase carbon offsets to cover their energy use. They can choose to ask participants to help bear the costs. There are several calculators to use for this. Consider http://www.nativeenergy.com, but browsing “carbon calculator” on the internet yields comparisons among several. For carbon offset groups, try http://www.co2offsetresearch.org/consumer/OffsetRatings.html .
Communications to participants prior to the event
• Provide opportunities for sending conference information electronically.
• Reduce the use of paper and the need to mail that paper by providing as much pre-event information electronically.
• Allow for and encourage electronic registration.
• Whenever paper is used: Decrease the margins around printing to one-half inch, copy on both sides of the paper, use 100% post-consumer recycled paper, print using soy/vegetable ink, avoid bright colored paper.
Travel to the Event
• Ask attendees to think about others living in nearby communities who will also attend the event and encourage them to consider renting a van or bus and traveling to the event together.
• Encourage each attendee/vendor/presenter/staff person flying or driving to the site of the event to consider purchasing carbon offsets to help mitigate the environmental impact of their travel.
• Encourage people to bring their own water containers or mugs that they will rinse themselves. No Styrofoam or plastic bottles, please.
• Encourage delegates and others coming to the event to consider bringing their families and making the location of the event a vacation destination rather than taking a second trip and thereby emitting additional greenhouse gas emissions. Come early or stay later.
• Consider providing videoconferencing options to individuals who do not need to be physically present at the event.
Lodging for Attendees
• Inquire about the environmental practices of hotels, including their waste and resource management.
• Are bulk dispensers for shampoos and soaps used in hotel rooms?
• Are low-flow water-conserving fixtures used in sinks, toilets, and showers?
• Are paperless check-in and check-out available?
• Are post-consumer recycled paper products used?
• Negotiate room blocks with hotels that are within walking distance, are on the transit line, and/or have green policies.
• Ask guests to participate in linen re-use programs at their hotels. Ask them to shut off lights, TVs, and heat/ A/C when they leave their rooms.
• Ask that the hotel staff to put the thermostat up/down when the room is empty. This is already the standard practice in some hotels.
Transportation around the Event Site
• Discourage the use of single rider rental cars, and encourage carpooling.
• Encourage the use of local transit.
• Inform attendees that bike rental is an option for local transportation.
• Inform attendees that idling is prohibited in many areas, unless the car is in traffic. Avoid idling for more than three minutes.
Event Site Amenities
• Inquire about the environmental practices of the site where the event is being held, including their waste and resource management: Do they employ energy- and water-efficient equipment and practices? Do they minimize the use of harmful chemicals when cleaning? Is recycling available in all common areas Are recycling receptacles readily available and clearly marked? Is staff trained to ensure that recycling and garbage are not co-mingled? Are food-rescue, food-to-animals, or food composting practices followed? Ask if they could schedule heat/ A/C resources around meeting requirements. Can the temperature be changed a little, keeping the halls comfortable but conserving energy?
• Encourage the event site to purchase wind energy during the period of the event. If not, consider purchasing carbon offsets for the event itself.
• Do not distribute plastic water bottles. Instead each table should have a pitcher of water and glasses.
• If you choose to use disposable products such as cups, and cutlery, consider purchasing compostable products made from cornstarch or similar materials. If this option is chosen, then provide for composting services and education to attendees to ensure success.
• Be sure not to put compostable waste inside large non-compostable plastic bags for disposal.
• Encourage attendees to bring their laptop computers and then provide wireless internet service to them. Make all printed materials available electronically so participants can choose to read the materials from their laptops rather than receiving handouts. Individuals may also choose to take notes on their computers rather than on paper.
• Compost food waste.
• Request that food providers use organic, locally produced food and beverages (contract with the site to use local food as much as possible). If it is not possible for all meals to be from local sources, have one or two meals designated as locally grown and publicize them that way.
• Provide only Fair Trade organic coffee and tea throughout the event.
• Direct event staff NOT to pre-fill water glasses at meals. Allow guests to fill their own glasses with pitchers at the tables.
• Do not use disposable water bottles. Provide for glasses and pitchers of water.
• Eliminate disposable items, including containers, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, napkins, and tablecloths. Earth-Centric has cups that are compostable: http://www.Earth-Centric.com
• Arrange to donate leftover food to local charities. Local charity organizations may be able to assist with this effort. Individuals or groups can volunteer to assist.
• Ensure that any seafood served is harvested responsibly.
• Provide vegetarian and vegan meals or options.
• Choose reusable centerpieces and decorations.
• Make on-line registration an option and encourage attendees to use it.
• Encourage attendees to bring their own name-tags if they have them. Encourage them to be reusable.
• Provide lanyards that are made from recycled materials. Ask participants to return them after the event to be used again later, and provide an incentive for them to do so. For example, if there is a drawing at the end of the event, let people know that their name will be entered only upon the return of the lanyard.
• Give everyone a reusable event bag. The bag can be made of organically grown cotton or canvas, or recycled plastic. Put a logo on it that people will be happy to reuse. This reduces waste and is good advertising.
• Consider the environment when determining giveaways. Provide giveaways that are useful and sustainable, like a bicycle (LED) flasher, keychain with light on end, 3” x 3” recycled leather paper pad.
• Encourage vendors and exhibitors to consider the environment when making choices about giveaways, banners, displays, paper, post-conference waste, etc.
• Encourage them to provide giveaways that are made from recycled materials, or will biodegrade, or are reusable, or are consumable (e.g. note pads made from recycled paper, coffee mugs, Fair Trade chocolate).
• Request/require exhibitors to use recycled and recyclable paper.
• Invite people/companies to exhibit who can sell potentially green things to congregations (eco-friendly Good Friday palms branches, organic communion wine, etc.).
• Encourage exhibitors to reduce waste (and cost) by reusing or recycling displays and other materials, rather than disposing of them after the event.
• Request that exhibitors use sustainable design and construction of their exhibit booths, if possible.
• Attempt to hire “green” display/decoration/production companies for décor (banners, cutouts, platform decorations, posters). Can you reduce? Do you really need everything you think you need? Using less is good for the environment and good for the budget. What are displays and decorations made of? Do they emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)? Can they be reused?
• Use organic communion wine and locally produced communion bread made from organic ingredients, at large group meetings. Practice intinction to avoid plastic communion cups or washing glass ones.
• Encourage presenters to provide their presentations in advance on discs or on the Assembly web site. Remind attendees that materials will be available on a designated website after the event.
As many faith-based organizations are struggling with their place in relation to people’s daily lives, so does the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America look for ways the world can use what we offer. As part of an appeal for our churches to take on the uncomfortable challenge of being engaged in the public sphere, let’s take stock of how other sectors of our society ask the church for help. If you have articles or stories to share please submit them to info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org.
Comments from BBC’s NewsHour Jan 22, 2019 Davos, Switzerland as Global Business leaders meet at World Economic Forum:
Listen in to this conversation from global leaders and their call to us all to act as leaders.
What does a “moral and empathic revolution” look like?
When are you tempted to make villains out of your neighbors?
How can prayer offer a way out of habits that take us further away from our goals?
Muhlenberg College, Luther College, Wartburg College, Wittenberg College, and Pacific Lutheran University were all recently included in the Sierra Club’s 2017 List of “Cool Schools”. The national assessment pulls data from STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Information submitted to AASHE was used and scored across 61 questions from the STARS assessment, in addition to a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments. The Sierra Club used STARS reports to compile the list. To view the complete list of schools click here.
Gettysburg College has been pursuing sustainable decision making for over three decades. As the world’s environmental issues grow more and more severe, the college has increased its commitment to sustainability. In practice, this commitment entails working to enhance and protect the environment through teaching, research, service, operations, decision-making, and other aspects of life on campus. Gettysburg College, as a sustainable campus, is addressing all three pillars of sustainability. Environmentally, the College works to reduce and eliminate its ecological footprint; economically, it makes purchases and investments within budgetary constraints; and socially, the college is increasing awareness about educational, emotional, and physical needs. To learn more about Gettysburg’s sustainability program and efforts click here.
A story in the Star Tribune newspaper highlights how St. Olaf College’s 350 acres of natural lands not only serve as a hands-on learning laboratory for students, but also play an important role in conservation efforts for native species like the bluebird. “The 143-year-old Lutheran college is part of a greater survival story to rebuild Eastern bluebird populations that had declined in the 1960s and ’70s due to loss of savanna – their preferred habitat – and competition from nonnative birds,” notes Star Tribune writer Shannon Prather. Since 1989 the college has conducted extensive natural habitat restoration projects on hundreds of acres of land it owns adjacent to the campus. This includes a bluebird trail comprised of 64 specially designed birdhouses through woodlands and prairies. For more information on St. Olaf’s natural lands, click here.
Through Green Thread, Capital University’s environmental sustainability platform, innovative and efficient solutions are brought to life. Green Thread helps employees and customers minimize environmental impacts in their operations and in their communities. Green Thread places special emphasis on responsible sourcing, waste minimization, efficient operations, and transportation management. Green Thread also measures the university’s impact, holds them accountable, and enables continuous improvement.
In 2017, Augsburg University launched initiatives to build capacity for integrating environmental sustainability across all curricular, co-curricular, and operational aspects of campus life. The initiatives are made possible by a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. The Minnesota-based foundation believes that college and university campuses can serve as models of operational sustainability for the society at large, testing practical solutions that others can adopt.
Augsburg University President, Paul C. Pribbenow, believes that efforts to achieve sustainability must give consideration to the environment, the economy, and issues of equity. “As a college of the Lutheran Church, we’re called to prepare our students to address and overcome global challenges such as climate change, hunger and food insecurity, and limited access to clean water,” said Pribbenow. “As a liberal arts institution embedded in a diverse, urban environment, we’re accustomed to collaboration across disciplines and beyond the classroom. These important initiatives will better position us to meet these challenges head on.” For more information on this initiative, click here.
Back in the summer of 2018 hundreds of youth and group leaders visited our Lutherans Restoring Creation space in the Interactive Educational Area during the National Youth Gathering in Houston.
Every visitor was asked to spend about 5 minutes walking through a “tour” of their typical day and consider how their daily decisions impacted their global neighbors.
We don’t have to let it end there though! Get your youth group (or adult forum, or bible study, or family…) to read through the tour with pledge form in hand (or on screen) and find solutions in a prayerful way of living. If you use our online form we can stay on touch with you and let your synod leadership know what you’re aiming for.
2016 Churchwide Assembly Passes Memorial To Move Towards A Responsible Energy Future
During the months leading up to the August 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, a group of people promoted memorials to suggest that the church divest from fossil fuels and/or invest in renewable energy, and worked to ensure that the issue was properly discussed by voting members.
To receive with gratitude the memorials of the Saint Paul Area, Metropolitan New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Upper Susquehanna and Northwestern Pennsylvania synods related to climate change and fossil fuels;
To urge all ELCA members, congregations and synods to inform and educate themselves about the effects of climate change through the lens of the “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” social statement, and to advocate for policies that reduce energy use and our dependence on fossil fuels and encourage development of renewable energy sources as an expression of our commitment to address climate change and caring for God’s creation;
To affirm the action of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly and subsequent action of the Church Council in 2014 related to the development of revised or additional investment screens on fossil fuels, and to support and commend ELCA members, congregations, synods, the churchwide organization, and related institutions and agencies such as ELCA Endowment Fund and Portico Benefit Services for their leadership efforts to invest in companies that are taking steps toward a sustainable environment;
To affirm Portico’s balanced approach to supporting this church’s principles and directives as stated in the social statements — including the commitment to help transition to an economy less dependent on fossil fuels.
That approach includes has included:
1. shareholder advocacy (filing and supporting resolutions on environmental issues, including 150 resolutions in 2015),
2. focused investment screening, which has identified 113 companies screened for environmental reasons, and
3. ramping up positive social investments, such as investments in companies that develop solar, wind and water power generation systems, repurposing waste products and reducing toxic emissions;
To call upon Portico to evaluate the viability of an optional fossil -free fund for retirement plan participants; and To call upon the ELCA to heed the call of the Lutheran World Federation Council in 2015 to member churches “not to invest in fossil fuels and to support energy efficiency and renewable energy companies, and to encourage their institutions and individual members to do likewise”; and
As part of this church’s response to the Lutheran World Federation’s call, to request that the ELCA churchwide organization review the ELCA’s applicable social teachings and Corporate Social Responsibility policies and procedures, with the goal of not investing in, and removing the largest fossil fuel companies as identified by Carbon Tracker, and investing in corporations which are taking positive steps toward a sustainable environment.