Sunday, November 30, 2008

Greening my church


It's about being good stewards of the earth, and that is a path that my church is taking.

There are a lot of environmentally conscious people who attend my church, however, our building is far from being green building and we don't have a sustainability plan. When I was asked if I was interested in helping to find ways to green our church I jumped at the chance!

My church had previously attended a meeting at the Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light. Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light (GWIPL) is a non-profit initiative that helps congregations, religious institutions and others in the Washington, DC area work for a more just, sustainable and healthier creation by reducing the threat of global warming. I learned a lot about what we can do not just to improve our building, but education programs and sermons that tie sustainable living to stewardship of creation. This really struck a chord in me so I asked about how to get things started at my church. http://www.gwipl.org/about_us.asp

First thing that the group offered was for us to have an Energy Assessment done of our building. The building was started in 1952 with additions in the 60s and 70s. So, there are a lot of improvements that can be made. Our audit took place on the 23rd of November so we will get a complete write up in a few weeks.

Next it was recommended I get a small committee together that will look at the assessment and the other ministries and programs in the church and start educating them on sustainable choices. GWIPL offers information to use on their website and will also come and instruct in the church. This is also a network of other local churches that are doing their best to go green so we can share ideas.

I am so excited about the possibilities and what we can do in this area. I'm praying that this will take hold with a good committee and that my church can make a positive contribution to the local neighborhoods.

Saturday, November 15, 2008








Friday was Recycle Day.

In honor of recycle day I decided to make some handmade paper. I have never done this before so I thought is would be an interesting project.
I have always liked the look of handmade paper, especially the kind with flower pedals in it.

I of course bought a kit to do this. I am creative, but not creative enough to not buy a kit. :)
Here is the recipe I used:
2 cups water
2 hand fulls of shredded paper from my paper shredder.


You blend the paper until it becomes a pulp. It has a bluish tint from the ink.

The kit comes with a wooden frame with a screen and plastic grid strapped to it. You put the frame in a tube of water, with the water about 1/4 from the top of the frame. Then you poor the pulp into the frame. The pulp spreads and then you slowly lift the frame from the water. You then put the frame onto a cookie sheet and unstrap the frame and pull it away. The plastic grid then has the screen resting on it with a layer of pulp. You put a finer mesh screen on top of that and start pressing the water from it it with a sponge. Yes, this takes as long to do as it took you to read all of the this. Phew!

So now I have a thick piece of paper/pulp. You now transfer that to some thick paper that comes with the kit and you press the paper/pulp between the sheets to get out more water. Then if you are impatient you can iron the paper to get it dry.

Well my first page is as thick as light cardboard. But I did it!
I made 4 sheets today and the last one has rose pedals in it. I'm quite pleased with myself. Here is a better recipe to use.

2 cups of water
1 hand full of shredded paper
1 pinch of dryer lint


Dryer lint? Yes, dryer lint. I read that using a pinch of cotton pulp or dryer lint will keep the ink from running should you decide to use this as actual paper. The kit even comes with a form for making matching envelopes.

My entire project took 2 hours for 4 pieces of paper to include clean up time.
Look out! I think I may do this for Christmas presents this year.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hybrid Highlights


Toyota has a concept car called the CR-Z.
http://automobiles.honda.com/cr-z/


Instead of switching to a hybrid I've been buying carbon offsets and driving less, but I still want to make the change. However, I want to get a smaller car. My ideal would be a Mazda Miata, but I'm not seeing any ads for that on the web. (Hint Hint)


I did see news about a concept car from Honda called the CR-Z. This stylish little number is compact like the CR-V and a bit sporty as well.


Everyone go to the site and fill out the questionnaire! Honda needs to go forward and capture this car market. The people are ready!

Commuting Habits Part II

The agony
My big plan to bike to work has been curtailed once again. Literally, "the will is there but the body is weak". I had no idea how hard it is to bike 14 miles to work!

The struggle
It took me forever to plan the route and talk myself into riding to work. I got the bike ready, told co-workers and family and then had to face the inevitable ... and actually ride the bike.

The valiant effort
Now, I do know how to ride a bike. I used to ride my bike to school every day since second or third grade. But I haven't ridden in the street since 2000 when I fell off my bike when I hit the curb wrong, let go of the handle bars and landed on my face which broke my jaw in 3 places. I recovered fine from the spill, but I'm timid when riding on the street, which is the first and last part of my trek to work.
But I have a nice Trek comfort bike and the center of gravity is positioned more like a cruiser. The likely of a wipe-out on this bike is a lot less likely then on my previous road bike.
So, before actually hitting the route to work...yes I know I'm killing you! I decided to just ride around where I live. I wanted to get used to street riding again. One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I did just that. And wow what an eye opener.

Still not there yet
First of all, it was a lot harder than I expected. I don't live in a flat area so the little hills were a challenge to go up, but fun to coast down.

Second, 14 miles is farther than I expected. I didn't even ride 14 miles that day and it took me 90 min because I was slow on the up hill and had to stop at the traffic lights. My ride to work takes me onto a path so I won't have as many stops but I will encounter as many hills. My test run was also about 10 miles, so I should estimate a 2 hour ride to be safe. Since I need to be at work by 6:30am I'll need to leave my house at least by 4:30am. At 4:30am I can barely find my bathroom from my bedroom let alone try to balance on a bicycle! So, I need to build up some speed to keep from having to get up so early before I make this ride to work.

Any benefit?
So is there any benefit in this sad story? Yes, I learned I can run errands using my bike. The 2 paniers are the size of 2 large grocery bags. I have plenty of room to make a trip to the supermarket. I used my bike to drop of 2 bags of clothing at a collection site near where I live. So, yes I'm making progress and will continue to choose my bike over the car for those trips under 10 miles from my house. I still want to someday ride to work, but I will need to work on increasing my speed and shaking off the excuses!

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