Environmental Stewardship

The Environmental Stewardship Work Area helps us become responsible stewards of God's creation, and care for humankind. We

  • Provide environmental education
  • Encourage individual and corporate green living habits
  • Help the church take steps to make our facilities more energy efficient and earth friendly
  • Provide avenues for environmental social action

Adopt-a-Stream Annual Clean-Up

The Downers Grove First United Methodist Church has adopted a section of St. Joseph Creek located north of Curtiss Street and east of Walnut Avenue about two miles west of our church property. On Saturday, May 21, we’ll gather to clean up the creek by picking up trash along the banks. Please mark your calendar to come and volunteer!

The Adopt-a-Stream program is administered by DuPage County in partnership with The Conservation Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving natural areas and rivers and promoting stewardship of the environment. The May 21 clean-up day will be part of their annual DuPage River Sweep. 

The only things you’ll need to bring are waterproof boots (or shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy) and work gloves if you have them. Tools, water and snacks will be provided. This is a great activity for kids to participate in with a parent or guardian.

Sign-up sheets are located on the bulletin board in the narthex, or you can email Vera Miller at VeraMiller83@gmail.com to RSVP.

Saturday, May 21, 2016 - 9:00am to 12:00pm

Benefits of Recycling

According to the E.P.A., Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is very beneficial to our environment. Some of the benefits include saving energy, saving money, reducing the amount of waste sent to our landfills, and allowing products to be used to their fullest extent.

What you may be surprised to learn is that items such as pencils, counter-tops, bicycles, cookware, jackets, carpeting, bridges, and textiles can be made from recycled items.

Ever wonder what happens to your recycled items after they are picked up by the waste management company? Go to www.countyofkane.org and then click on the Recycling tab under the Featured Links heading. Then you need to click once more on the link titled “What Happens to your Recycling after it is picked up?” Here there is a 13 ½ minute video, that explains the process. You can go directly to this video by copying the following web address into your web browser. http://www.countyofkane.org/Pages/commDisp.aspx?focusID=88

Using reusable shopping bags makes a difference too – and – can save you a little bit of money. Stores including Ultra Food and Target will give you 5 cents when you use a reusable bag. If a store you shop at frequently does not offer this service, suggest it to the manager.

Recycling makes a difference. If you need assistance finding a place to take your recyclable items visit www.earth911.org

Your participation in Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, makes a difference!

Recycle Reminders – Recycle Responsibly

See the document below for some important Recycling Reminders!

Environmental Stewardship Energy Saving Seminar

The Environmental Stewardship Work Area invites you to come and hear about Family Actions at Home: A Challenge for Us to Save Energy. Learn how to keep bills in check and increase home comfort, new smart grid updates, how to use new smart meters to lower costs, how to use a Kill-a-Watt meter to measure energy and an Energy Bike. 

This seminar will be presented by local non-profit group SCARCE. The mission of SCARCE, School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education, is to inspire people, through education, to preserve & care for the Earth's natural resources, while working to build sustainable communities.

Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 11:15pm

Using Local Produce - Recipes

Summertime! How fortunate we are to enjoy the blessings from our Creator during the days of blue skies, rainbow-colored flowers and garden=fresh vegetables. Whether from our own back yards or from a local farmer’s market, the bounty of organic produce available gives us grateful hearts. When that zucchini comes in, though, Yikes! If you aren’t one to leave it on your neighbor’s doorstep, here’s a healthy cool soup to try yourself.

Chilled Zucchini and Avocado Soup Serves 2-4

4 small or 2 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped 2 avocados, peeled, coarsely chopped

3 green onions or scallions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

½ tsp. Chili powder

½ tsp. coriander seeds, crushed

1 cup plain yogurt Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put first six ingredients in to a food processor and processor until smoothly combined.   Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, then stir in the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto

2 pre-roasted tomatoes or 1 large fresh tomato

2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

3 Tbls. Pine nuts

2 Tbls. Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup whole basil leaves

½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbls. Soft butter Salt and Pepper

Combine first 6 ingredients in blender and process until just combined.  Add basil to small amounts until all is combined. Stir in Parmesan cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Good on pizza, roasted vegetables, or an omelet. Variation: use cilantro instead of basil.

From “Farmer John’s Cookbook”

Advantages for purchasing local produce are it: tastes better, retains its nutrients longer, preserves genetic diversity, is not genetically modified seed, supports local farm families, builds community, preserves open farm space, helps keep lower taxes, supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife, and helps ensure that there will be community farms tomorrow. Don’t forget to look at dgfumc.org/green and scroll down until you see the current month to find out local produce in season that month.

How to Recycle Alkaline Batteries

Remote controls, radios, clocks, children toys and now even in touchless faucets and keyboards; alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D) have been and will continue to be commonplace in our society. The next time you’re using your remote control to change the channel, stop and think a little about how these batteries work. Using metals and chemical reactions, batteries convert chemical energy to electrical energy to provide power to our electronic devices. But where do these chemicals and metals come from? Where will they go when you’re done with them?

Metals used in batteries are mined from the earth, with steel and zinc being the main metallic components of alkaline batteries. In 1996 the Mercury Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act passed in the United States that phased out the use of mercury in alkaline batteries. With this and other developments over the past few decades, proven cost effective and environmentally safe recycling processes are not yet universally available for alkaline batteries. Except in the state of California, alkaline batteries are currently considered “safe” for general refuse and can go directly from your trash can to a landfill. Many of us take advantage of this and dispose of our A, AA, C, and D batteries from devices around our house routinely in the trash can.

The next time you go to dispose of an alkaline battery in the trash can, please think of this: alkaline batteries account for 80% of the manufacturer batteries in the US and over 10 billion individual units produced worldwide. Add up the disposal of all of these batteries to our landfills over the years and think of the natural resources (steel, zinc, etc.) that can be saved. Think of the potential unreacted chemicals being put into our landfills, into the ground, and into our waterways.

All of this got me thinking: what can I do to make a difference? I noticed my work had recycling options for many battery types, such as batteries used in cell phones or laptops, but not for alkaline batteries. Due to this, a few years ago I started collecting the alkaline batteries my co-workers and I used at work and the batteries my family used at home. As my battery stockpile exceeded a few hundred I searched for places to take these batteries to for recycling and kept getting the same answer: “You can just put those in the trash”. Recently, I found what I was looking for: The Naperville household hazardous waste drop-off facility is a regional drop off location approved by the IEPA and DuPage County for many hazardous materials, including alkaline batteries. It is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9am-2pm, excluding holidays. http://www.naperville.il.us/hhw.aspx

Consider collecting alkaline batteries at your house, along with other hazardous items, to take to this facility for recycling or see if the hazardous waste drop off area in your village will take alkaline batteries. Every little bit each of us can do will make a difference!

United Methodist Church Earth Day Video

In recognition of Earth Day, the United Methodist Church has produced a video featuring stunning images of Nature along with the beautiful words of a prayer written by United Methodist Bishop Ken Carter when he was a pastor in North Carolina in 2005.

You are encouraged to use this video for personal reflection. To view, visit The United Methodist Church website

Composting? Really?

Q: Why would I want to Compose?

A: There are many good reasons to start composting. It is very beneficial from an agricultural and environmental standpoint. Most significant benefits are:

  1. Improves soil structure, benefits root growth and water retention.
  2. Provides a source of slow-release organic fertilizer for your plants, helps fight diseases.
  3. Reduces 20-40% of the waste that ends up in the landfill. This ALONE is a fantastic reason for composting - why would you throw this organic material in a landfill?
  4. It’s fun and satisfying to know you’re doing your part to conserve earth’s resources

Q: I want to compost, but is it hard and how would I get started?

A: It’s really quite easy and it won’t take you a lot of time to get started. You’ll need a compost bin or an area in your yard for a compost heap, ideally in a sunny or partly sunny spot. You want it easily accessible all year long.

Q: OK, so what do I put in the compost bin?

A: The two main categories of ingredients are “greens and browns.” You will need both of these materials plus water to make compost.

  • Green - Vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds/filters, tea leaves/bags, garden waste, fresh weeds without seeds, fresh grass clippings.
  • Brown - Dry leaves, dry straw and hay, sawdust, woodchips from untreated wood, twigs, dried grass clippings, shredded paper, napkins, newspaper (no petroleum ink, Soy ink is OK)
  • Other - Eggshells (crushed), plain rice, bread, hair, wool, cotton, lint
  • Do not compost - Meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, grease, bones, pet and human waste, glass, plastic/petroleum products, metals, synthetic materials, large branches and wood chunks, wood ashes, lime

Q: Is that all I need to know to get started?

A: A few other things you need to know about the food you feed your compost:

  • Start your pile with a generous layer of browns on the bottom.
  • Alternate the layers of greens and browns: 2 parts green and 1 part brown material.
  • The smaller the material the faster it will break down.
  • If you don’t have leaves you can use sawdust, straw or even shredded newspaper for browns.
  • Add water and turn the materials periodically. Moisture and oxygen are required components in composting. You can use a pitch fork or place your materials into a tumbler to artificially aid the aeration of your pile. You want to do this about every 3-5 days.
  • You can also add a shovel-full of soil at any stage. This will introduce soil organisms into your pile or bin and will act as an accelerator.

Q: Is it Finished Yet?

A: The composting process can take anywhere from 3 – 8 months depending on the mix of materials, moisture and air. Generally, it is ready to use when it is dark brown, smells like earth and crumbles in your hand.

Q: Where can I find more information?

A: Types of bins: http://greenactioncentre.ca/content/compost-bin-options/

How to Compost Video: http://greenactioncentre.ca/content/how-to-compost-video/

Composting basics: http://www.compostguy.com/composting-basics/#getting-started

Composting basics: http://www.howtocompost.org/info/info_composting.asp

Celebrate Earth Day - Oak Trees Available

Sunday Morning, April 26
Parking Lot

In honor of Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 24), the Environmental Stewardship Work Area is giving away oak trees after each service. The trees will be given out by the entrance adjacent to the parking lot.

1. Soak the tree in water ONE day before planting. 
2. Make sure the area is clear from power lines, other trees, buildings and anything else within 30 feet. 
3. Dig a hole, at least 2 times the width of the root system and turn the soil up to 3 feet in diameter around the tree hole.
4. Place the tree in the hole, with the top of the roots just under the soil line.
5. Partially fill the hole with dirt, firm the soil around the lower roots making sure not to break them.
6. Use water to help reduce air pockets.  Then fill the rest of the hole up.
7. Water the tree and entire planting area with plenty of water. 
8. Place mulch around the tree within 1” of touching the tree.
9. Water your newly planted tree every 7-10 days during the first year.
10. Enjoy your new Oak tree!

The Tiny Home Movement

The Tiny Home Movement – Is Your McMansion Worth it?
While I think it’s unlikely that many of our members are in the market for a Tiny Home – generally agreed to be a residence of 400 ft2 or less – I do think that many of us are considering whether we could at least downsize, simplify and lead lives more aligned with a reduced carbon footprint and respect for the finite nature of water, building materials, energy as well as the impact of our consumption on so many species on our planet. In fact, our buildings in the US contribute nearly 40% of our carbon dioxide output.

Most of us spend 1/3 to ½ of our total income on our homes, with 76% of us living paycheck to paycheck…mostly to meet that burden. Consider that for a moment. It’s a good exercise to look at your monthly expenses and make the connection between them and the roof over our head. Our mortgage is just the beginning. Consider taxes, energy, maintenance, major appliances, insurance, and on and on. It’s estimated that the cost of a $290,000 home over the life of a 30-year mortgage is over $1M! It’s the biggest drain on our pocketbooks of all of life’s expenses short of, perhaps, a catastrophic health challenge, and it doesn’t just impact our financial well-being. Who hasn’t lost sleep considering the burden of a 30-year mortgage? With the recession of 2008 and the major disruption in the residential housing market, many homeowners are continuing to climb out of the devaluation of our primary residences (and only for most of us). And an equal number are considering whether our overly-large homes by most standards are worth that financial – and mental/emotional – burden.

Tiny Homes – by the numbers!
• Only 29% of traditional homeowners are mortgage free vs. 68% of tiny homeowners
• Avg. cost to build a tiny home is $23k vs. hundreds of thousands for a traditional home
• 65% of tiny homeowners have NO credit card debt
• Avg. monthly utilities cost for an avg. home is over $160 vs. $10-40 for a tiny homeowner
• Financial stress is a major contributor to many chronic health conditions – our home is our largest financial burden

Consider Some Practical Downsizing

As I noted, most of us aren’t likely to downsize to a Tiny Home anytime soon, or ever, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider downsizing at all. If you’re considering a change in space, consider making a conscious choice to downsize as dramatically as you are able – the planet will thank you…and you may just sleep better.


Copyright © 2018 First United Methodist Church, Downers Grove. Please report any problems to webmaster@dgfumc.org.