Practising the Sixth Promise

Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?
I will, with God’s help. –The sixth promise of The Baptismal Covenant
By far, the most frequent creation care question asked by Anglicans is “What can I do to care for creation at home and in my parish?” In the face of environmental degradation and rapid climate change, there is tremendous desire to take action, but a lack of direction as to where to begin.
Over time, scribbled notes and references in my Creation Matters file have evolved into a growing list of things we can do. Possible actions seem to fall into into six general areas of concern. Within each of these categories, I have loosely arranged suggestions according to perceived difficulty and/or cost. A good way to start might be to check off all the things you are already doing and then tackle a new one. Or, if you are really eager, take on one from each of the six lists.
However you choose to use this resource, God’s creation will benefit. You will be keeping your baptismal covenant. And your children will thank you.

Energy

Grid-tie Solar Array

Starting Out

  • Put reminders near light switches to turn off the lights when not in use.
  • Open blinds and drapes during the day and close them at night.
  • Replace standard light bulbs with LEDs.
  • Install programmable thermostats.
  • Use dishwasher only when full, on light wash and air dry.
  • Remove dust from refrigerator condenser coils.
  • Wash laundry in cold water and hang to dry when possible.
  • Lower hot water tank temperature to 49C (120F).
  • Replace furnace filters every two months.

Getting Better

  • Install movement detectors on lights in bathrooms.
  • Eliminate standby loads by using power bars to turn off entertainment and office equipment.
  • Install a hot water tank insulation blanket and insulate pipes within three feet of the tank.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors.

Doing More

  • Install outlets with switches so you can cut entire circuits at night.
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances as need arises.
  • Upgrade insulation: attic to R40 and basement to R18.
  • Replace windows with triple-glazed low-e argon units.
  • Install a grid-tie mini-split heat pump for both heating and cooling.
  • Install a grid-tie solar array.

Transportation

Electric Car

Starting Out

  • Keep up-to-date bus schedules handy.
  • Carpool; pair riders with drivers for Sunday services.
  • Avoid idling.

Getting Better

  • Keep engines tuned, air filters clean, and tires properly inflated.
  • Post an “Idle Free Zone” sign.
  • Ride the bus.
  • Install a bike rack at church.

Doing More

  • Buy a bike and ride it.
  • Buy a hybrid vehicle or, even better, an all-electric car.
  • Drive 85 kph on the highway.

Water

Trickle Irrigation

Starting Out

  • Use water only after sunset when watering plants and gardens.
  • Avoid hosing down driveways and walkways.
  • Stop using bottled water.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator, perhaps with lemon or cucumber.
  • Fix leaking faucets, pipes, and hoses.
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth.
  • Take shorter showers.

Getting Better

  • Use a drip hose for watering.
  • Use mulch.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.

Doing More

  • Install trickle irrigation.
  • Install low-flush toilets.

Waste

Three Bin Composter

Starting Out

  • Replace all disposables with reusable materials, like saran wrap with beeswax wraps.
  • Carry along your own water bottle and coffee mug.
  • Keep shopping bags and reusable produce bags by the door or in the car.
  • Always make double-sided copies or avoid paper copies altogether.
  • Donate used clothing to a thrift organization.
  • Properly recycle ink cartridges, cell phones, batteries, oil, and paint.

Getting Better

  • Reduce packaging by buying from a bulk bin and using your own container.
  • Organize a church garage sale.
  • Put recycling bins in handy locations.
  • Learn about composting.

Doing More

  • Buy or build a composter.
  • Keep a compost bucket in the kitchen and post a list of compostable waste.

Food

Greenhouse

Starting Out

  • Buy as much local produce as possible.
  • Buy organically grown produce whenever possible.
  • Buy Canadian wine for communion.

Getting Better

  • Eat meat less often.
  • Organize a 100-Mile church dinner.
  • Buy or make organic bread for communion.
  • Serve fair trade coffee and tea.
  • Buy/sell fair trade chocolate.

Doing More

  • Plant a vegetable garden.
  • Plant fruit trees.
  • Construct a greenhouse.
  • Organize a collective garden on church property and share the produce.

Landscape

Bee Planting

Starting Out

  • Replace pesticides and chemical fertilizers with natural solutions.
  • Use sand or grit on icy pavement instead of salt.
  • Program outdoor lighting to turn on at dusk and off at midnight.
  • For painting fences and walls, use recycled or low VOC paint.
  • Plant perennial native vegetation instead of annuals.

Getting Better

  • Plant trees to celebrate occasions.
  • Plant vines on the south side of the building.
  • Install light shields to direct outdoor lighting to the ground.
  • Put up and maintain a bird feeder.
  • Put up a bat box.
  • Sow a bed of wildflowers for the bees and other pollinators.

Doing More

  • Buy an electric lawn mower.
  • Replace lawn with low-maintenance ground cover such as clover or thyme.
  • Install a gravel-filled trench beside driveways and parking lots to drain water naturally.
  • Use permeable paving stones or plastic matrix instead of solid pavement for your driveway.
  • Leave a wild area untouched at the back of your property.

Beverley Eert is the Creation Matters Working Group representative in the Diocese of Brandon. She has a degree in Architecture from the University of British Columbia and ran her own design and building company in Vancouver before retiring to Manitoba.

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