Our first step was to start using Equal Exchange coffee in our kitchen. We also offer coffee, chocolate, and other EE products to the congregation for sale once or twice a year. We focus these sales on awareness more than fundraising, but do make a little money to help defray the costs of kitchen coffee. We want members to understand that fair trade coffee and chocolate represents fairness to farmers, and thinking about the farmer makes it worth the extra money. Plus, a portion of the sales supports Week of Compassion, a program very important to our congregation.
We also began collecting used inkjet cartridges a few years ago. We recycle these through an organization that pays us. We use this money to purchase eco-friendly hot and cold cups and plates for the church kitchen. We don't make enough to totally underwrite the costs of these products, but it helps out a little, and encourages recycling. We do have a small line item in our budget for purchasing cups, plates, and coffee.
We have had eco fairs a couple of times on the church lawn for the community, highlighting ways to recycle in the community as well as local businesses who recycle. More recently, we've had eco fairs inside the church, to highlight both the Equal Exchange products and other products that members can purchase that are more environmentally friendly than others.
We have paper recycling bins at the back of the sanctuary as well as other places throughout our buildings to encourage people to recycle their worship bulletins. We recycle the paper through a local Boy Scout troop.
Articles in our church newsletter, and now short notes in our weekly bulletins, encourage members to make eco-friendly choices each day.
Our recent formal commitment, as a Green team, of signing the Alverna Covenant was the last step in our process of becoming a Green Chalice congregation. Our new Transitional Minister Rev. Rick Butler included references to the Alverna Covenant and Equal Exchange in a recent sermon. His sermon reminded us that we needed to make official what we've been doing for several years. The Green Team is hoping our new "official" designation as a Green Chalice congregation will further inspire our members to live more planet-friendly every day, and also inspire other congregations to take this step. We will definitely be looking into the process of becoming a Certified Green Chalice congregation.