Church activities and environmental sustainability

Last night, I went to a musical fireside. There were several musical numbers and a few spoken testimonies. It was pretty good. Two young women performed a duet of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. They did a great job.

Afterwards, refreshments were available in the gym. While they were pretty tasty, it did produce a lot of waste. All the dishes were polystyrene foam, and the styrofoam cups contained only water.

It got me thinking. I was contemplating several of the church activities I attended in the last few months and realized it was the same at all of them: polystyrene foam dishes.

So I have been wondering what sort of options are available to try making church activities more environmentally sustainable.

1. Use dishes from the kitchen

Pros: No non-food waste
Cons: Requires more cleanup. Uses more water and natural gas (hot water) than disposable dishes

2. Use paper dishes

Pros: Less cleanup. Decomposes faster than polystyrene.
Cons: Still contributes to landfill use.

3. User paper napkins for dessert-only refreshments

Pros: Less cleanup. Decomposes faster than polystyrene and paper dishes. Less distribution and storage costs.
Cons: Still contributes to landfill use.

Any other thoughts?

Is Wal-Mart No Longer Evil?

Wal-Mar is pretty evil. Or that has been a popular perception up until late. There’s an entire Wikipedia article devoted to Wal-Mart’s faults.

Now, the Globe and Mail reports something many probably never expected the consumerist behemoth to do. It’s single-handedly changing the ecological footprints of dozens of companies by the green policies it is starting to implement.

Consider this:

When Wal-Mart announced recently it would carry only two-times-concentrated (or higher) liquid laundry detergent by May, 2008, it set off a reaction that amounts to one giant leap for the environment among manufacturers, packagers and shippers, experts say.

. . .

Wal-Mart’s directive influences not only what suppliers make for its shelves but what they market to the world. By April, 2008, Procter and Gamble will have dropped non-concentrated liquid detergents from all Canadian stores, says Lee Bansil, director of external relations for consumer products giant Procter and Gamble Canada.

In fact, the article claims Wal-Mart is accomplishing something no other company or non-profit has been able to do to date.

Is it too early to stop referring to Wal-Mart as evil? Can a change in environmental policy make up for labour practices or its economic effects in small towns?