God not only blessed us with creation, but called us to care for it. At TPC, we take to heart this central tenet of our covenant with God, and work to lead both churchgoers and the community at large in addressing the growing environmental concerns we face.
TPC first earned this special designation from the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2010 for our “environmental stewardship achievements in worship, education, facilitates and outreach activities.” And TPC has been re-certified every year since—an effort that requires achieving increasingly stricter results each year. To learn more about this distinction, please click here.
Earth Corps (part of TPC’s Mission Outreach Committee) is a special team that leads the church and greater community in celebrating and caring for God’s creation. The team strives to help the church:
- nurture souls through worship experiences both in our sanctuary and out in nature
- teach children and adults about ways to treat the earth more gently
- encourage lifestyles of consuming, conserving and sharing that promote a sustainable environment
- support public efforts to better care for the environment that are fair and just to the vulnerable and the poor.
To learn more about Earth Corps and TPC’s Creation Care ministries, please click here.
TPC proudly grows an Intergenerational Garden (IGG) on the church’s yard across the side street from our building. There, both children and adults come together in the garden, not only learning how to garden, but also about the interdependence of our ecosystem, the importance of sustainable practices in agriculture, and the benefits of eating healthy foods grown locally. As we do, fellowship and community-building abound, and we grow in our understanding of what it means to be good stewards of the land.
All the food grown and harvested in the garden is donated to the hungry via local food pantries.
To see the latest happenings in the garden, visit the IGG blog.
Why are we focusing on reducing our use of plastics as a key practice of environmental stewardship? Here are some facts which may surprise you (source):
- Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
- Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050.
- Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
- Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down.
Week One of Challenge (June 6-12)
To begin the challenge, complete this Plastic Audit.
Be sure and record items as you use or toss them so you won't forget. You can do this as a family unit or have each family member complete their own audit. (source; adapted)
Week Two of Challenge (June 13-19)
Did you know? According to the website “Global Citizen”, a 2017 report by the Guardian found that 1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, and this number was predicted to increase by another 20% by 2021. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/plastic-pollution-facts/
Closer to home: the small pieces of plastic debris less than five millimeters in size that result from breakdown of consumer plastics and industrial waste – have been found in all water samples take at nontidal stations in the Chesapeake watershed. https://www.chesapeakeby.net/news/blog/smallplasticsareabigproblem
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Join the growing movement of people who already make the daily choice to B.Y.O. water bottle.
Week Three of Challenge (June 20-26)
Just how bad is the problem?
Nearly one-third of the plastic packaging we use ends up clogging our city streets and polluting our natural environment. Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastic leaks into our oceans where it endangers marine wildlife. That’s the same as pouring an entire garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight) Sources: www.worldenvironmentday.global/en/about/beatplastic-pollution and www.Earthday.org) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:More_Plastic_in_the_ Ocean_than_Fish_Infographic.png
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Look again at your plastics audit. Is there one item on the list that you can cut out completely? Talk to your family or a friend about how you can do this? We all know sharing goals with someone else increases the probability that we will be successful.
Want to be inspired? Visit the website for Mr. Trash Wheel and learn more about the plastics that get dumped into the Jones Falls watershed. Better yet, plan a Fathers’ Day outing to the Inner Harbor and pay Mr. Trash Wheel a visit.
Week Four of Challenge (June 27 - July 3)
In addition to the huge issue of plastics pollution generated by disposable plastics, plastic contributes to climate change as well. Plastic is made from petroleum and making plastic products accounts for around 8 percent of the world’s oil production. (Source: World Economic Forum)
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE: by using reusable shopping bags. Use them not only when you go grocery shopping but at any store you go to. (PS…they hold more than plastic bags). And, if you forgot your bag and end up with a plastic one, plan to recycle it where bags are accepted for recycle such as Giant OR reuse them as long as you can. Possible uses: wrap and protect fragile items for a move or storage, wrap paint brushes and rollers, protect tender plants from overnight frost (next fall or spring).
Week Five of Challenge (July 4 - 10)
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
Be on the cutting edge. BYO utensils. In coming years, bringing your own utensils will be as common as bringing your own water bottle is now. Be a leader in this environmental movement: use extra tableware you have at home instead of disposable plastic. Keep an extra set in your bag, car, or office.
Ordering take-out? Start by saying no to plastic utensils. Plastic cutlery is one of those items that won’t get recycled even when you put it in the recycling. It’s too contaminated. It’s too small. It's too lightweight. So those 40 billion plastic utensils per year are a complete waste. (Source)
Week Six of Challenge (July 11-17)
An important piece of legislation introduced in Congress is the “Break Free from Plastics Pollution Act.” Click here to explore its dedicated website, where you can watch an excellent 8-minute. You can also view the video below:
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Contact your senator and congressperson and let them know that, as person of faith, you support legislation to reduce plastics pollution. They really do listen and acting together as citizens we can help shape the future.
Week Seven of Challenge (July 18-24)
Acceptable Plastics for single stream recycling:
- All plastic bottles and jugs
- Wide-mouth plastic containers (such as butter, cottage cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream and whipped topping containers)
- Rigid plastics (such as buckets, drinking cups, coolers, drums, five-gallon water bottles, flower pots, lawn furniture, pallets, plastic window well covers and clothes hangers; pieces must not exceed 3 by 5 feet in size)
Note: The number on the bottom of a plastic container does not determine whether that item is recyclable. These numbers simply show what type of resin has been used to make a product, and were not intended as a recycling guide. Follow the listing above to learn what items are acceptable for recycling in Baltimore County.
Note: Laundry baskets, garbage containers and recycling containers will be collected for recycling IF a note requesting this is prominently attached.
For more information on recycling plastics (and other materials) go to the Baltimore County Website.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Every time you and others in your household reduce single use plastics, recycle as many necessary plastics as you can, and advocate for good public policy, you make a measurable difference in helping to care for God’s creation and secure a healthy and just future for all God’s people.