Greener Church Group

Greener Church LogoAs Christians we try to care for all people and also look after our world. A Greener Church group was formed in June 2009 and, among other initiatives, has been managing a collection service for spectacles, batteries and other recyclables for church members and the many other users of the premises.

Green Tips have been appearing in the Church’s monthly magazine, the Messenger, since July 2009 to help us be good stewards of God’s world. Some of these tips are reproduced below. More details can be found in the Messenger editions (see dates) themselves.

EATING MEAT: Around a quarter of the Earth’s land is suitable for crops but one third of that is needed to feed the animals we eat and use for milk. Meat demand could double by 2050 and there’s no more land. Animals also emit 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, the same as transport. Eating chicken and pig products is around 3 times less harmful than eating beef or lamb so meat eaters could help by choosing these more and eating fish or vegetarian meals 2 or 3 times a week. October 14

RENEWABLE HEAT?  The government gives cash incentives for households installing solar hot water panels; boilers using ‘biomass’ such as wood pellets; air source and ground source heat pumps. House holders are paid 19.2p, 12.2p, 7.3p and 18.8p respectively for every unit (kilowatt hour) of heat produced for 7 years. June 14


HELP THE NHS. DON’T OVER-ORDER DRUGS: The cost of unused medicines is a big drain on the NHS. Over ordering costs £750,000/year in Solihull, enough for almost 1,000 operations.  It seems some patients over order or don’t tell their doctor when they no longer need their drugs.  May 14

A ‘WEE’ WIN: Nothing need be wasted! Urine is a sterile, rich source of nitrogen and contains both phosphate and potassium – the basic nutrients in fertilizer.   Used fresh but diluted about 8 times it can be sprayed on plants replacing commercial fertilizer.   Used neat it will do wonders for one’s compost.   April 14

MICROWAVE COOKING:  Microwave ovens are energy efficient though not suitable for all foods, eg roasts or pies. Use them for cooking vegetables like cauliflower rather than boiling and for re-heating food instead of using the oven. March 14

DISHWASHERS – READ THE MANUAL!  Most of us are just relieved when a new machine works but the manual may also tell you how to do half loads as well as  the eco and shortened cycle programmes.  Experiment  to find the most frugal programme.  Do the same with your washing machine. November 13

TrolleyABANDONED SHOPPING TROLLEYS: If you come across an abandoned shopping trolley and have an iPhone or Android device, download an app from, use the app to take a photo and forward to Trolleywise. They will find the trolley from your ‘phone position and aim to collect within 48 hours.  October 13

PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC LIGHTS – USE WISELY: If there are breaks in the traffic and it is safe to cross don’t switch on the lights. Every time a vehicle stops unnecessarily it wastes fuel and time and causes pollution. September 13  

MINI GREENHOUSES: Reuse is even better than recycling. Old plastic bottles placed over young plants will help them grow. Old tights are wonderful for tying plants, saplings etc up in the garden. July/August 13

Bug hotel

BUILD A BUG HOTEL! Birds come to a garden for food, especially juicy insects. A few bamboo poles, a rotting tree stump, a pond or a ‘hotel’, as in the picture, will be better than a bird table. June 13

KEEP FIT BY WALKING: Walking is a better exercise than running. One needs to walk for twice as long as running but it requires no special kit and is unlikely to lead to injuries. May 13

graphREADING METERS: Read your electricity and gas meters weekly and use charts to show the results. Having the ‘evidence’ in front of you acts as a check on waste and helps you do better each year. April 13

GROWING VEG: Do you want to grow your own vegetables but don’t have enough garden space? Why not ask an elderly neighbour whose garden is getting too big for them if you could have a plot. Share the produce! March 13

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Using buses reduces fuel use, congestion and pollution. If you find them unreliable or unpleasant to use, complain to Centro. They can’t take action unless they know of the problem. February 13

HOME MADE JAM: Ignore the anti-EU myth that empty jam jars can’t be reused to sell home made jams, chutneys etc. They can. They just need to go through a dishwasher and be properly dried first. December 12

GIFT AID GIFTS: You can help the Heart Foundation and many other charity shops raise more money if you let them claim gift aid on the books, clothes etc you give them. You need to be paying income tax and must give them your name and address. November 12

SCRAP METAL: If you have scrap metal or defunct electrical equipment ‘phone Batchelors (0121 707 4593). They are licensed scrap dealers and will collect. November 12

LEDs: Light Emitting Diodes are coming down in price and increasing in power and are being made with bayonet, large and small screw, and ‘halogen’ fittings. They reach full power immediately, last longer and are about twice as efficient as compact fluorescents. November 12

KETTLES: The most important thing in buying a kettle is to be able to see clearly that you have filled it with just the right amount of water. Then buy an induction heated kettle if possible. Try to switch the kettle off immediately the water boils. All this saves energy and money. October 12

BUY BRITISH BUTTER: One can help Britain’s dairy farmers not just by buying milk but British butter, cheese and cream. All save ‘food’ miles. September 12

Tyre labelTYRES: New tyres have energy ratings for energy efficiency, wet grip and noise. An ‘A’ rated tyre should give you 7.5% more miles/gallon than a ‘G’ rated one. July 12

GARDEN WATERING: You don’t need one huge tank to save winter water for use in dry summers. Instead fill a water butt from a drain pipe and use a pump + hose to fill other water butts at convenient points round the garden. June 12

FOOD LABELLING: Food labelling can confuse. ‘Best before’ indicates quality. Food, eg biscuits will be safe to eat long after that date. ‘Use by’ dates are for safety but contain margins. If in doubt smell and taste like Grandma did. Ignore ‘sell by’ dates. Those are for the shops. April 12

SHOWERS: Do not buy power showers. They can use as much water as a bath. 4-5 litres of water/minute for 4/5 minutes should be more than enough. March 12

RAZOR BLADE BOXES: Razor blades and some other items are nowadays sold in locked, but recyclable, plastic boxes. If you self check out at the supermarket it is easy to forget to get them unlocked before you leave and there is no way to open them without wrecking the box. February 12

FREEZER FOOD: When you want to use something from the freezer, defrost it in the fridge first. It will cool the fridge down and save energy. December 11

RETURN TO SHOP: More and more shops are required or are willing to take back batteries, fluorescent lights, electronic goods and so on. If recycling points are not obvious, ask! December 11

Can flattenerFLATTEN CANS: When you recycle cans or plastic containers, flatten them as much as possible. It is a waste of energy when lorries cart around a lot of empty space. November 11

UNWANTED SPECS: Vision Aid gets volunteers in prisons to measure the strength of old spectacle lens before sending them to the poorly sighted in Africa and India. Most opticians will forward your unwanted spectacles if you take them to them. July 11

FUEL EFFICIENT CARS: The world is not short of gas and coal but it is finding it more difficult to obtain the oil we need for our cars. Careful driving increases miles/gallon and comparative figures of miles/gallon can be found at May 11

ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES: TV sets are now graded for energy efficiency using the 7 colour A-G labels, and washing machines, fridge freezers and dishwashers now have 3 additional grades, A+++, A++ and A+.  An A+++ fridge freezer will be 60% more efficient than an A. April 11

FOOD IN DUSTBINS: Keep as much food and garden material as possible out of your dustbins. Any going to a tip will decompose and release methane which, if it leaks away, will be 20 times as bad a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. March 11

LIGHTS OFF: Switch off all lights when not needed. Even fluorescents should be switched off if unneeded for more than 15 minutes. February 11

RECYCLE VIA EBAY: Charity shops will be pleased to receive a whole range of items from usable furniture down. Alternatively use the internet to register on eBay to sell any item, or Freecycle to offer them for free. December 10

BARCODE USES: Barcodes give not only the price but lots of other information on a product which can include the material of the container, eg aluminium, glass etc. This can then be used to separate waste into streams for recycling. It is done in some Canadian stores. It could be done here if the public demanded it. November 10

irrigationBUY BRITISH: There are good environmental reasons for ‘buying British’ as well as helping our trade balance. Much food we import comes from drier countries than ours. These use water for irrigation which can be in short supply. Manufacturing in this country is invariably done with higher standards of pollution control and more energy efficient processes. June 10

INDUCTION HOBS: When you next change your cooker consider an ‘induction’ hob. Induction uses magnetism to ‘induce’ heat. One needs steel or iron based saucepans, not aluminium, glass or ceramic ones but the hob is cool after use (a safety feature) and they save about 20% of the electricity. May 10

CARBON FOOTPRINTS: The average Briton causes 3.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide to be emitted to the atmosphere each year for their gas, electricity and car fuel. To calculate your ‘carbon footprint’ multiply the units of gas and electricity on your bills by 0.19 and 0.58 kg/kWh respectively and your mileage by the emission figures in grams/kilometre for your type of car. March 10

MAINS NOT BATTERIES: Use mains electricity, not non-rechargeable batteries wherever you can. To make a battery takes around 50 times the electricity they actually contain. Rechargeable batteries are more efficient but more toxic. February 10

45 MPH IS BEST: Cars run most frugally at around 45 mph. They are less efficient both above and below those speeds. Short journeys, when the engine is cold, are very inefficient, polluting and expensive. December 2009

CURTAINS: When it is cold draw curtains as soon as it becomes dark. Curtains can be as helpful as double glazing. Cut down drafts as well. October 09

BICKENHILL TIP: An amazing number of different items are now collected at the Council’s Bickenhill recycling site, from old paint and engine oil to timber, electric appliances, fluorescent tubes and more. July 09