Creation Care Team Exhibit Shares Wealth of Inspirational Examples at Annual Meeting

By Kathy Bartilson

Visitors to the 2022 Annual Meeting learned about dozens of ways to be Earth-friendly when they visited the exhibit of the Creation Care Team.

Featured congregational activities included:

Plymouth Congregational UCC, Eau Claire

This congregation grew native plants and planted them on their grounds, and removed invasive buckthorn and other nuisance species. The native plantings grew into a neighborhood project and community education effort that included information about invasive species shared in a new Little Free Library. In addition:

  • For decades the Plymouth Quilters have kept fabric scraps out of landfills by collecting them from donors and sewing 60 to 100 quilts a year for local charities.
  • Their Green Team has been active in implementing recycling and composting in the church building.
  • Plymouth Church also adopted a Kairos Creation Covenant this year.

Memorial UCC, Fitchburg

Memorial has done several projects in the congregation and in the community in recent years.

  • Sustainable products were shared with members to reduce plastic consumption and transportation costs and to encourage use of biodegradable products.
  • Sustainable Christmas gifts were offered for sale during the weeks before Christmas.
  • NO MOW MAY was promoted in the congregation this spring.
  • A Three Sisters garden is being planted on the church property, with Three Sisters seeds (corn, beans and squash) being distributed to the congregation. This is in response to reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” as a congregation last year.
  • This spring, the congregation voted to become a Creation Justice Church.

St. John’s UCC, Hartford

Over about five years this church recycled an estimated 750 pounds of Christmas lights. They advertised in the local media and on the Chamber of Commerce sign board. American Recycling in West Bend accepted the lights and gave the church money for them.

First Congregational UCC, Wisconsin Rapids

This congregation installed a solar array in 2021. The solar installation was financed with grants from the Wisconsin Conference UCC, Northwest Association, Focus on Energy and RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good initiative, as well as contributions from the congregation. The solar project is the congregation’s latest response to the Kairos Call to Action that invites churches to commit to climate-saving actions. The system is expected to produce up to three-quarters of the electricity used by the church.

Plymouth Congregational, Madison

A new solar array installed last year will reduce the church’s carbon footprint, combating climate change and demonstrating to the wider community that something can be done on the local level to care for God’s creation.

Congregational UCC, Ladysmith

This congregation installed more LED lighting to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the church’s energy efficiency.

Bethel-Bethany UCC, Milwaukee

Retired Pastor Tim Perkins and other members of the congregation are active in the Green Sherman Park initiative through the Sherman Park Community Association. They have pursued nontraditional funding sources, including Department of Natural Resources’ Urban Forestry grants, to plant more trees in the neighborhood. Many environmental initiatives are underway here.

Congregational UCC Churches, Conrath and Ladysmith

Creation Care is for birds, too. These congregations have an active Creation Care birding group, participating in state and international birding events like the Great Backyard Bird Count and Great Wisconsin Birdathon.

First Congregational UCC, Madison

This congregation installed an impressive rooftop solar array. The panels are estimated to provide about 65% of the electricity for the church with an annual savings of $8,000 to $10,000. All savings generated from the panels will be used to support local causes that advocate for social justice.

. . . and . . .

McFarland UCC, McFarland … native plantings

First Congregational UCC, Madison … solar installation

Grace Congregational UCC, Two Rivers … LED lighting, natural area and nature trails

Saint Stephens UCC, Merrill … heating system

United Church Camps Inc., Green Lake … creation care and identity visioning

Trinity UCC, La Crosse … dishwasher and tree planting

First Congregational UCC, Appleton … eco-justice speaker series

First Congregational UCC, Oshkosh … native plantings and a community garden

Union Congregational UCC, Green Bay … solar installation

These projects are making a difference in local communities and beyond. Many were helped by Kairos grants through the Wisconsin Conference.

Consider a project in your church to respond to the Kairos Call to Action!

Featured items included:

Who Gives a Cr** 

“Charitable” Paper Products

Did you know that more people in the world have cell phones than have access to sanitary restroom facilities?  This bothered the founders of “Who Gives a Crap” paper enough that they started this mail-order paper products company, which donates 50% of its profits to building sanitary toilet facilities around the world.

The company offers excellent recycled and bamboo household paper products through a subscription service on their humorous website. Since 2012, the Australian company has donated more than $7.5 million (U.S.) to a partner charity that builds and maintains simple sanitary facilities around the world. These paper products are available in the continental United States as well, with satisfied customers in Wisconsin.

These plastic-free products are shipped to your door in cardboard boxes at a frequency you choose. The cost is reasonable for the quality and service provided, currently around $1.29 per roll of recycled toilet paper. According to the company website, they are a “B Corp™ certified for the highest standards of social and environmental impact.”  Shipping is free and certified carbon-neutral on orders over $25.

  • $7.5 million donated for sanitation
  • Plastic-free products and packaging
  • Recycled and bamboo paper
  • Carbon neutral shipping to Wisconsin
  • Sustainable and socially responsible

Sheets Laundry Club

Dry Sheets of Laundry Soap in a Cardboard Box

Here’s one example of “laundry sheets” of dry, laundry soap. Feel free to open the box and handle the sheet. One sheet placed in the washing machine is enough. They dissolve well, even in hard water. There are several companies making similar products at varying prices. Some offer a discount for people who subscribe for regular resupply.

Homemade Cloth Grocery Bag

This home-sewn bag has been used at least weekly for nearly 20 years and is still going strong. That means it has eliminated the need to produce, transport, reuse and recycle around 1,000 plastic and paper bags. Multiply that by around nine similar bags used by one family over the same two decades, and it adds up to 10,000 single-use bags not needed.

Canned Water4kids

Drinking Water in Recyclable Aluminum Cans

This is a great WISCONSIN non-profit to support. Located in Sussex, Wisconsin, this non-profit organization is dedicated to assuring safe water locally and worldwide, especially for children. According to the website, the company believes “all children need clean, safe water today – so they have a chance at tomorrow.”  Further, the water is put in recyclable aluminum cans and bottles, eliminating use of plastic bottles. Working with other partner organizations, they support construction of wells and water purification systems, as well as disaster relief and educational efforts. Locally, the company has donated $10,000 in water to nursing moms in Milwaukee ZIP codes where there is lead in the drinking water. They also donate water to city kids and teach entrepreneurship and Water 101. The non-profit is celebrating its 15th anniversary in business this year.

Congratulations and thanks to these (and many more) churches and organizations taking an active role in Creation Care. We hope you are inspired to further action by their projects.

Tell us your story!  

The Resources Working Group of the Creation Care Team would love to share your projects, news, ideas, photos and videos, with other congregations throughout the Conference, and beyond –  including via our Kairos Newsletter. Email materials to Kathy Bartilson.

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