In 2022 a task force was formed to begin efforts toward reaccreditation to recommit itself to reducing its carbon footprint through a series of actions and upgrades in its buildings and practices, and working with the community to expand its impact in bringing about a more verdant and just world. Task force members: Jonathan Gourlay, Anne Fischer, Chase Wilson Roeper, Joy Flemming, David Flemming, Eve Cimino, Dwight Schenk, Anne Huberman, Joel Huberman.
About Green Sanctuary at PUUC
The Peterborough Unitarian Universalist congregation achieved Green Sanctuary status from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 2009. This designation signifies that the congregation has undertaken the process of reducing its carbon footprint through a series of actions and upgrades in its buildings and practices.
PUUC began the process in 2007 with an energy audit of our physical space. Since that time, under the guidance of the Property Committee, dramatic improvements have been made to our property and with help from other committees have undertaken numerous actions (you can read about the improvements here and the actions here). The improvements were made through grants, donations, a matching fund campaign and from our building fund.
We made practical changes from installing a bike rack and replacing incandescent light bulbs with efficient compact fluorescents to converting our oil burner to a pellet stove. We improved insulation in the Parish Hall, installed programmable thermostats, installed customized storm windows on our sanctuary’s large windows and conducted “green living” classes, instituting recycling in our buildings and church office. You can read a complete list of these at the previous link.
In addition, the Board adopted a set of green policies for purchasing, recycling, heat and energy use and property maintenance and modifications that extend to the many groups that use our facility (you can read about the policies here).
To keep our green practices front of mind for our members, once a month our weekly Social Justice Candle was dedicated to Greening topics, such as promoting the use of glasses, china and silverware for all church events and in our personal lives, and advocating for recycling, local food, and green purchasing. Equal Exchange coffee, tea and chocolate continue to be served during Community Hour (when we have Community Hour again) and are available for purchase in the Administrator's office in Carll House.
Green Sanctuary 2030 (and beyond)
Our recommitment to environmental sustainability charges us to not just continue these previous practices but to find new ways to live lightly on the Earth. According to the UUA, climate change is an existential threat to the human species and the web of life and “is the urgent, overarching survival and justice issue of our time, calling us to impactful action now.”
Toward that end, the green sanctuary committee is undertaking new projects in environmental justice/climate justice, worship and celebration, religious education, and sustainable living.
One of the projects will focus on reducing plastics in our lives: There are no two ways about it, plastic is the most problematic consumer substance known to man. While almost 30 percent of plastic waste is recycled in the U.S. (less than 10 percent worldwide) the uncertainty of the market and the polluting nature of its production, much less the recycling costs of a substance better left to healthcare and high technology use, consumer use of plastics must end. The balance of life on our universe’s green jewel depends on it.
For more ideas and good information, check out these additional websites:
A useful resource on environmentally friendly products and procedures http://www.greenyour.com .
A page about using less-toxic cleaning alternatives https://zerowastemarin.org/
More information on plastics and recycling: earthday.org