Magazine articles

January/February 2017

March/April 2017

May/June 2017

July/August 2017

 

January/February 2017

What will you give up for Lent?

Some years ago I gave up chocolate for Lent.  It was hard but I managed it.  Finally Easter arrived and I could indulge my addiction again – but horror of horrors I found I no longer much cared for the taste.  It took me some weeks of determined application before I could truly call myself a chocoholic again!   Many people give up food or drink for Lent but here are some alternative actions we could take instead which would benefit not just ourselves but the planet.

For example

1 We could give up wasting food.

In the UK in 2015 7.3 million tonnes of edible food (worth £13 billion) were thrown away.  It was estimated that the average person could save £200 a year by shopping and planning their food consumption better.  In addition most food waste goes into landfill where it produces methane gas and adds to the problem of global warming.

One reason for so much waste is misunderstanding of food labelling.  Only two labels are really important - ‘use by’ and ‘best before’.

‘Use by’ dates apply to perishable foods e.g. fresh meat, fish.  The date given is the cut-off date after which it is considered unsafe to eat the product.  It is important therefore to look at these dates when buying food and also to keep an eye on them in the fridge.  If you are not going to be able to eat it by the ‘use by’ date then you can freeze or cook/freeze the item to use later. 

‘Best before’ dates refer to the quality of the product.  It will still be safe to eat after the ‘best before’  date but may not taste quite as good although you could remedy that by using some extra herbs or spices or adding a little wine or cream.

Labels such as ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ are just instructions to the retailer to help their stock control.  The labels do not refer to the safety or quality of the food.

Many foods remain edible even beyond the ‘use by’ date e.g.  foods with lots of fat such as hard  cheese, sugary foods like jams or biscuits, salty items like pickles or crisps, dried pasta, rice, pulses and tinned goods.   If it looks OK and smells OK it more than likely is OK.  A useful website which provides advice about how long food lasts is www.eatby.com

2. We could give up buying too much food

I shop weekly and now try to buy for 6 days rather than 7 as I often find I have more than I need.   If I do miscalculate, I either buy on the day, treat myself to a takeaway or fall back on something from the store cupboard.   The experts say that when people plan their meals and make a shopping list they are much less likely to overbuy.

3. We could give up throwing away our leftovers

 You can make delicious soup from chicken bones, or leftover vegetables and potatoes.  Try stretching small amounts of meat with lots of vegetables, make bread and butter pudding (both savoury and sweet), add leftovers to stir-frys or pasta sauces

If you exhaust all the possibilities for yourself, don’t forget the birds or the compost heap.  Mix leftover fat with scraps of meat, breadcrumbs, peanuts, oats and a few raisins to make a delicious pudding for the birds. (This also saves disposing of the fat elsewhere and helps avoid ‘fatbergs’ in our sewers.)  Anything which goes on the compost heap is not completely wasted.

4.  We could give up driving so much.

 I know it’s not possible for lots of people, but the rest of us could make the effort to walk a bit more.  Even one car journey saved a week would help. 

5. We could give up sitting in our cars with the engine running.

 I live near Sutton Girls School and see people doing this every day.  It is a major cause of pollution and is particularly harmful to babies and young children. 

6. We could give up using the tumble drier so much. 

Instead we could hang washing outside when the weather is fine and use the heat from radiators when it’s not.

These are just some of the topics we have discussed recently at Eco-Maney and we would be very glad to have more suggestions from people at St Peter’s.

 

Notes from Eco Maney for Parish Magazine (January/February 2017)

Plastic Bag recycling

If you have plastic bags you wish to recycle, some supermarkets provide bins for their customers.  Currently we have noticed that Sainsbury’s and Waitrose at Mere Green provide this service.  Tesco’s at New Oscott have stopped this recycling service.  Eco Maney has written to the company urging them to start it again.

Paper for your printer

St Peter’s has moved to using recycled paper in the office.  This is bought at a reasonable price because we subscribe to the C of E Parish Buying scheme.  We have arranged that the paper will be available on the monthly Traidcraft stall at the cost price of £3 per ream/packet.  This is another small way that we can preserve the resources of the Earth.

Garden Recycling Bins

The City’s service for collecting your garden rubbish in the brown-top  bins starts again on March 6th (or the next week, depending on which week your blue-top bin is collected).

Traidcraft Stall Results for 2016

We have managed a big jump in takings at the stall.  The figures for 2016 from our supplier at Wylde Green URC show that we sold some £800 worth of goods more than last year.

 

March/April 2017

Eco Maney Notes

You may have wondered why our Eco Church status has not led us to set up a car-sharing scheme.  This is an obvious way of reducing our carbon footprint without too much trouble.

Eco Maney discussed the idea at a recent meeting and discovered that if St Peter’s officially ran such a scheme, then the church would have to incur the expense of insurance cover for organising the project.   So although it’s a fine ‘green’ idea, we won’t be going down that road (ouch).

 

May/June 2017

“The SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem) field can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people’s natural predisposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting, or can’t explain.”

From Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams

 

It took a determined effort over several days for me to break through the SEP field shielding my computer in order to complete a WWF personal carbon footprint audit (http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/). Rather than rewarding my tenacity, the website informed me that my carbon footprint was 124% of my share, over twice the world average. This is equivalent to 12.7 tonnes of carbon, or the emissions of 13 medium haul flights, or the annual emissions of 7 small cars. Charming!

One of the issues discussed at our recent Eco Maney meeting was the impact of our lifestyles on the environment. Some of these effects are all too obvious. The increasing ownership and use of cars has resulted in road congestion and deterioration of our air quality. The over packaging of supermarket food and burgeoning fast food industry has led to increased amounts of waste and litter. Heating our homes draws on the ever dwindling supply of natural energy reserves. However, as a result of climate change it is those living in some of the world’s poorest countries who will bear the most serious consequences of our modern lifestyles. Over the coming decades, it is predicted that weather, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, with become more extreme, with draught and flash flooding contributing to increasingly poor harvests. If our world cannot offer effective humanitarian relief for the awful famines happening today, how will we cope if the situation deteriorates in the future?

In the face of such huge global problems, it is tempting to bury our heads in the sand. But, if we are prepared to take our duty of stewardship for God’s creation seriously, this isn’t an option.  Looking critically at our own carbon footprint, using a carbon footprint audit tool or something similar, is a useful way of focusing on the small practical steps we can take.  For example, we could think for a moment about whether our journey is really necessary before jumping into the car. Could we benefit from the exercise of walking instead? Or, if we struggle to get around, could we ask our friends or neighbours whether they would like to car-share to church or the supermarket; this may be appreciated for social reasons as much as anything else! And, when changing our cars, we could consider a hybrid or electric vehicle, or at least avoiding a car with a highly polluting diesel engine. When we are shopping it is fairly easy to get into the habit of recycling carrier bags and avoiding over packaged food, although this is more challenging with internet shopping (and when shopping for a baby!). It is also worth looking beyond the “big six” energy providers for domestic energy: many smaller companies offer power from renewable sources (see https://www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk/domestic-switch).

Our individual actions alone will not stop climate change. But perhaps we can at least turn off our Somebody Else’s Problem fields, acknowledge the problem and our part in it, and think about how we might change our lifestyles for the better.

 

July/August 2017

Eco Church – the next step

Being a practising Christian is not all lovely services and meeting nice people, sometimes it is hard and responsible work, as the Care Team, Cleaning Team & others know .  And being an Eco Church is no exception.  No sooner did we get our Bronze Award than the Bishop asked us to take the lead for the whole diocese by being ready to encourage other parishes who are wondering what to do.

And the Eco Church scheme expects us all as individuals to keep an eye on our lifestyle and to aim to be as green as our personal circumstances allow.

At the beginning of May, Owen introduced us to one way that we can all get a rough idea about our own carbon footprint.  He pointed us to the ‘tool’ provided by the World Wildlife Fund (http:/footprint.wwf.org.uk/).  Some of us in Eco Maney used our computers to do this check.  We thought we would have ‘good’ scores, but that wasn’t the case.

During September we want to encourage St Peter’s members to try this lifestyle audit.  We will then make a count of how many people joined in.  We won’t want your results, just whether you did the exercise.  The point is that we need to show that this is a congregation supported project.

And for those who are a bit uncertain about computers, we will have a session in coffee-time with laptops and personal guidance on how to use the ‘tool’.  Please join in and help us to move towards a Silver Award in Eco Church.

And as for the reason why we at St Peter’s are taking our carbon footprint seriously, we have recently seen a pamphlet from USPG which contains the following ‘reverse mission message’ from Canon Samitiana Jhonson in Madagascar: “The church has also started to think more about how we can protect the land, manage our water and support communities hit by disasters.....Globally we know that we are facing different degrees of climate change and that some parts of the world are more exposed than others.  But the impact of climate change cannot be denied: it is visible and real and we need to help each other to understand that.  We need to be globally aware and to think deeply on behalf of communities where climate change is life-destroying.  We need to listen to each other as one community and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that we may rebuild lives and face climate change together.  As Christians, Creation – and re-creation – must be part of our liturgy and teaching.”