Green Sanctuary Meeting Notes 3/2/2022

1.     Finalize Vegan Forum and Potluck: “Preserving our Planet with Plants”

a.     The Forum will be centered on the east windows. Tow’s thirty-minute presentation will have three components: 1) eating habits can be self-destructive; 2) spirituality of healthy eating; 3) Veganism is good for the environment. We expect about 30-40 people. We will encourage people reducing meat in their diets.

b.     Potluck: Tow will bring a main dish. Amy has money to reimburse him. We will encourage people to bring vegan food and a recipe card that can be photographed. Fruits and vegies are welcome. Table talk after 15 minutes of eating. Live our UU beliefs. SJMLT table talk cards. GS intended to model good behavior by using reusables, washing the dishes, and leaving the kitchen clean. Unfortunately, the dishwasher is dead. We will use compostable plates instead. We will work with Social Justice Ministry Leadership Team to help pay for Tow’s main dish and provide discussion cards at each table. Tow will print flyers about veganism (sustainably made). We expect a maximum of 100 people. Ron will write the article for the Intercom. Tow and Katie will proofread it. Terry Meek will help monitor kitchen work.

2.     We’re still discussing a policy statement from GS about Reusables vs. Disposables. Linda G will try to find a statement that will guide us in composing a policy statement.

a.     There is not a commercial composting company in Des Moines. We could compost ourselves. It would be more expensive and labor intensive.

b.     Feedback from UU churches in Iowa below.

c.      Other ideas to consider: Paper napkins vs cloth napkins? Un-paper towels (cloth)? Jenea knows someone who sews them.  Beverage size and meal size napkins? Purchase cloth napkins through second-hand store (wouldn’t match)? Put paper towels and compostable plates in compost bin? Monitoring garbage, recycling, and composting in Kitchen will be labor intensive. The Kitchen Committee discussed hiring a Kitchen Manager but we probably can’t afford it now. We should compile a check list of what needs to be done before kitchen crew leave the kitchen.  

3.     Shared Leadership: We will adopt a shared leadership model. Possible statement “Through our work together, we strive to create and experience democracy.  Believing that none of us is as smart as all of us, we strive to harvest the collective wisdom of everyone. We will share the leadership roles. Individuals will be respected when they don’t feel comfortable with specific roles. The roles will include: Facilitator, Centering (opening and closing)/Time Keeper, and Recorder” (roles attached).

4.     Other plans we didn’t address at this meeting but we’ll consider at future meetings.

a.     Educational topics/flyers: electric cars, how to be ecological in church and homes. Devon McClurken adult class. Reba Eagles Forums.

b.     Garden: vegetable, pollinator

c.      Solar: church solar and/or an educational presentation on home solar installation

d.     Kitchen Committee to monitor composting, garbage, recycling.

e.     host a showing and discussion of Cowspiracy (Netflix).

5.     Next Meeting Wednesday, April 6, 7:30 pm

Feedback from UU Churches in Iowa We will share this feedback and our recommendation to the Board with all the Iowa UU churches.

1.     UUS Green Team, Iowa City: For larger events we use cups, plates, silverware that we wash.  For smaller events when a handful of people are present, we use compostable paper and compostable forks and spoons.  We don’t throw things in the trash except for the items that some of the people bring in who don’t know better. If you are remodeling your kitchen, you might want to install hand soap dispensers on the wall next to each sink.  I also recommend dish soap dispensers built into the sink.  We chose recycled glass countertops for the most sustainable option.  Also, for sustainability, the recommendation is all electric appliances.  Sally Hartman

2.     Cedar Rapids: I’m responding to your request on how our church, Peoples Church in Cedar Rapids is managing reusables and disposables. I’m responding just from managing the kitchen part of our church. We have had minimal in-person contact at church for nearly 2 years now. We’ve been doing our services on Zoom for that time. I rarely go into church anymore. When we had a small lunch or coffees, we use our mugs and dishes. We ordered larger mugs 3-4 years ago to replace our small china cups. They are easier to handle. We have been using paper napkins. This was our practice even before the pandemic. We have regular home dishwashers in our   downstairs kitchen and upstairs small coffee station room. I would say we tried to recycle as much as able, though not very well. Cedar Rapids citizens don’t do that well either. It’s not that the City doesn’t do educational activities to encourage proper recycling, citizens don’t pay much attention. (My own neighborhood does a poor job too- to my great frustration !).  Jill Jones

3.     Mason City UU: We have discussed the Green Sanctuary movement. We decided on co-housing with the Community Kitchen back in the day when we had enough members that we were talking about getting our own building 25 to 30 years ago. We decided that through our rent we would help support their mission to combat hunger locally. We would avoid another poorly used building, another asbestos parking lot parking lot. We knew at the time and over the years when the discussion came up that having our own building which no matter how green would have costs to the environment. We try to stay away from styrofoam and non-recyclable items, etc. We try to raise issues as part of our programs to help people understand we are a part of the interdependent web of all existence: the importance of taking ownership of the pollution of air and water; of America’s and our own carbon footprint; of overuse of nonrenewable resources such as soil and water. We partner with groups in the community to work for climate change solutions. We have chosen sustainability over growth which has been a two edged sword, but our consensus of the congregation. Susan Urbatsch

4.     Dubuque UU Church:  In response to your question, we have not had in person services since the pandemic, except for a few months.  However, when we were meeting in person, we would use washable silverware and cups for our after service snacks, and paper plates.  When we had church pot lucks, we used washable dishes.  We try not to use plastic dishes as much as possible. Gail Guenther

5.     Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clinton: We are very small.  We use real dishes and hand wash them; cloth napkins and a member launders them. Carol Rogers

6.     First Unitarian Church of Sioux City Iowa:  We refuse single use. We use reusable plates and cups and cloth napkins for big meals/potlucks. We wash dishes by hand. We use ceramic cups for coffee. Outside groups may use Styrofoam or plastic. We recycle and can recycle paper plates if not contaminated. We have a vermiculture bin. We have a garden. Jeanne Bockholt

The Correct Way to Dispose of Compostable Plates

While grease and food residue can cause serious problems with recycling, they aren’t an issue in the composting process. If you’re using a compostable plate, don’t worry about scraping off your leftover dinner before composting it. How to dispose of your compostable plate depends on what it’s made of. Compostable plastics made from vegetable starches can only completely decompose when exposed to extremely high temperatures, so it’s best to send them to an industrial composting facility. If there isn’t one where you live, you’ll have to throw them in the trash. That’s why it’s important to consider the composting resources in your community before purchasing compostables. You can compost plates made from bagasse, bamboo, and palm leaves in your backyard compost pile. Because these products are dry, brown composting materials, make sure there’s plenty of green materials in your pile to provide moisture. Consider cutting them into small pieces first to make the decomposition process go quicker. You can also send these materials to an industrial composter if you don’t have your own backyard pile. Compostable products are not recyclable, so don’t put them in your curbside recycling bin. If you can’t compost them, throw them away.

Recommended Meetings and Groups

Congregational Climate Convergence: March 22 @ 12-3:30 p.m. CT

Calling all congregational lay leaders and religious professionals passionate about climate justice! Join Side With Love, Green Sanctuary 2030, and UU Ministry for Earth for a day of community nourishment, resource sharing and skill-building to support your local eco ministries! Register here.

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