Community Life

Introduction

 

Getting Started

 

Food

 

Paper

 

Recycling and Waste

 

Water Use

 

Cleaning Supplies
Community Life

 



Introduction:

 

  • The Green Seminary Initiative encourages the staff, faculty, and students at theological schools to adopt green practices within the community and in their own personal lives. Many of the aspects of earth care are reflected in how we live in community. The decisions we make every day in how we use water, how we eat, how we manage material goods and paper all affect the health of the planet. Furthermore, our communal and personal lifestyles have a significant impact on all of earth’s creatures, human and non-human. 

 

top

 

Getting Started

  • Prepare a community-wide compact or covenant to live in a manner that puts the least amount of burden on the earth. Develop a Covenant with Creation which would include both communal and personal commitments. Have a special worship service to present this covenant.  Post it publicly. Introduce it at student and faculty orientation.

  • Find ways to be with the natural world. Schedule hikes on/near campus or hold “sidewalk safaris.” Use the grounds for times of spiritual growth and respite. Go outside for class and meetings. Plan trips to a local arboretum, gardens, or lake/river area.

  • Find ways to be engaged with, and see yourselves as part of, the local ecosystem. Identify and understand your local ecosystem and your impact on it. Learn what grows and lives in your “neighborhood.” Get to know your neighbors – human and non-human. Where feasible, procure the services of a naturalist.

  • Understand the impacts of communal and personal actions on the earth’s creatures – human and non-human – in your ecosystem. Know whom your actions affect and who are most apt to bear a disproportionate burden.

  • Establish earth-friendly practices in campus housing. Living in a dorm or campus apartment sometimes separates us from the earth and our impacts upon it. Check out the “Greening Your Apartment” brochure created by Web of Creation.

  • Offer training. Hold brief training sessions for students (at orientation), for faculty (within regular faculty meetings), and for staff (at regular staff meetings) as a means to encourage people to understand and participate in the covenant.

  • Form support/interest groups. Students often form together in small groups around a shared interest or commitment. Support for environmental practices and disciplines can serve as a focus for groups that form. For example, groups that meet around a meal could learn about humane food practices, and adopt disciplines related to eating. Or, groups could form based on interest in alternative transportation. 

  • Group Study. Foster the formation of groups around an educational course on Simple Living or the Ecology of Food. Consider the educational materials for small groups available from the Northwest Earth Institute or offer a study/support group using the book Simple Living, Compassionate Living (a resource from Earth Ministry).

  • Encourage earth-care at home.  Provide resources or an environmental guide for use in the home/apartment to foster earth care around issues such as energy, food, water use, water run-off, lawn maintenance, recycling, composting, and transportation. Theological schools have also benefited from holding training sessions to learn these practices. Check out the “Greening Your Apartment” brochure created by Web of Creation and the “5 Tips for Greening Your Home and Life” at the GreenFaith website.

  • Provide opportunities for community involvement in local earth-related activities. Participate in restoring habitat, clean up a beach, rally for clean air, protest a polluter, or do write-in campaigns for environmental legislation. Cooperate with national/local environmental agencies.

 

top

 

Food

  • Green your cafeteria. Work with the head of the cafeteria to seek ways to purchase organic and/or locally grown food. They are an integral part of your effort to reduce or eliminate the use of Styrofoam and paper products and to increase the availability of meatless meals. See, for example, the innovative work being done at the cafeterias of Yale, Duke, and Drew University.

  • Green your cups, mugs, plates, and eating utensils. Theological schools and universities use extraordinary amounts of disposable cups, cutlery, and plates. Replace disposable items with non-disposable ones.

  • Green your institution’s food purchasing policy. Purchase food for your cafeteria, lunches, community dinners, and other catered events from local producers such as local dairies, local farmers, and food co-ops. Only purchase meats, eggs, and dairy which are hormone free, produced humanely and are organic. Consider using Fair Trade products.

  • Educate those at your school on food and faith issues:The Nation Council of Churches' website offers information on Food, Farming, and Faith.

  • Hazon's website is an up-to-date and comprehensive resource for finding more information about food, Jewish faith, and how to incorporate green food practices into your community's life. "The Jew and the Carrot," an entertaining and informative blog, is another great place to learn about food issues.

 

top

 

Paper

  • Take stock. Do an inventory of paper purchases and seek to purchase recycled/post-consumer waste paper for office use as well as for bathroom use.
  • Analyze the policies and practices that lead to paper waste and work to make improvements (i.e. Are items printed unnecessarily? Can your copy machines print double-sided documents? Are you using paper for internal memos and communications when electronic communication will suffice?).
  • Develop a school-wide paper policy that encourages paperless grading and classes and includes using only recycled paper and printing on two sides.  

 

top

 

Recycling and Waste

  • Recycling is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce waste, keep from filling landfills or burning trash and using less energy and resources. Develop a campus-wide recycling program for paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and any other products. Mark bins clearly and place in public places. Recycle the old-fashioned way – hold a community wide “swap meet,” to eliminate buying things unnecessarily. 

  • Institutionalize it. Implement and encourage campus-wide recycling.

  • Educate others. Educate students, faculty, and staff on correct recycling procedures and emphasize the importance of recycling at events such as student orientation.

  • Analyze and Assess. Conduct waste surveys, competitions, and educational events on a regular basis in order to reduce waste.

  • Compost. Compost organic food waste and use as a fertilizer on campus or in local gardens.

  • You can visit the GreenFaith website for more resources to assist you in reducing and managing waste.

 

top

 

Water Use

  • Get others involved. Encourage faculty, staff and students to reduce water consumption to the extent possible.

  • Promote your work and educate others. Regularly monitor, analyze, and display your school’s water usage. You can raise awareness by making this information available in space frequented by students, staff, and faculty as a means of promoting water conservation.

  • Upgrade your fixtures. Install low-flow toilets, motion sensor faucets, and other water-saving devises.

  • Be mindful of the social-justice issues related to water usage at your institution. Water contamination, unequal access to water, water shortages, floods, changing precipitation patterns, and other water-related social and environmental justice issues should be a central concern.

  • Replace your grass with natural and/or water conserving ground cover. Landscaping, especially the watering of lawns, is one the chief ways in which water is used on most campuses. 

 

The following resources can help you reduce your water use:

  • Check the EPA’s website for ideas on water conservation and maintaining water quality.

  • For a quick and easy way to determine how water is being used and where it is being wasted at your institution, download the Water Use Backgrounder.

  • You can buy EPA approved “WaterSense” labeled products to reduce flow in your bathrooms and plumbing.

  • GreenFaith offers six tips on how to reduce water usage at your institution, church, or seminary.

 

top

 

Cleaning Supplies

  • Purchase green cleaning supplies. Reduce or eliminate toxic products used in the maintenance of buildings (e.g. strong, bleach-based cleaners, phosphate-based detergents, highly astringent floor and bathroom cleaners, etc.). Considering using Green Seal, or other similarly certified green cleaning products and services.
  • Remember the social justice components of your actions. Keep the health of the employees who use these products everyday at the forefront of your planning.

 

For more information on reducing toxics and using green cleaning products, refer to the following resources:

 

top