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Environmental Practices at First Parish Arlington

Guidelines Created by the Green Sanctuary/Climate Change Task Force

In order to live out the vision of our Green Sanctuary Policy, the Green Sanctuary/Climate Change Task Force has worked with congregational leaders and members to create this set of Environmental Practices at First Parish Arlington.

The document includes sections on:

  • The Church Office
  • The Property Committee
  • Religious Education
  • Members of the congregation
  • Congregational leaders
  • Committee leaders
  • People serving food
  • The Green Sanctuary/Climate Change Task Force
  • Building users and tenants

We know there will be revised versions of this document in the future as we learn from our experiences, get new insights, and benefit from new technologies.

We welcome suggestions from all members of the congregation about how we might best live out our Green Sanctuary Policy.

By Staff/the Church Office

Take environmental considerations into account in purchasing decisions:

  • Purchase recycled products when they meet our price, quality, and availability standards. This includes copy paper, paper towels, toilet paper, paper napkins, etc.
  • Consider getting paper towel rolls with sheets that are half the standard size.
  • Purchase paper without chlorine bleach.
  • Preferentially purchase pastel colored papers rather than brightly colored papers.
  • Purchase low-phosphate and low-toxicity cleaning supplies that are not petroleum based.
  • Purchase cleaning products and polishes that do not contain chlorine or ammonia.
  • Purchase products that do not contain triclosan.
  • Purchase unbleached coffee filters to avoid dioxin.
  • Purchase organic sugar.

Be mindful about paper use:

  • Make sure that all staff has access to double-sided printers. Photocopy documents double-sided when appropriate.
  • Print or photocopy only the number of copies of documents that are needed.
  • For purposes of cost, use white paper instead of colored paper (twice the cost of white paper). Use pastel paper rather than brightly colored paper (three times the cost of white paper).

Educate lay people and building users:

  • Put a note on the photocopier asking people to print no more copies than they need, to print double sided when they can, and to turn off the photocopier overnight when there is no one in the building.
  • Distribute to tenants and building users an information sheet that contains information about recycling, turning off lights and fans, how to unlock exterior doors rather than leaving them propped open, etc.

Purchase another big recycling tub, since the one in the copy room is often full to overflowing.
Recycle old computer equipment with companies that practice clean recycling.
Practice energy conservation through daily practices.
Turn off personal lights and personal computer when you leave for the day:

  • Turn off office computers and the photocopier at the end of the workday.
  • Keep lights off in spaces that are not in use and/or receive ample natural light (e.g., the vestry).
  • Turn off lights in the areas behind the sanctuary when they are not in use (the fan room stairwell, sexton’s room, choir room, green room, and associated hallways).
  • Use a personal electric space heater only if you need it at that time. Please turn off a personal electric space heater when you are not at your desk.
  • Close office curtains at night.
  • During hot summer weather, close the Venetian blinds and curtains in the sanctuary and vestry/community room.

The Sextons
Collect compact fluorescent bulbs for recycling.

Use cleaning supplies purchased by the office.

Use the dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes as much as possible. The dishwasher is more energy efficient and actually sanitizes the dishes.

By the Property Committee

Members of the Property Committee make environmental issues an important priority along with value, quality, durability, maintenance needs, and building aesthetics.

Note: CP means current practice as of 3-1-11.

Committee members pursue energy-efficiency/cost-reduction goals. (CP)

Committee members turn off the boiler as soon as the heating season is over. (CP)

Committee members change the temperature of the water in the boiler in different seasons: higher in the winter and less high in the spring and fall. (CP)

Committee members use low-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paint. (CP)

The committee has installed compact fluorescent lights in almost all locations where they can be used. (CP)

Members of the committee return used compact fluorescent lights to a local hardware store for recycling. (CP)

Committee members do not use artificial fertilizers and use a minimum of herbicides on the grounds. (CP)

Committee members remove invasive plant species. (CP)

When adding plantings to the grounds, committee members select plants that enhance the local habitats of insects and birds. (CP)

Committee members minimize water use on the grounds. (CP)

Committee members compost some but not all yard waste. (CP)

Pest control companies are asked to apply poisons only when we are having an outbreak of a particular species, not all the time. (CP)

Put notes near light switches in highly used areas and in infrequently used areas (the sexton’s rooms, fan room stairwell, choir room and associated hallways) asking people to turn off lights when not in use.

Promptly fix dripping faucets, running toilets, and leaks in the dishwasher.

Keep door hinges, door closers, and weather stripping in good condition.

Control the heating system in a fuel and cost efficient way. When possible, update controls using modern technology.

Continue to refine effective target temperatures for the sanctuary, vestry, parlor, office spaces, and religious education spaces when they are in use and when they are not occupied spaces.

Continue to locate remaining incandescent bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescent lights when possible and LEDs when available.

Replace inefficient appliances with Energy Star models.

Consider replacing bathroom fixtures, especially the urinal, to reduce water flow.

When adding plantings to the grounds, consider native plants.

Compost as much yard waste as possible.

By the Religious Education Program

Take environmental considerations into account when designng and purchasing materials for art projects.
Use white paper instead of colored paper. Use pastel paper rather than brightly colored paper.

Re-use and recycle surplus materials.

Take a mindful approach to what the children eat on Sunday morning and at other congregational activities.

Put curriculum resources online for teachers to use so as to cut down on the use of paper.

Limit the number of copies printed to the number of students in the class.

Make use of class time, Sunday services, Earth Day, and stand alone Sundays for education on environmental issues and climate change.

Help students understand the spiritual dimension of our relationship with the natural world.
Use sound environmental practices when providing upkeep, maintaining, or refurbishing religious education space.

By Members of the Congregation Generally

Recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass, and plastic. Be aware that the most important material to recycle is aluminum. Empty liquids from all bottles before recycling.

Ensure that exterior doors remain closed during the heating season and fully close exterior doors after you pass through them.

Whenever possible, walk, bike, and take the bus or car pool to church events.

Turn off lights in areas that are not in use.

Follow building use guidelines when using the building for programs or social functions.

By Committee Chairs & Other Lay Leaders

Ensure that exterior doors remain closed during the heating season, and fully close exterior doors after you pass through them.

Turn off lights and fans when leaving a room or the building.

Print copies double-sided when appropriate.

Reduce paper use. Print or photocopy only the number of copies of documents that are needed.

Ask meeting participants to share an agenda sheet or other handouts when appropriate.

Format documents to reduce paper use. Use reasonable margins and reasonable line spacing.

For purposes of cost, use white paper instead of colored paper (twice the cost of white paper). Use pastel paper rather than brightly colored paper (three times the cost of white paper).

Distribute information electronically rather than on paper when appropriate.

Ushers are encouraged to turn off fans and lights after Sunday services.

By People Serving Food
We purchase organic, shade-grown, fair trade coffee from Equal Exchange.

Avoid using disposable paper or plastic cups, plates, bowls, forks, knives and spoons. Use glass, china, and silverware that can be run through the dishwasher unless the size or location of the event precludes this.

Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing whenever possible. The dishwasher is more energy efficient and actually sterilizes the dishes.

Take environmental considerations into account when preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals.

We encourage people to include more plant-centered foods and to reduce the amount of meat used. We encourage people to purchase food from local growers who are using sustainable farming methods whenever possible. Such foods can be purchased at Harvest Food in Cambridge year round, and the Arlington Farmer’s market from June through October. Costco does not sell locally grown food, but it has a good selection of organic foods at reasonable prices.

We encourage the use of organic foods (without pesticides) since they are healthier than non-organic.

Please limit the inclusion of processed and highly packaged foods.

Please compost vegetable waste after food events.

Please take left-over food home or give it to people who will use it.

Please use tap water instead of bottled water so as to cut down on the amount of plastic.

Recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass, and plastic. Be aware that the most important material to recycle is aluminum. Please empty liquids from all bottles before recycling.

For further information about these recommendations please talk with a member of the Green Sanctuary/Climate Change Task Force

By the Green Sanctuary/Climate Change Task Force

Create procedures for informing congregation members about greening activities in the church, eco-lifestyle tips, and pending environmental legislation.

Develop environmental curriculum resources for adults and children.

Encourage members to walk, bike, take the bus, or car pool to church events.

Monitor trash pick ups to make sure our material in blue bins is actually recycled and not trashed.

Research purchasing options and share the results with the office staff, but let the office staff make purchasing decisions.

Research options for locally grown and plant based foods.

Work with floral suppliers to take environmental issues into concern when making floral arrangements.

By Building Users/Tenants

Turn off lights and fans when leaving a room or the building.

Ensure that exterior doors remain closed during the heating season and fully close exterior doors after you pass through them.

Recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass, and plastic. Be aware that the most important material to recycle is aluminum. Empty liquids from all bottles before recycling.

Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing as much as possible. The dishwasher is more energy efficient and actually sterilizes the dishes.

—Revised by the Green Sanctuary/Climate Change Task Force December 19, 2011

630 MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE   ♦   ARLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02476   ♦   781-648-3799

Copyright 2017 First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington

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