ST. ANSELM’S ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT
Leaders of all faiths now realize that while God created and maintains the earth we humans must be willing partners in the task of preserving it. St. Anselm’s parishioners started with the question “What can we do to help?” From these beginnings have come a series of concrete actions, described below.
California has always been and will probably always be a water-short area. Water-conservation measures aid in preserving this increasingly scarce commodity.
In 2009 we replaced five antiquated toilets with new low-flow toilets. These new toilets have reduced our potable-water consumption by approximately four gallons per flush and our wastewater flow to the sewage-treatment plant by the same amount.
In the last five years we have planted large gardens composed entirely of native California plants. The plants are beautiful, drought resistant, and convert carbon dioxide (a gas believed partially responsible for global warming) to oxygen, a gas with positive environmental effects. What little water the plants use is applied very efficiently in their root zone by automatic drip irrigation systems.
In response to the drought of 2014, we have cut our water use by half. This reduction has been largely accomplished by understanding our gardens’ minimum irrigation needs, throttling back watering times to match those needs, and by using our programmable water flow controllers more effectively.
Clean Power Production and Energy Conservation
Clean power production and energy conservation measures and have not only save us money but, by substituting for power that would have otherwise been produced at a fossil-fuel burning power plant, reduce the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere.
Our solar panels generate clean electric power. Now in their seventh year of operation, they continue to provide excellent results. Our electric bill has hovered near zero since the panels were installed and we have saved $25,000 in power costs alone. Clean power generated at St. Anselm’s also means that the production of about 20 tons of CO2 was avoided at the power plant.
Energy conservation has been approached in many ways. We replaced incandescent lights with energy efficient fluorescent lights; installed programmable thermostats so that buildings are heated or cooled only when people are present; and replaced old heater/cooler units with modern heat pump/air-conditioning units. We continue to turn off lights and appliances (copy machines, computers) when they are not in use.
Plants beautify the landscape and reduce hillside erosion. They also take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as part of their life process and convert it to life-giving oxygen.
In the last five years, we have planted large gardens on steeply sloped land above the parish hall and below the church building. The gardens are populated with native species requiring very small amounts of water once established. They are watered with efficient automatic drip irrigation systems.
Additionally, many have commented on the greatly improved appearance of the church courtyard as the result of the planting of colorful flowers in the concrete and redwood planters. The flowers have been faithfully watered and attended to by several parish volunteers.
We have separated recyclable and non-recyclable kitchen waste for many years. More recently we have provided a collection point for exhausted batteries and compact fluorescent lights (CFL’s) in the northwest corner of the church building. The collected batteries and CFL’s, which contain toxic metals such as nickel, cadmium, and mercury, are taken to facilities where they can be disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner.
Getting the Word Out
We encourage our parishioners and anyone who visits our website to incorporate the environmental ethic into their lives. The encouragement comes via our newsletter, letters, publicity, and sermons. The projects cited above are held up as examples of activities that could be brought into anyone’s home. We want the word to spread, like a ripple emanating from a stone thrown into a pond. To read a sermon delivered by one of our parishioners, please click on the link Religion and the Environment. To read monthly articles written by our parishioners about environmental topics click on the link Environmental Series.
If you would like more information on this topic or wish to be contacted by someone about it, click here to send an e-mail request.