If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
--Lyndon B. Johnson

Announcing Prizes for Texas Congregations Participating in the Cool Congregations Challenge!

The challenge: congregations have a year to reduce their carbon footprints.

There are two national awards:
$5,000 for the congregation in the United States with the lowest overall emissions per congregant
$5,000 for the biggest carbon loser—the congregation in the United States that has shrunk its footprint the most (as a percentage) by the end of the year

In addition, Texas Interfaith Power & Light is offering two state-level awards:
$500 for the Texas congregation with the lowest overall emissions per congregant
$500 for the biggest carbon loser—the Texas congregation that has shrunk its footprint the most (as a percentage) by the end of the year

THE DEADLINE TO ENTER THE COOL CONGREGATIONS CHALLENGE IS MARCH 1, SO DON'T DELAY--DO IT TODAY! 

To get more information and to take the challenge, visit CoolCongregations.com.

2nd Annual Caring for Creation Conference at Mt. Sequoyah March 27-29

Christians from at least eight states will gather at the 2nd annual Caring for Creation Conference at Mount Sequoyah Conference Center March 27-29, 2009.

They are coming together to embrace "creation care" as a matter of faith. They will examine the Biblical and theological foundations for the care of God's creation. They will also attend workshops designed to inspire faith communities to initiate, develop and sustain programs that protect and celebrate God's creation. "It's incumbent upon us as faithful Christians to live a life that's just and sustainable and loving of each other and of the earth", states John Hill.

For details go to www.mountsequoyah.org and click on events; call 800-760-8126 or email programs@mountsequoyah.org.

 

How Cool is Your Congregation?

Take the Interfaith Power and Light Carbon Footprint Quiz

Enter the contest between now and March 1, 2009 for a chance to win money for your congregation:

$5,000 for the congregation with the lowest overall emissions per congregant (in pounds)
$5,000 for the biggest carbon loser - the congregation that has shrunk its footprint the most (as a percentage)

This is a nationwide contest, but we think Texas congregations are up to the challenge and that we can win this thing!

Here’s how it works:

1. Gather information.  Download our checklist so you can collect data about your congregation.

2. Enter the contest before March 1, 2009.  

3. Lower your congregation’s carbon footprint.  The calculator will suggest ways to get started, and we have more ideas at our website.

4. Invite congregants to take the household challenge. Together we can make even more of an impact. 

5. Measure your progress.  Come back to the Cool Congregations website to see how you and your congregation have improved.  (Remember, the contest ends March 1, 2010.)

The Cool Congregations Challenge will be a great way for your congregation to start the New Year.  Good luck!

 

Host a Film Screening and Discussion on a Topic That Hits Close to Home: “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars”

We worked to stop the coal rush here in Texas, and now we’re in the movies!  Sign up to host a discussion in your congregation and you’ll get the new version of this documentary that includes an interview with Bee Moorhead, Executive Director of Texas Interfaith Power and Light, and shows how Texans of faith made a difference.  You’ll also find resources like a downloadable discussion guide, fact sheets about coal and mercury, a guideline for writing letters to the editor, and much more.

About the film:
Narrated by Robert Redford and produced by The Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve and Alpheus Media, FIGHTING GOLIATH: TEXAS COAL WARS follows the story of Texans fighting a high-stakes battle for clean air. The film introduces the unlikely partners-mayors, ranchers, CEOs, community groups, legislators, lawyers, and people of faith – that have come together to oppose the construction of 19 conventional coal-fired power plants that were slated to be built in Eastern and Central Texas and that were being fast-tracked by the Governor.

Stop the Coal Rush rally

 Sign up to host a screening in your congregation! 

Environmental New Year Resolutions

It’s that time again—time to consider our habits and resolve to improve them in the New Year.  With that in mind, we have compiled a few simple ideas to help Texans help the environment and save some money in 2009. 

Remember, you can apply many of these tips to congregational life as well!

 

Use Less Electricity

  • Turn off lights and fans when you leave the room.
  • Plug your electronic equipment into a power strip** & turn off the whole strip when not in use.
  • Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs.**
  • Set thermostats** to 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.  Slowly adjust by changing one degree at a time.
  • Wash clothes in cold water only.
  • Insulate your hot water heater.
  • Take advantage of energy-efficient tax credits to buy Energy Star appliances in 2009! 

   Use Less Water 

  • Scrape off those dishes instead of rinsing before running the dishwasher.
  • Only wash full loads in the dishwasher and in the washing machine.
  • Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth.
  • Water your lawn in the morning or the evening only to reduce evaporation losses.
  • Landscape with native Texas plants, trees, and grasses that require minimal watering.
  • Don’t pour it down the drain!  Pour that half-full glass of water onto a plant instead.
  • Install low-flow shower heads** and faucet aerators,** and put “toilet tank banks”** in your older-model toilets.   

Make Less Waste

  • Recycle!  Go to earth911.com to find out where and how to recycle just about anything.
  • Bring those re-usable grocery or canvass bags to stores with you—and not just to grocery stores.  Keep a few in the car so you’ll always have them on hand.
  • Compost your fruit, vegetable, and yard waste.  It makes great mulch for your plants.
  • Drink from re-usable water containers instead of plastic water bottles.
  • Store leftovers and pack lunches with re-usable containers instead of plastic baggies.
  • Rinse and re-use the plastic baggies that you do use.
  • Become a conscious shopper: buy in bulk and avoid products with excessive packaging when possible.

 Be Less Toxic

  • Recycle used batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs to prevent mercury pollution.  Go to earth911.com to find out where to recycle in your neighborhood.
  • Make your own environmentally- and health-friendly cleaning products with common household ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda. 
  • Use laundry and dish soaps that are phosphate-free to help protect Texas waterways.
  • Never dispose of paint or clean paint brushes in the street—that’ll go untreated into local waterways.  Clean brushes with latex paint in your sink; clean oil paint in a container with solvent.  Save leftover paint for later use, donate it, or recycle it.
  • Buy locally-grown, organic foods when possible.  It’s good for the environment and your local economy.
  • Avoid using pesticides in your yard and garden, and switch to organic fertilizers.
  • Instead of using pesticides in and around your home, try prevention first: trim tree limbs so they don’t touch your roof (many insects and critters get into homes this way); seal cracks around windows and doors; and keep piles of rocks, firewood, and brush away from the perimeter of your home.

For more information on ways to go green in Texas, visit the State Energy Conservation Office’s website for residential consumers and Resources for the Public from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  And feel free to call us here at Texas Interfaith Power and Light at 512-472-3903.

What are your environmental New Year's resolutions--for yourself and for your congregation?  Tell us here!

Church Works Together to Install Rain Water Collection System

Rainwater storage tanksOn November 8, 2008, the Rock United Methodist Church in Cedar Park, TX completed the plumbing of a rain water harvesting system that is ready to capture the rain water from the church's roof in three large storage tanks. Three inches of rainfall will yield about 15,000 gallons, enough to fill the tanks. Depending on how the rainfall is spread out over the year, the system should provide the capture and use of about 80,000 to 120,000 gallons of water per year, reducing consumption of the municipal water supply and the related energy, and providing non-chlorinated, calcium-free, neutral-pH water that is ideal for irrigation. It will also reduce storm water runoff and erosion from the church property.
 
The system will soon include a pump to supply the drip irrigation system already in use for the church landscaping. A garden is planned, just downhill from the water tanks, which will be irrigated by gravity. The addition of three more water tanks, and a permanent water feature in the landscape, are also under consideration. Working together on plumbing
 
This rain water system was funded primarily by donations from family and friends of the pastor, Tina Carter, and her husband Bill, who recently became accredited in rain water catchment systems with the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. These donors have been kept up to date on the progress of the system and have offered continuing encouragement. The installation was accomplished almost entirely through volunteer labor by church members gathered over a dozen or more work days, with donated services of a trencher from Roadway Specialties to dig the trunk line ditch (although it took plenty of hand digging to complete and perfect the trenches). The Rock UMC is planning workshops beginning in 2009 to help other churches learn how to install similar systems. 

We thank Bill Carter for sending us this great success story.  Stay tuned for more information!

Plumbing in trench         More plumbing

Contribute to TXIPL's Matching Fund

For the second year in a row, Texas Interfaith Power & Light has received a matching grant from the Tides Foundation to support our work with Texas congregations on energy, air pollution and global warming. We have until the end of 2008 to raise $10,000 as a 1:1 match for the grant.

 

Please consider making a contribution toward our goal! Click on the link below to make a secure online donation, or mail your check to:

Texas Interfaith Power & Light

221 East 9th Street #403

Austin, Texas 78701

 

DONATE NOW

 

Bright Ideas Fundraiser

If you can't stand the thought of doing yet another car wash or bake-sale, try selling compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and water conservation tools this year! Bright Ideas fundraising makes it easy for you to sell energy efficient products, which allow your youth group, mission team, or choir to raise money while protecting God's creation.

Bright Ideas
works in conjunction with Texas Interfaith Power and Light (TXIPL) and ShopIPL.org, the online store of the Interfaith Power and Light movement. They provide high-quality energy efficient products at affordable prices for faith communities and their members.

Congregation Beth Israel
in Austin took part in their first Bright Ideas fundraiser this February. Inspired by the concept of Tikkun Olam, or "repairing the world," the youth of the congregation went door-to-door and sold more than 300 light bulbs. Rabbi Steve Folberg of Congregation Beth Israel said of the fundraiser, "These bulbs last for more than five years and use 25% of the electricity of conventional bulbs. In addition, less electricity use means less sulfur, particulate matter, mercury, and global warming pollution in our atmosphere. [Using CFLs] is a way to show our love for God by protecting what God has created." This fundraiser has generated so much
interested that the congregation has ordered $1000 of merchandise and
will sell it at their Judaica store.

The United Methodist Women of Trinity United Methodist Church in
Arlington
also participated in a Bright Ideas fundraiser. After
hearing about Texas Interfaith Power and Light at the UMW Legislative
Event
, the women were inspired to take action on environmental
issues. To kick-off the fundraiser, the women brought in a speaker to
talk about environmental action; provided informational pamphlets about
xeriscaping, water conservation, and energy savings; and convinced
Wal-Mart to donate cloth bags for grocery shopping. The UMWs are
excited to continue their efforts in environmental stewardship.

Texas Interfaith Power and Light would like to applaud these
congregations for all the extraordinary effort that its members give to
make their congregations greener. Thank you!

If you have any
questions about Texas Interfaith Power and Light, Bright Ideas
fundraiser, or renewable energy, please contact us at outreach@texasimpact.org or call us at 512-472-3903.

Faith and the Environment

Bee Moorhead recently wrote a guest column for the Waco Triubne-Herald about steps that faith communities in Texas are taking to respond to global warming. She highlights the outstanding work of several Texas Impact and Texas Interfaith Power and Light member congregations. To read the full article, click here.

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