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

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.

Spotlight on Friends Meeting of Austin

When Friends Meeting of Austin purchased the house of worship formerly occupied by St. James Episcopal Church in East Austin, they saw an opportunity to go green in a big way. For the sixty-year old congregation, becoming more energy efficient and environmentally conscious was simply an act of faith.

Since they moved to their new building in 2007, Friends Meeting of Austin (FMA) has taken numerous steps to ensure that they are a more energy efficient congregation. Most prominent is the 20 kilowatt solar system that was installed on the congregation's three buildings. FMA got help from the City of Austin's rebate program to cover the cost of installation, and believe that the solar panels will pay for themselves in less than 20 years. The Friends Meeting of Austin agrees that this step was a great investment and important step in becoming greener.

Furthermore, FMA has made several other improvements to their building to become more energy efficient. From tearing down paneling so they can better insulate the building, to tearing up the front lawn to find and fix a very leaky pipe, the Austin Friends have done it all.

Although FMA has received the most attention for their major solar project and large-scale efficiency upgrades, member Belle Zars thinks it’s all the "little things" that add up to make the most difference. FMA has taken on many energy projects that require little more than a change in mindset. This includes keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees when the building is in use (and turning it off otherwise), only using the main building when necessary, recycling and reducing trash, and limiting mowing and watering of the three-acre grounds. Bike racks have also been installed and members are encouraged to ride the bus or carpool to meeting.

Texas Interfaith Power and Light applauds Friends Meeting of Austin for all the extraordinary effort that its members give to make their congregation greener. Thank you!

And what about St. James Episcopal Church? They’ve moved into new digs and accomplished a number of impressive green initiatives of their own. Look for a feature on them coming soon!

Cool Cities Comes to the Houston Area!

Join the
Gulf Coast Cool Cities Campaign!

Team Formation Meetings in Greater Houston Area

Sierra Club and Texas Interfaith Power & Light are getting more cities on board the Cool Cities train!
We are expanding the Cool Cities campaign and forming teams in suburbs all around the Houston area. Be part of this positive, solutions-oriented campaign! Each team's charge is to ask its mayor to address global warming by embracing energy efficiency at the local level. This is an excellent first-time volunteer opportunity that has a specific objective and a limited time commitment.
You do not have to be a member of either organization to participate. No previous experience is necessary. We'll teach you everything you need to know.
RSVP is appreciated but not required. Contact Ann Drumm,
anndrumm@swbell.net, 214-350-6108 or 214-675-0040 (cell).

 

Read More

Global Warming: Twenty Years Later

During a speech yesterday in Washington that commemorated the 20 years since his declaration to the Senate that global warming had already begun, Jim Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, spoke out about cutting the level of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Hansen argued that in order to stabilize the world's climate, the US must cut carbon dioxide emissions to 350 parts per million. This is 30 percent lower than a Senate bill that calls for a cap at 450 ppm, and lower than our current output of 385 ppm.

"I have greater than 99% confidence—99.9% confidence—that the dangerous level is no higher than 350 ppm, and that means we've already passed it," Hansen said.

Hansen called for a "zero-carbon society" and proposed a plan to limit emissions. Under his plan, oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuels would be taxed at the point of sale. Proceeds would be distributed in dividend payments to individuals, which would encourage the sale of low-carbon cars, among other products.

In response to the recent talk about offshore drilling and expanded American oil production, Hansen was adamant that it is "exactly the wrong thing to do." He said that while short-term gains may be made, they would only continue to damage climate health in the long-term.

"It just extends your addiction slightly and guarantees we'll go past the tipping point of irreversible climate change," he says.

Don't Have a Cow!

Submitted by Guest (not verified) on Mon, 2008-06-16 15:27

CFLCompact Fluorescent Light bulbs, or CFLs, have been touted as a way to greatly reduce our electricity consumption.

Mercury in CFLs vs. Power Plants

There has been concern lately about mercury found in CFLs. While mercury is a concern, it is important to note that by using these bulbs, we are in fact helping to reduce our mercury output.

Currently, the amount of mercury released into our landfills from CFLs is negligible. Because of these bulbs’ long lifespan, only after 2010 will a majority of the CFLs currently in use need to be disposed of. At this time, it is estimated that roughly 80 to 100 million CFLs will be disposed of improperly. This number may sound considerable, but when you do the math, the amount of mercury in this large number of CFLs is only about 500 kilograms, or the

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