Eco Church

These are some of the people working on our eco projects

           

St Christopher’s is an Eco Church and we are registered with the Christian environmental scheme for churches run by A Rocha UK.  Eco Church provides tools to help churches and their parishioners weave their response to environmental issues into all they do. We were awarded a Bronze Level Certificate at the end of 2019 and in September 2021 we were awarded the Silver Level Certificate.

In a time of unprecedented environmental stresses, Eco Church enables us to respond to God’s mandate to human beings to care for His creation, by integrating environmental care throughout our church’s life and mission.

The Diocese of Guildford encourages churches to join Eco Church and, together with other churches in our diocese and in the UK as a whole,  really make a difference.

Bronze, silver and gold awards are presented to churches for environmental attainment across a wide range of areas, including care of buildings and churchyards, energy-saving, recycling, food and lifestyle, worship, preaching and teaching, engagement in communities and the wider world.

We are now ready to “Aim for Gold”.   We have to reach a number of goals in five different categories:

  • Worship and Teaching
  • Management of Church Buildings
  • Management of Church Land
  • Community and Global Engagement
  • Lifestyle

What’s new at St Christopher’s?

       

We have built a composter! The first area is to use in year one and then the following year we will move onto the next area. We have also installed a bug hotel.

Eco-Tips

Water Saving – Bath or Shower?

There is nothing wrong with a good long soak in the bath when you really feel like it but taking a quick shower instead of a bath can save up to 45 litres of water.

Water Saving – Use a water-saving device in your toilet cistern

Use a water-saving device in your toilet cistern. Depending on the size of your cistern, you could save between one and three litres each time you flush the toilet.

Water Saving – Full Loads are Best

Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or your dishwasher.

Water Saving – Turn Off Taps

Turning off taps when not in use is a really simple way to save water at home. A running tap can use six litres of water a minute. By turning off the tap just five seconds sooner, you’ll save half a litre! Try not to keep it flowing when you’re doing the washing up or brushing your teeth.

Save Energy During Cleaning

When using a vacuum cleaner, throw out the bags more often, rinse or change the air filters. Additional aerodynamic drag leads to the overheating of the vacuum cleaner motor and a sharp increase in electricity consumption. For example, if the dust collection bag/container is filled up to 30%, the energy consumption increases by 40-50%.

Buy Energy Efficient Home Appliances

If you decide to buy a new electrical appliance choose one that uses the latest energy-saving technology.

All electrical appliances are labelled with letters from A +++ to G. The lowest energy efficiency class are labelled A and B. For example, induction hobs are becoming more and more popular, as they only heat the bottom of the cookware and do not waste energy. Their efficiency reaches 95%!

Water Saving Showerhead Attachment

Incredibly, a typical shower uses about 20 litres of hot water in one minute.

If the pressure is strong, then up to 30 litres of water per minute can be used.

In only 5 minutes under the shower, a person can easily use 100 litres of water.

This is only 100 litres of water, but it also needs to be heated.

https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/electric-showers/article/eco-shower-heads-buying-guide-aklCM9Y5kuG5

Wash with cold water

About 90% of the electricity that a washing machine uses is actually not spent on the “washing” process but on heating cold water.

At the same time, some people do not even think that it is necessary to wash with hot water, only things that are very dirty or to remove stains.

Wash with hot water only when needed. Otherwise, use a cold wash, it has the same effect and saves a lot of energy.

Use the right Bulbs

Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient, LED bulbs. In addition to the economic benefits, these are also eco-friendly alternatives. Incandescent lamps are manufactured from glass, tungsten, and aluminum. They burn out faster, which requires significantly more resources for their production, not to mention the negative impact on the environment and climate.

A few facts about computers

  • It is best to turn off your computer when not in use. Some computers use the same amount of electricity in standby mode as a small refrigerator.
  • If the computer cannot be turned off, you can turn off the monitor and save more than 50% energy.
  • Screen savers do not save energy
  • Set your computer, printer to sleep in 5 minutes after you stop using them. Save approximately 40% energy.

Saving Water

Water seems to be in abundant supply from our taps at the moment but this may not always be the case and it would be good if we could all bear this in mind when using the precious stuff. There are lots of ways in which we can economise in our daily living and which it would be good if we can bear this in mind whenever we turn on a tap.  Here are some suggestions:

Install a water butt in the garden. All that rain which falls on our roofs in such seemingly reckless abundance can be channelled into the butt and then used for watering the garden.  We should hardly ever have to turn on a tap if we do it well, and maybe we could even install more than one butt if we’ve got room.

Never wash anything under a running tap, but see below!.  You’d be amazed how much water is wasted this way.  And while we’re thinking about taps, a friend gave me this tip:  When you’re waiting for the tap to run hot, don’t waste that cold water.  Let it go into a bowl and use it for watering the garden, or some house plants.

Take a shower instead of running a bath.  Showers a much more economical, especially if you don’t stand under them for too long!

I hope this has got you started, and I’m sure you will think of lots more ways of not wasting water!

Reduce, re-use, recycle

Reduce, re-use, recycle. Have you thought what this really means?

To reduce our consumption would, for example, mean to buy less of something, such as clothing. Do I really need that pair of shoes when I’ve got rather more than I need already?

And re-using something – “I’ve got this kitchen gadget which is perfectly serviceable but looks rather tatty and well used.” Why not keep it until it actually dies rather than just throw it away? Or why not buy something from a charity shop instead of buying new? You’re helping the charity as well as the planet.

And recycling – well, we’ve already talked about this a bit, but there are lots of ways of doing this. For example, if you have a garden and there is enough space in it, a compost heap will give you wonderful compost if you’re patient, and at this time of year why not collect all those leaves which blow into the garden and put them into those black plastic bags which you were looking for a home for?

Send an e-card this Christmas

An estimated billion Christmas cards are sent every year in the UK alone. Whilst many cards are recycled after Christmas, many also end up in landfill. This year, think about sending an e-card to those family and friends who are able to access the technology.

At St. Christopher’s we have an online card that anyone can sign to send a greeting to everyone in the Church and wider Church community in an eco-friendly way.

Just follow this link

and add your message by the 20th December. If you would prefer not to do this online, please call or email Liz Hammond (lizhammond2003@gmail.com) with your message and we will ensure it is added to the e-card for you. All who contribute will be emailed or mailed a copy of the card after 20th December.

You may choose to do this instead of, or in addition to, sending a physical card to your particular friends in the St Christopher’s community. Sending a message via our e-card will let you send your Christmas wishes to everyone.

If you have any questions or have any trouble accessing the link please email Julia Bowden (jlvbowden@gmail.com)

Hard to recycle plastic waste

Some of the plastic waste we produce is easy to recycle, like the packaging which has a little triangle imprinted on it, or instructions on it saying things like ‘Please recycle me’.  Other, usually more flimsy plastic is much more difficult and often ends up in the bin. Marks and Spencer are very conscious of the amount of plastic which seems impossible to recycle and have come up with a new scheme to deal with this difficult stuff.

In some of their stores, including the one at Tolworth, they have installed collection points for all sorts of difficult types of plastic where you can take yours and just pop it in the tub (just enlarge the picture to get a better view).  Why not give it a try!!  And yes, it’s as simple as that!  Happy recycling!

Recent Alien Invaders

Over the last fifty years we have been plagued by animals and insects which have damaged the environment by killing off our native mammals and birds.

Imported signal crayfish have virtually wiped out our smaller British crayfish and also wrought damage to river banks. In the seventies beetles with Dutch elm disease were carried in on imported timber and we all know about the misguided animal rights protesters who released caged minks which soon managed to nearly wipe out the water voles (ratty in wind and the willows)

The most recent and also most local is the stink bug.

This was introduced into the USA in the 1990s and from there into Switzerland and then across Europe.

The stink bug is a form of shield bug about 1.7cm long. It is light brown in colour and has pale patches across its body. It also gives off a very unpleasant smell hence its name.

The bug is capable of destroying ornamental plants, fruits and vegetables and other plants in the wild. It has been captured in a pheromone trap at Wisley quite recently and has also been found in Hampshire, Essex and London. It usually arrives in single numbers on luggage and imported goods.

So far no breeding groups have been found but it will only take time to start establishing itself.

If you find one try to capture it and then contact the RHS advice service. It could try to get into your house as it seeks warmth.

rhs.org.uk/myadvice

Waste

We thought that the advent of computers would stop many of us wasting so much paper, but there are lots of ways we are still guilty of this. The word ‘waste paper basket’ speaks volumes when you think about it! Think how much goes into landfill when a lot of it could be recycled.

I seem to get lots of letters and documents only printed on one side. I use the other side to print out things I need to keep, such as notices for church etc. Anything that is going to be put on a noticeboard can be used in this way. Be careful how many copies of a handout you print.

A lot of food is wasted. If there is something left over from a meal, don’t throw it away. Lots of tasty meals can be made from leftovers. Don’t give over large portions, especially to children (ravenous teenagers are something else!) You can always give them a second helping. Make full use of the food waste bins which get collected from outside your house, and if you are lucky enough to have a compost heap do make full use of it, but don’t put in cooked food into either the compost heap or the food waste bin.

Waste Food Alternatives

Most of us in the western world waste a significant proportion of the food we buy. This is a real shame as there are so many ways of using food we are not using.

Apple cores are often thrown away but can also be used to give to ground feeding birds.  Apple, pear and other fruit peelings are a very good source of roughage and be eaten raw or chopped up and put into cakes.

Out of date cereals and dried fruits and  nuts can be made into bird cakes which can also use up fats or oil we want to get rid of (you could also add the fruit peelings to the bird cakes). Old bread can also be used to be the base of a bird feed but try not to use white bread as it is very bad for the bird’s digestion.

Some dog owners feed out of date chocolate to their dogs whether it is in or out date.  Chocolate is extremely bad for nearly all varieties of dogs.

Scraps of leftover meat or rinds are always attractive to foxes, hedgehogs and badgers if you are lucky enough to have them as garden visitors.

It’s easy to use your imaginations for wild animals but we can also look back into the way our ancestors used leftovers for themselves. My favourite has always been bubble and squeak especially on Boxing Day and what could be more delightful than bread and butter pudding.

Ditch the packaging

Have you ever thought about how much unrecyclable packaging you have to throw away when you buy something at a shop or supermarket?
 
We now have locally an assortment of foods which you can select, put in your own container or one of the paper bags provided, weigh, take to the checkout with the weight and price slip, pay and  take home.  Isn’t that amazing?
Let’s all try it!

Reducing Waste

Did you know that in the UK 40 million tonnes of waste go to landfill each year. As the waste breaks down it produces methane and carbon dioxide which are greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change. So reducing consumption, reusing and recycling are vital.

If you want to know more about why dealing with waste is so important BBC1’s Earthshot Prize is a good place to start. Here is the link to the first episode.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p09w81sz/the-earthshot-prize-repairing-our-planet-series-1-5-build-a-wastefree-world

Feed the birds

If you gave up feeding the birds at the end of Spring now is the time to start again. Garden birds usually have regular feeding habits and need to establish them again. You will need to check that the feeders are clean and can be safely hung where the squirrels find it difficult to reach. You will also need to meet the needs of ground feeders such as dunnocks and pigeons. Wholemeal bread will be fine but not white as it ferments in the bird’s crops. Only put out meat scraps if you want to be visited by crows and magpies. Put the food near bushes or trees which will prevent hunters such as the sparrow hawk come swooping down. You can make your own fat balls with lard, breadcrumbs and some shop bird food.

There is nothing as nice as a garden visited by birds through the winter.

Careful in your kitchen

You can save on your annual energy bill just by using your kitchen appliances more carefully:

  • Cut back your dishwasher use by just one cycle per week.
  • Cut back your washing machine use by just one cycle per week and wash at 30 degrees rather than 40.
  • Only fill the kettle with the amount of water that you need.
  • Turn your appliances off standby mode.

Leaves

It’s that time of year that leaves start to fall. Leaves have a highly complex make up and play a significant part in carbon retention. As soon as they are formed all deciduous leaves have a line at their base which will govern the way they fall. Biologists call this abscission,

Leaves in woodlands fall into a thick carpet which does not go through the process of decay which would give off methane and carbon dioxide both of which contribute to global warming. Instead the leaves are gradually taken down by worms and contribute to the organic humus. As they break up the nitrates in the leaves leach into the soil.
Leaves in our gardens don’t go through this process. We ether put them into a compost bin or we take them to a council tip where they are put in with all the other decomposing plant matter. This again results in the emission of CO2 and methane.

We have two ways of making leaf fall more eco friendly. We can either dig all the leaves into the soil or put the leaves into a chicken wire basket which will supply a similar environment as a layer of leaf litter. As this falls apart it will give you a supply of leaf mould which will enhance the condition of your garden soil.

Switch to green energy

You’re more likely to get your electricity powered by green energy, but advances in technology mean that your home can get some of its gas from renewable sources, depending on your green energy provider. You can often save some money, too. Switching supplier is easy and takes about 10 minutes. 

Check this website for more information https://bigcleanswitch.org/

Understand Expiration Dates

Expiration dates actually refer to the product’s quality, not safety. There’s a difference between the “sell-by” label (the deadline for retailers to sell the product) and “use-by” (the date when the product starts to lose its quality and flavor). 

Do not throw this food – freeze it and cook later.

Power yourself with plants

The emissions from intensive dairy and cattle farming are a big part of the climate problem. By eating less meat and dairy you can limit your impact in terms of carbon and methane emissions and enjoy a healthier diet. You can start from a Meat-free day once a week or use oat, almond, or coconut milk as a good alternative to dairy.

Encouraging Hedgehogs

The hedgehog population is in decline over the whole of the UK. Th best way we can help them is to provide somewhere for them to survive through the winter. If you have a sheltered corner of your garden and access to some dry logs or a lot of deadplant material then you can make a simple place for them to hibernate. They will soon be looking for such a place and at the end of October will be settling in for the winter.

Other ways to help them. You can feed them dog or cat food but make sure it does not contain any fish.They will also appreciate a bowl of water.

Lastly they will need a way in or out of the garden. A small hole in the fence or gaps of other kinds will help them to forage and find other hogs.

Hedgehogs will repay you by eating up the slugs and other pests which are spoilng your garden.

If you are walking along the river side in Hurst Park just past the cricket club you will see an ernormous pile which we hope will house a number of hogs.

Plan your grocery shopping

To minimize your food loss follow these simple steps:

  • Plan out a weekly menu.
  • Make a list of everything you need.
  • Go shopping on a full stomach. 

Switch to reusable products

1. Although recyclable paper straws are a much better alternative to plastic, a better swap is to bamboo one which can be reused to save paper consumption.

2. Reusable hot drink cups can also be made from quality and long-lasting materials and they feel and look nice. You can use them in a coffee shop and baristas are happy to put coffee in your hot drink cup, which will reduce amount of usage of paper cups.

Buy less and grow your own

Buy less and grow your own. A large proportion of shop-bought fruit and vegetables are responsible for causing significant environmental damage. They wrapped in copious amounts of plastic, transported long distances before reaching the chopping board, and grown using chemical pesticides. By growing your own garden, you are the one to decide what goes on your plants and into your soil. 

For more information about local allotments, visit https://lynwoodallotments.chessck.co.uk/

Finches

The last few years have been difficult for finches. The green finches have virtually disappeared in Esher and Hinchley Wood and others such as chaffinches are in decline. The only good news is in an upsurge in goldfinches across large areas of the country.

We can help these birds in several ways. First and most important is that we keep our birdfeeders clean. There has been a surge acros the country of a virus that attacks green finches which has been spread by dirty feeders.

Finches feed mostly on seeds from thistles and teazels but we can help by leaving the seed heads on plants such as poppies, daisies, marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers. If you put sunflowers hearts in your feeders you will almost certainly be rewarded by visits from goldfinches and chaffinches with the bonus of an occasional visit from a greater spotted wood pecker.

If there is no other option to flying, consider using an airline that operates a carbon offset scheme. These aim to reduce the environmental impact of air travel. Travellers can voluntarily pay to ‘offset’, or make up for, the emissions that their flights produce.

Offset your Flight

Many major airlines support such schemes.

https://www.iata.org/en/programs/environment/carbon-offset/

https://mediacentre.britishairways.com/pressrelease/details/86/0/11944

Let the Train take the strain

Trains are an environmentally friendly mode of transport and allow you to travel long distances in a relatively short amount of time. They can be a cheaper and more adventurous way of travelling to your destination, plus, you will get to experience beautiful scenery on route!

“A journey from London to Madrid would emit 43kg (95lb) of CO2 per passenger by train, but 118kg by plane”.

What about a bike instead

Instead of always driving, consider cycling, especially for short local journeys.

If you find it difficult to use an ordinary bicycle, electric bikes are becoming more popular, and take the strain when negotiating hills!

Drive Green and safe fuel and the environment

On long car journeys drive ‘green’ and save fuel.

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/fuel-saving-tips/

Belong to a Car Club

If you are an occasional car user, car club schemes may be a better alternative to owning your own car. Everything is included, insurance, cleaning, servicing, and refueling. You just book a car when you need one and drive away!

Think ahead to reduce journeys

Think ahead. Bundle a number of small errands into one trip to save time and fuel.  Consider if a phone call, email or letter would do instead.

Maximise your daily exercise

Walk for short local errands and trips.  It may take less time than you think. Studies have shown that most people will underestimate the time for car journeys, and overestimate the time it will take to walk. Walking allows time for relaxation and contemplation.

Can you do a “Car-Free” Day?

If you use your car a lot, try and have one “car-free” day a week. Think of it as being similar to “Meat free Mondays” or “Dry January”!

Show your support for climate change

There are many environmental charities working hard to tackle the climate crisis. Click on one [or all] of the links below to show your support:

https://www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/climate-justice-2021

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/

https://www.wwf.org.uk/fight-climate-change

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk