How do we show good faith in searching for next steps on our journey to our right relationship with creation?
In the spirit of evolving revelation, we have come to find our current practices and behaviors out of step with the right relationship to protect and enhance life resilience on Earth and a sustainable role for our human community.
As acknowledged by the Shared Quaker Statement, “Facing the Challenge of Climate Change”, our calling is to find practices that avoid burning remaining known fossil fuel reserves. An agreement emerged from the COP 21, Paris Climate negotiations in December, 2015, where 196 nations acknowledged the imperative to achieve a net zero carbon emissions economy. To achieve this, the carbon we collectively burn must be no more than the carbon our living community can sequester out of atmosphere.
With the recognition of our collective limits, the people of the world are seeing common interest in supporting each other to achieve this goal.
As Quakers, we are challenged to imagine our journey to the Peaceable Kingdom beyond the era of fossil fuels. All journeys continue with each step. Without identifying and resolving all the challenges to achieve transformation, we are tasked to take immediate steps that move us in that direction.
The BYM Unity with Nature Committee offers suggestions for Next Steps as a tool we can use individually and collectively to show good faith to our beloved creation. We affirm our positive direction and openness to spirit as we see the way opening, and we invite you to collaborate and share your steps and evolve this living document as you are led.
Unity with Nature Environmental To Do List
Is our carbon footprint within our fair share of the atmosphere’s capacity to safely absorb carbon?
- Are you called to calculate your carbon emissions?
- Consider on line tools described in the Carbon Footprint Fact Sheet
- Use a spreadsheet to calculate direct use emissions. Download template as a point of departure to customize.
Have I considered my choices when it comes to transportation, seeking to reduce my use of fossil fuels whenever possible? Some possible steps are….
Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 lbs of CO2 out of the atmosphere. Even driving 10 miles less/week saves 500lbs CO2 /year
- Ask yourself if you need a car and/or how many vehicles does your family need?
- Consider how you can reduce your car use: bike, walk, public/mass transport, car pool, car sharing.
- Maintain your vehicle in optimum condition, properly inflating tires
- When making the choice to buy a car, choose smallest, most fuel-efficient you can
- Choose closer-to-home options whenever possible – shopping, vacationing, commuting
- Consider how you can live closer to work, schools, shops and reduce your daily travel
- Consider the impact of long-distance travel, choosing buses, trains over flying
- Drive conscious of the outcome – don’t idle, speed,
- Remove roof racks when not in use for long time (reduce weight and wind resistance)
- Create car pools for work/school
- Telecommute when possible
Do I seek to meet my needs for personal comfort in a sustainable way? Some steps I might take include…
- Get energy audit and look at ways to make your home/Meeting/workplace 100% energy efficient
- Determine your Carbon Footprint with an online calculator
- Ask your utility to switch your account to green energy from renewable sources; advocate for them if they don’t have them already. Buy “green power” from renewable, either through your electric utility or from a third-party supplier, where available.
- Consider installing solar panels and hot water system
- Optimally insulate and weatherize attics, ceilings, floors and windows
- Turn off when not in use
- Install auto off timers
- Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs (Saves 60% electricity)
- Install programmable thermostat
- Adjust thermostat 2 degrees (or more): down in cold months, up in hot months
- Clean/replace filters on furnaces and ac units
- Don’t let heat escape from your house over a long period of time in hot and cold months. Close windows, attic stairs
- Replace single-glaze windows with double-glazed
- Run washer and dishwashers only when full
- Buy/replace with energy efficient (Energy Star rated) models
- Maintain, operate optimally, defrost older refrigerators/freezers
- Try air drying clothing naturally, indoors or out.
- Don’t leave appliances on stand-by. Unplug TVs, computers, microwaves, other electronics when not in use
- Take more showers than baths (uses 4X less energy); limiting to 5 min
- Install a H2O-saving showerhead
- Wash clothes in cold or warm H20
- Insulate H20 heater and set at lowest temperature needed
- Fix drips and leaks as soon as you find them
Food, Garden and Shopping
Do I consider the impact of my food and shopping choices on the health of the earth? Some things I might consider are….
- Buy locally-grown, organic, seasonal food whenever possible, supporting farmer’s markets and produce stands (organic soil sequesters CO2 at much higher levels)
- Grow some of your own food, using permaculture and organic models
- Adjust diet to eat lower on the food chain more often. Try 3 meatless meals/week. Reducing meat consumption, especially beef, reduces methane gas (2nd most significant greenhouse gas)
- Plant trees!
- Compost organic waste
- Become toxic-free, using biodegradable solutions in home and garden
- install rain barrels to use in gardens and outside cleaning
- limit watering time, plant hearty plants that can adjust to wide variation in temperature and precipitation
- Use bird-, pollinator- and earth-friendly gardening techniques and products
- Make your yard a bird and pollinator sanctuary
- Buy in bulk and refills, to reduce packaging
- Use reusable shopping bags and NO PLASTIC
- Reduce all plastic use (bottles, bags, packaging)
- Buy used, recycled, pre-loved items whenever possible
- Buy new items made from sustainable, low-impact materials
- Advocate for stores to support recycling and minimal packaging
Have I examined my patterns of consumption, considering the impact on the earth and its future? Do I use more than I need? Some steps I might take include…
Garbage buried in landfills produces methane.
- Establish guidelines for purchasing decisions, to help reduce over-consumption and the need to discard or recycle
- Recycle paper, plastic, metal, glass – all that is possible
- Reduce use of “disposables” – paper towels, lunch bags
- Clean out closets, attics, basements, garages, donating/sharing what you don’t need and using/repurposing what you already have
- Consider a neighbor “share” program – from lawn mowers and garden tools and equipment, books/magazines to cars and trucks
- See how little you can put in your trashcan!
Advocacy and Strong Communities
How am I called to advocate for the earth? Are my actions and words grounded in my spiritual beliefs? Some steps to consider are…
- Become more informed about local and state policies and issues
- Encourage organizations you are involved in to become more earth conscious and adopt environment-friendly practices
- Create a workplace recycle program
- Organize/participate in local tree-planting and community garden initiatives
- Protect and conserve forests –locally to worldwide
- Consider the impact of your/workplace investments, seeking to support the environment and impact climate change (SocialInvest.com, Ceres.org)
- Participate in UwN, QEW, FCNL initiatives when the call for action is sounded
- Pricing carbon emission (which includes a carbon tax)
- Renewable energy solutions at the state and local level
- “Cool city” changes in transportation and energy use (coolcities.us)
- Clean Energy Plan in your state
Let your voice be heard!
- Contact your local and state representatives and let them know your perspective. Also applaud and show appreciation when they support clean energy and address climate change issues.
- The decisions made at COP21 in Paris require each country to follow-through on the promises made for the 1.5C limit to be real. Be the conscience of your elected representative, let them know you are watching them and expect them to be accountable.
- Organize/participate, as you are led, in direct, peaceful actions such as demonstrations, disinvestment efforts, and civil disobedience.