Posts by The Rev. Dr. Joanne Whitt

March 28

Week 4: Reducing waste and pollution

Swear off bottled water for good.  Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.  And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes. Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3 Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year.  However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year.  Marin’s water meets and exceeds state water quality standards and is safer than bottled water as a general rule.

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March 27

Week 4: Reducing waste and pollution

Minimize packaging.  Any time we must buy something, we can reduce our environmental impact by selecting an item with the least amount of packaging possible.  When packaging cannot be avoided, seek items with recyclable, biodegradable or reusable packaging.

* Meatless Monday for those who committed to the Meatless Monday practice.

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Fear No Evil

Lessons: 1 John 4:16b-21; Psalm 23

Last Wednesday we learned of a terrorist attack outside London’s Parliament.[i] In response, British Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a stirring address to Parliament, which began, “Mr. Speaker, yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy. But today we meet as normal – as generations have done before us, and as future generations will continue to do – to deliver a simple message: we are not afraid.”[ii]

“We are not afraid.” “I will fear no evil.” I don’t know about you, but I long for these words to be true for me. Sometimes they are true. Other times they are a hope. I’m not saying I wish I were never, ever afraid. Fear is a necessary part of being human. There really is such a thing as healthy fear, as every parent of a teenager wishes kids would remember. Fear helps keep us safe, and we are hard-wired for self-preservation.[iii] Fear can even be a powerfully creative force. If people didn’t fear the dark, they’d never have invented the electric light bulb.

But fear can also be unhealthy and unreasonable. Sigmund Freud said it’s reasonable for a person to be afraid of snakes in the heart of the jungle, but it’s not reasonable to be afraid of snakes under the carpet in your apartment in the city.[iv] Unhealthy fears control and consume us. Fear can paralyze us and rob us of joy. Fear can make us hide our true selves and live a diminished life. Fear can also cause us to try to control or dominate others, develop hatreds and prejudices, build up armies, start wars, commit acts of terrorism, and fail to stand up for what we know is right. Rather than preserve us, these fears poison us. Read more →

March 26

Week 4:  Reducing Waste and Pollution

Intentionally reduce your food waste.  Forty percent of food in America is wasted.  Each of us tosses out nearly 300 pounds of food a year.  A 4-person family loses $1500 a year on wasted food. Saving that would basically be a raise.  Food is the number one thing in America’s landfills, and it contributes more to climate pollution than all of the cars in Georgia.  As savethefood.com puts it, wasting food wastes everything: Water.  Fuel.  Labor.  Money.  Love.

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March 25

Week 3: Use of energy

Advocate for clean alternatives to fossil fuels, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and appropriately designed hydroelectric and biomass energy projects.

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March 24

Week 3: Use of energy

Reduce your consumption of beef and dairy.  Cut the beef and dairy. It takes a lot of resources to raise cows, and it’s especially bad if you buy beef from somewhere like Brazil, where it was grazed on land that used to be tropical forest but was cleared for agricultural use. Deforestation is a top contributor to carbon emissions and thus climate change.

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March 23

Week 3: Use of energy

Have your heating ducts checked and/or cleaned.  Heating accounts for 34% of all annual utility usage and is part of what makes an average home twice the emitter of carbon dioxide emissions as a vehicle.  To ensure that as much warm air as possible is delivered through your central system, check the ductwork and wrap any leaks with duct mastic. Distribution losses (what’s lost while air is transported from your furnace through ductwork to the vents) often amounts to 30%. So, sealing ductwork could increase efficiency and the warm air you receive considerably … keeping you warmer and making your furnace work less.

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March 22

Week 3: Use of energy

Run your dishwasher without the “drying cycle” and just let dishes drip dry.

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March 21

Week 3: Use of energy

Set your water heater to a lower setting or call a service person to adjust it for you.  Put an appropriate insulation blanket around your water heater.

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March 20

Week 3: Use of energy

Do you really need half a dozen glowing digital clocks?  Many idle electronics—TVs, DVD players, stereos, microwaves—use energy even when switched off to keep display clocks lit and remote controls working.  Switch off power strips and unplug electrical devices when you’re not using them.

* Meatless Monday for those who committed to the Meatless Monday practice.

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