WHAT IS ECO CHURCH?
Rayleigh Vineyard is working hard to gradually reduce our carbon footprint, and show our love for our planet. Part of this is getting involved with Eco Church (https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/), a scheme for churches, run by A Rocha UK (http://arocha.org.uk/), to demonstrate the good news for God’s Earth.
If you’d like to get involved with Eco-Church yourself you can sign up and stay in touch with them (some of Rayleigh Vineyard already have) and check out their incredible pages of resources and ideas (https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/resources/).
WHAT CAN I DO?
We know it can be overwhelming but we have a ton of suggestions below to help you starting from the just-curious to the eco-warrior. It all tends to revolve around the R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Repair, Reuse, and Recycle, but if you should be able to find what level you are currently at and build up from there. By working together we can all make a difference!
Just starting out?
- Go explore! When you spend more time in your natural surroundings, being outside productively, or just wandering through wilderness, you come to appreciate it more and your motivation to protect it increases. Future generations will miss forests not carparks.
- Share and ride. Think about carpooling(https://www.blablacar.co.uk/), offering lifts(https://liftshare.com/uk), taking the bus, cycling, walking, etc. The less you use the car/s the better.
- Love your mug! Take a reusable travel mug out with you to save using disposable takeaway cups. Some cafe’s even give you a discount for doing so(http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/deals-hunter/2017/05/19/how-saving-the-planet-can-save-money-on-your-coffee/)!
- Go refillable. Have a stainless steel bottle with you for water and skip the plastic bottles.
- Switch your loyalties. Switching energy providers(https://www.moneysupermarket.com/gas-and-electricity/green-energy/) to renewable sources is a really easy way to show how you feel to big business and create a more sustainable world.
- E-everything. E-tickets for films, buses, flights, and more mean no more bits of paper and card clogging up your wallet or purse. Plus you’re far less likely to lose you phone.
- Junk out of trunk. Clear out the bits you’ve been dragging around with you. The less weight the more fuel efficiency and the less fuel you’ll buy.
- Less is more. Just get less!(http://www.erinspain.com/the-20-toy-rule-how-we-decluttered-our-playroom-simplified-our-life/) Kids can be the test for this but their lives are often full of toys they barely touch, are easily breakable, and made by companies looking to make a cheap product that drives sales up by bringing parents back for replacements. Try to buy better instead of more. Find the things they really love and will really play with, and let their imagination do the rest.
- Change the bulb. Switch your home’s lightbulbs to energy efficient LEDs(http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/energy/lowenergylightbulbs.aspx). They last longer, are better for the environment, and even lower the chance of household fires!
- Plug the gap. Repair the leaky tap(https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jan/07/how-to-fix-leaky-tap) or pipe. Not only will this save you potential issues later but it will save a lot of water.
Beginning to breakthrough.
- Go paperless. With so much now available online(http://uk.pcmag.com/personal-home-products/85583/feature/5-tools-you-need-to-finally-go-paperless) it’s super easy to cut down. Less paper, more trees!
- Refuse the straw. When we use something so little but so regularly, it adds up(https://thelastplasticstraw.org/).
- Borrow and lend. If you don’t own something but need to use one, ask around. Buying new is expensive and wasteful, borrowing (responsibly) builds on friendships and community. Likewise, why not check out the library instead of the bookshop.
- Roughing it. Staycations and glamping may not seem glamorous but they avoid planes, fuel, and cost. Plus all those travel size plastic wrapped cosmetics aren’t great either.
- Enough is enough. Don’t buy more than you need. A huge amount of food and other products are wasted because we never actually used them. By planning a little more and buying a little less we can have a huge impact.(https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/)
- Rescue and care. If you are thinking of gaining a new animal member of the family consider rescuing(https://www.rspca.org.uk/findapet). Whether it be dogs, cat, fish, or even ex-caged chickens(http://www.bhwt.org.uk/) it can be a wonderful addition to your lives.
- Resist convenience. Shops sell the easy life but not necessarily the ethical or sustainable option. For example, if you fancy melon pieces, buy a melon, chop it up, and store it in sealed containers(https://zerowastechef.com/2017/01/20/store-produce-without-plastic/) – you could even make tasty frozen melon lollies. Cut out the middle man for a better environment and budget.
- Packing perfection. Try lunchboxes (non-plastic) and beeswax wraps(https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/25/five-best-re-usable-sandwich-wrappers) to make your packed lunch – reusable, washable, wonderful.
- Not for me. Turn freebies down. You know that the free but cheap publicity pen the marketing guy gave you will end up in the bin one day, so say no. You don’t really want more clutter in your life anyway.
- Keep people warm. If your house is empty regularly during certain hours turn the heating off or at least down. If you get a little chilly try putting on a cosy jumper instead of defaulting to upping the radiator.
- Switch off. It is better for your mental health and your sleep patterns(https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side) to avoid blue light pollution so try a book instead of binge-watching, and if you’ve switched things off then they aren’t using energy overnight either. Win win!
- Green fingers. Get a houseplant or beautiful flowers instead of air freshener as they work better, and improve your mood(http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/how-indoor-plants-help-you-to-breathe-easier-and-can-lift-your-mood/). In the winter use spices and fruit to make gorgeous cinnamon-smelling fragrances to fill the house.
- Plenty of fish? Some fish are being caught in too greater numbers to be sustainable and our oceans impact every other part of the food cycle. The further down the chain the bigger the impact. Find out(http://www.fishfight.net/) what you should be avoiding for the greater good. Taking krill oil tablets? Ditch them for a healthy piece of sustainable line-caught fish.
- Buy in bulk. If you can buy in bulk it is cost effective in the long term and avoids a lot of waste.
- Grow your own.(https://www.growingyourownveg.com/) Even if you start with a simple herb or salad pot on the window sill, the more you grow, the less you buy and the less packaging and distribution required.
- Better bottoms. Reusable nappies(https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a559767/choosing-reusable-nappies) and wipes(http://www.cheekywipes.com/) have come a long way and are so much cheaper and easier to use than you expect, and don’t create poop mountains in landfill.
- Eat local (and ideally seasonally). By finding food closer to home you help farmers(http://www.country-enterprise.co.uk/index.htm) and small businesses and avoid a lot of the carbon footprint. Experiment, enjoy some food adventures, and keep producers acting ethically.
- Go vintage. Try buying clothing, shoes, and other items secondhand. You may well start a trend, save some pennies, and resist the temptation of fast fashion consumerism.
- Be unconventional. It might seem strange taking paper bags, tupperware, or glass jars to the shops, but if you can it will allow you too avoid the wrapping, plastic bags, and endless waste. Add homemade bags(http://www.morsbags.com/) for bonus points!
- Learn and repair. Sometimes a few basic sewing, craft, DIY, or cooking skills can go a long way. If you know how to sand down and revarnish a table you probably won’t buy a new one. If you can fix or upcycle that dress, you will save the money spent on the highstreet. If you can preserve the food you have collected it will last longer and you’ll waste less.
- Give memories. Instead of filling other people’s lives with stuff, think up memory-makers: activities you can do together, places you can visit, things to enjoy. Take a picture – it will last longer than any plastic wrapped bit of novelty.
- For the ladies: try a menstrual cup(https://www.bestadvisers.co.uk/menstrual-cups) or reusable pads(https://thegreenparent.co.uk/articles/read/5-reasons-to-choose-reusable-sanitary-products). Think about the number of throwaway items we go through in that horrid week, then multiply it by 12 for an entire year, then multiple again for the number of years so far. It adds up but it doesn’t have to.
- Pocket protest. Start supporting local, green, and ethical business. Your money makes a difference and you will probably find some treasures in your searches.
- Waste not want not. If you are clearing out rather than heading to the tip try giving away, gifting, or even selling. You’d be surprised what others might find useful. Freecycle(https://www.freecycle.org/) and Freegle(https://www.ilovefreegle.org/) are great options to start off.
- Fill your boots. Your freezer runs more efficiently when full(http://www.ehow.com/info_12114615_empty-vs-full-freezer-efficiency.html), which is great if you’ve filled it with useful bulk bought and prepped food for days when you’re tempted to buy takeaways!
- Choose character. OK, the pepper might not be red all over or the apple might have a tiny brown spot, but beauty is often only skin deep. If more people buy the less-than-picture-perfect then supermarkets might drop their often ridiculous standards and we’ll start making an impact on the sickening waste(https://www.rivercottage.net/war-on-waste) before it even gets to the shelves!
- Secondhand or smart. Buy furniture from charity shops or restorers (even eBay), or if you must buy new look for the smartest option available. When your baby’s cot will also be their toddler bed you’ve saved money and stuff being chucked out. Is there a way to have your coffee table as a dining table? Or mirror as an ironing board? Clever solutions are everywhere.
- Use old, stained or damaged clothes (that can’t be repaired) as cleaning rags, dusters, or even as crafting materials. No-one will have the same bunting and no-one will know it used to be your pyjamas!
- Consider substitutes(http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/alternatives-to-plastic.html): bamboo/corn starch toothbrushes instead of plastic, a soda stream instead of sparkling water bottles, recycled/bamboo toilet paper, traditional razor over disposable, solid shampoo bars, and that’s just the bathroom.
- Try veggie(https://www.vegsoc.org/goveggiehelp)/vegan(https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/how-go-vegan). There’s a lot more support and options for going veggie nowadays and it’s cheaper too. Even if you don’t cut out all meat/animal products, just dropping one day a week has a big effect on water usage and gas emissions produced.
- Choose quality (and repairable). The less moving pieces, the more likely it can be fixed. Similarly the materials used and the quality of design all help us choose items that will last a lifetime and be worth the initial investment.
- Giveaway, and gain. If you do end up with extras and no way to use it, why not offer it to someone else who could, friends, family, neighbours, or even a local soup kitchen will really appreciate it.
- Preserve plenty. By learning how to make food last, and really last, through preserving(https://www.lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/preserving-food/) you can have tasty food way out of season. Jams, chutneys, or even simply prepping supplies and meals to freeze for another day. It all stops food going to waste so we can feed bellies not bins.
- Rather than shifting all that waste food and scraps to landfill you can actually control it’s demise and gain something really valuable! Those bulky great bags of dirt are pricey at garden centres? You can make them yourself out of waste!(http://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/how-to-make-a-compost-heap-10-top-tips) Who knew!
- Granny knew better. Try clothe napkins and handkerchiefs instead of paper and tissue. They take up little-to-no room in a wash and save you money too.
- Make do. Use what you have to make something new. Check out those old pots of paint in the shed, ask around for spares, learn a new skill, or get creative and find a whole new solution.
- Prevention over cure. Look after what you’ve got. Whether it’s getting your car or bike serviced(http://www.theaa.com/driving-advice/fuels-environment/drive-smart) and looking after it for a longer life, or even loving yourself a little more so you stay healthier, it is all better than the waste of time and money solving a problem later.
- Good gadgets. Sad to say our technology is often a bad thing for our planet(http://www.digitalresponsibility.org/environmental-and-societal-impact-of-technology). Try to find ethical options, sustainable, and long-lasting products, and ones that can survive the inevitable crashes and bangs around the house. You might even want to consider a non-smart phone…
- Green ninjas! Seed bombing(http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Seed-Bomb/) your local area, at the side of pavements, on an unused patch of scrub land, or even in your own garden, can be an easy way to show some love and spread the joy. Wildflowers will help the bee population and create mini eco-systems for wildlife.
- Make your own. There are a ton of ways to create cleaning products that cost less that you can bulk buy materials for, or even get for free (conker detergent(http://www.naturallivingideas.com/horse-chestnuts-laundry-soap/) for example). Less chemicals means less environmental damage.
- Join up. Groups, community forums, and education spaces exist to share skills and support each other. If you don’t have a solution, someone else will, and we all gain.
Saving the world!
- Look up. The sun might not seem to appear much in the UK but the energy gained through solar(http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/renewable-energy/electricity/solar-panels) is a big deal. It could dramatically cut your bills and supports renewable energy over fossil fuels.
- Insulate creatively. Look up some sustainable options for insulation(http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/construction/green/5-green-insulation-options.htm) if you wanting to upgrade your house or flat; wool, cotton, and even recycled options exist. Also look at making extra layers to your curtains, adding rugs to the floors, draft excluders, and maybe just an extra throw to make use of all that cosiness.
- Invest wisely. Where is your money stored and what is it being used for? If your bank is funding industries that significantly damage the planet, and what lives on it, move your money somewhere else. There are some great local and national options who make amazing positive(https://colour-of-money.co.uk/positive-investment/) impacts on our world. Support them.
- Real Junk Food. Why not set up a pay-as-you-feel cafe(http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/) using wasted (but edible) produce or even a swap-and-share shop for food that isn’t going to be sold. Good food should be used!
- Innovate and invent. If you think you can solve a problem and make our lives better then have a go! You might really make an amazing impact.
- Suggest solutions! If you’ve got more suggestions let us know and we’ll spread the green-hearted love! You’re our hero.