Monday, November 30, 2009

Christ Church Green Team - Who Are We?

The Christ Church Green Team began this fall with the goal of practicing environmental stewardship—and encouraging other Christians to do the same. Here’s a look at our members and the different things that are important to us in our various journeys toward greener living:

Keely Farris

Keely’s road to green began in a seventh-grade science class when a substitute teacher explained how long it took Styrofoam to decompose. Years later, she read Green Baby, Sage Mom and says it changed her life. She now avidly supports organic products and volunteers as a Green Cleaning Parties host, helping people who want to make their own green cleaning products. Keely’s first step to being green started with buying organic baby food, followed by buying cleaning products at health food stores and our local green grocery. Her family began recycling, and now she makes own cleaning products. She and her husband Heath have two children: Ian, 4, and Lilah, 2.

Jennifer Hobbs

Jennifer’s family really started thinking green earlier this year when she and her sister decorated a "green" table for the CUMC Mad Hatter's Tea—everything on the table could be recycled or was recycled. This caused her to think about all stuff we waste and throw away: Did it have another purpose? Her family now recycles and tries to consume less. She uses only homemade cleaners and makes her own body wash; she says her son, who is prone to chronic sinus infections and nosebleeds, has been more healthy since she stopped using harsh cleaners at home. Jennifer’s next goal is to start composting. She is married to Jason Hobbs, and they have two children: Noah, 6, and Sarah, 3.


Julene Simmons

Julene’s passion is recycling and trying to keep items out of landfills. She says her sons love to help with recycling and are always proud to help someone else out by giving away items we don't need on Freecycle. (And Julene’s friends are always amazed at the freebies she finds through Freecycle!) She believes it’s important to know that even as “just” one family, she—and all of us—can make a difference! Julene is also active in the Christ Church music ministry. She and her husband Ben have two sons: Alex, 4, and Paxton, 3.

Cathy Turner

Dr. Cathy Robbs Turner is the Christ United Methodist Church Director of Education and serves as the God is Green coordinator. Cathy considers herself "light green" when it comes to the eco movement and is eagerly learning and growing as an environmental steward. She believes that the world God created has been entrusted to us. We show respect for our Creator by our care for creation. Her e-stewardship journey has begun with an effort to go paperless by paying bills online, forgo plastic water bottles, and recycle paper.


LeeAnne Viall

LeeAnne became a reluctant recycler about 10 years ago when her mother guilted her into it, but she's since become a bit obsessed about the issue. She and her family now recycle everything, even swapping with out-of-state family to ensure items not accepted in Chattanooga still get recycled. She has also switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs and all-natural cleaning products, tries to purchase organic, locally grown food as much as possible, and has bought reusable shopping bags (and quickly learned that the bags only help when you actually remember to take them inside the store ...). LeeAnne believes that Christians have a unique responsibility to care for the earth God created and is thrilled to have found other folks at Christ Church who feel the same way. Her next goal is to eliminate two things from her life: plastic bags and heavily processed foods. She is married to Bobby Viall, and they have one daughter: Maggie, 5.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Green Thanksgiving

Did you know? Americans produce 25 million extra tons of garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

If you're hosting - or just attending - a big Thanksgiving dinner this year, you're probably already thinking about the meal preparations and Black Friday sales. But every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans generate 25 million extra tons of garbage. As you kick off this busy season, why not get started on a more eco-friendly holiday by making your Thanksgiving a little greener? Here are eight great ideas, courtesy of earth911 and ABC affiliate KIVI-TV in Boise, Idaho, to get you started:

  1. Shopping for Food
    When shopping for your Thanksgiving meal, keep two words in mind: organic and local. These keywords will guarantee a fresher, more nutritious meal. If you buy local, not only can you enjoy fresh food, but you will also support your local economy. Check for farmers’ markets, family farms, community-supported agriculture programs and U-Pick options in your area for the freshest produce, eggs, dairy and grass-fed meat. Also, consider buying organic wines to be more eco-conscious without sacrificing quality or taste. If you’re going to have a large crowd, buy food in bulk to reduce packaging waste and save money. And of course, bring your own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store.

  2. Crowd Control
    At least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year – more than 100 pounds per person. One of the best ways to reduce your waste this Thanksgiving is to plan ahead for the meal and practicing portion control. Use Less Stuff has created a list of approximate per-person food and drink portions:

    -Turkey- 1 pound
    -Stuffing- ¼ pound
    -Sweet potato casserole- ¼ pound
    -Green beans- ¼ pound
    -Cranberry relish- 3 tablespoons
    -Pumpkin pie- 1/8 of a 9 inch pie

    After the meal, evaluate how many people were present and how much of each dish was consumed. By keeping track each year, you can make a more efficient, less wasteful Thanksgiving meal in the future.

  3. Playtime Isn't Just for Kids
    Instead of planting yourself in front of the TV for the day, consider getting some fresh air or playing a board game. Take advantage of the time together with friends and family while decreasing your energy usage. Try bundling up and playing some football outside instead of watching it. Split the whole family into teams and get everyone involved. Make sure the winners get to go through the dessert line first!

  4. Traveling Tips
    According to Use Less Stuff, if each family reduced holiday gasoline consumption by 1 gallon (about 20 miles), we would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tons. Invite nearby friends and family and neighbors to your house for Thanksgiving dinner and encourage them to do the same. If you must go over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, turn down the thermostat and turn off the lights to save energy while you’re gone.

  5. Setting the Table
    There are many options when it comes to table settings. If you're having a small gathering, get out your nice china for the occasion and use cloth napkins. If you’re expecting a big crowd, organize it like a potluck and ask your guests to bring dishes and silverware for themselves. If disposable place settings are your only choice, opt for biodegradable and compostable utensils, napkins and plates, such as those from Biodegradable
    The average dishwasher uses between 7 and 15 gallons of water per cycle, so be sure to fill the dishwasher to capacity before running it to save water and energy.

  6. Crafty Decorations (Yes, You Can Do It!)
    Add some handcrafted elegance to your table with homemade decorations. Most materials can be found in your craft cupboard or backyard. Have the kids chip in with a pre-Thanksgiving craft day. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
    -Acorn napkin ties
    -Dried leaf place cards
    -Corn or leaf print place mats
    -Pinecone turkeys
    -Painted gourds
    -Festive fall arrangements of pumpkins or corn cobs
    -Make your own cornucopia
    If there is a tablecloth or other decorative item you’ve been eying, make sure it’s a purchase you’ll be happy to reuse in the future. Some decorations can even become new family traditions.

  7. Lose the Leftovers
    Once the party is over, it’s time to decide what to do with all that leftover food. Don’t forget to donate your leftovers to a food bank or nearby homeless shelter. And remember to compost your food scraps. If you bought Thanksgiving supplies in bulk, the containers from your various products are perfect for storing large quantities of leftovers. Make sure your guests leave with a portion of extra food to take home. After all, one of the best Thanksgiving traditions is noshing on leftover turkey sandwiches and mashed potatoes for lunch the following weekend.

  8. Recycling Isn’t a Chore
    Get back to the basics and recycle. Provide clearly marked recycling containers for paper, plastic, and glass, and make sure your guests know not to throw these items in the garbage can. Recycling all packaging, as well as any beverage containers, will significantly reduce the number of times you have to take the trash out, as well as the amount of garbage you send to the landfill.

  9. A Family Affair
    Thanksgiving is a great time to invite the rest of your family to "go green" for the Christmas season. Not everyone needs to be on board, but you might be surprised at the small steps your loved ones are willing to take. Remember: We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children!

Friday, November 20, 2009

These shoes were made for ... recycling?

Photo courtesy of

Just last year, Americans discarded more than 300 million pairs of shoes. When these shoes break down in our landfills, the toxic glue that holds the shoes together can leak into our water supply and atmosphere. Old athletic shoes might not be at the top of your recycling list, but did you know that even these can be recycled? The rubber soles of 75,000 pairs of sneakers can create an entire running track, and the foam from the same shoes can be turned into the springy surface of three tennis courts! While it might be harder to find places to recycle your shoes, it's worth it to keep millions of pairs out of our landfills.

Worn-out athletic shoes - of any brand - can be turned in at a Nike store or another Nike collection site. (The closest collection site is at the Nike Factory Store in Calhoun, Ga.) Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program recycles the rubber, foam, and fabric from more than 24 million pairs of shoes. This recycled material is turned into various types of surfacing, including tennis courts, tracks, athletic fields, and children's playgrounds.

If you're getting rid of wearable shoes that have just gone out of style, you have more options. Local thrift stores will often re-sell the shoes, raising money for their charities AND keeping the shoes out of the landfill. In addition, Shoes 4 Orphan Souls ( cleans up unwanted shoes and ships them to needy people around the world. The group facilitates donations from organizations and individuals and has distributed more than 4 million pairs of shoes to people in 125 different countries.

Most of our closets are full of shoes we rarely wear. The next time you decide to clean these out, think twice before you throw them away! We can change the world, one pair at a time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Green Mattress deal

The Green Mattress Company at Hamilton Place is offering $100 off any latex or EcoMemory mattress! To take advantage of this deal, CLICK HERE and then select the Green Mattress Co. box. You will be directed to a printable coupon, which you can redeem at the store.

This offer is valid through 12/31/09.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holiday tips

With the Christmas season fast approaching, we at the CUMC Green Team thought we'd share some of our favorite ideas for a greener holiday. Between now and New Year's Day, we'll post easy hints for making your holiday fun AND eco-friendly! And if you have any extra tips, please share them in the "comments" field (click on the "Comments" button at the end of this post).

Green holiday hints

  • Recycle!! This is probably one of the simplest things we can all do - at Christmas and year-round. Between the advertising flyers, wrapping paper, toy packaging, and added grocery shopping, Christmas generates a lot of waste! You can recycle wrapping paper, tin cans, boxes (both "regular" paper, toy packaging, cereal-type boxes, and corregated cardboard), even those glass wine bottles! (If you live in the Chattanooga city limits, all of these items except glass can be collected via curbside pickup. If you live outside the city limits, all - including glass - can be dropped off at one of Chattanooga's many recycling centers. CLICK HERE for curbside pickup schedule/guidelines and drop-off locations.)

  • Consider gifts that are friendly to the environment. Charitable donations are a great option for the person who has everything - and they produce virtually no trash and no harmful production process. If you want to give something more tangible, why not make or purchase a handmade gift? is an online marketplace where crafters sell their own wares. Gift certificates or memberships to local attractions make great gifts as well. (When my brother-in-law's children were young, my husband and I gave them a much-needed evening out: a restaurant gift card, tickets to the movies, and a coupon for free babysitting. And since having my own daughter, I've received gift memberships to the Creative Discovery Museum, Tennessee Aquarium, and Chattanooga Nature Center. I can promise you that parents with young children would love a free date night, a gift that continues "giving" year-round, or things that don't take up a lot of space in their homes!)

  • Decorate naturally. Decorate with fresh greenery rather than plastic. Trim branches from that holly bush out front, gather pine cones with the kids, fill a bowl with red and green apples, or replant your live Christmas tree when the holidays are over. (Young Life is selling live wreaths and garlands to raise money for its ministry.) Be creative! And share with us here what you come up with!

  • Take a time out. If you decorate with outdoor lights, do you leave them on all night? Consider buying a weather-friendly timer for your outdoor decorations. These timers can be set to come on at dusk and to turn themselves off at the time you designate.

Be sure to check back often for more great tips! And don't forget to share your own hints with us too!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Seeing green at the movies

No, it's not a new kind of techno-color! Chattanooga's Majestic Theatre, the country's first stand-alone Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) theatre, opens to the public today!

Some of the theatre's green features include:

  • Local, recycled construction materials used throughout building process
  • Motion-sensor lighting
  • White membrane roof to reflect solar energy
  • LED and fluorescent fixtures with programmable controls and sensors
  • Rainwater and condensation collection - for use in restrooms and landscape irrigation
  • Indoor air quality enhanced with environmentally friendly adhesives, sealants, cleaning and maintenance products

In addition, the downtown theatre is convenient to public transportation options and provides recycling collection containers throughout the facility. The building has been certified green through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Chattanooga's Majestic Theatre is located downtown at the corner of Broad and Third streets, across from the Creative Discovery Museum. It replaces the city's Bijou Theatre, which will be gutted and turned into commercial space.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

eBay goes green

According to eBay, it IS easy being green! And they're helping make it easier by providing buyers and sellers a chance to raise money for their favorite environmental charities. You can buy from sellers who are donating a percentage of their profits to groups like the World Wildlife Fund and Rainforest Alliance, you can donate a percentage of your own profits if you have items to sell, or you can use PayPal to make a simple donation.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

Happy shopping!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Energy Vampires

Halloween may be over, but many of us still have energy vampires - devices that suck electricity even when they're turned off - lurking in our homes. Check out this helpful link for tips on avoiding this year-round enemy. Killing the vampires is good for our wallets ... and good for the earth!