ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AT UCM

We believe that all life is interconnected. From the forest to the sea to humanity itself, each thread of being is woven into a single fabric of existence. We embrace nature’s beauty and are in awe of its power. We care for our environment so that it may sustain life for generations to come, an especially important responsibility because those who are most impacted by environmental destruction are often those with the least power. Creating a sustainable way of life is central to our view of a just and compassionate world.

To further these ideals, we participate in the following actions:

The Green Sanctuary program provides a path for congregational study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges, worshiping and acting – grounded in justice and Unitarian values. Our community has a long tradition of working for equality, inclusion, peace and justice.  Our aspiration is to transform of ourselves, our congregation, and the world around us into a place of greater compassion and justice.

The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga seek to increase building sustainability, improve congregational practices, and create relationships within the wider community. In order to understand our environmental impact as institution and individuals, we create projects in four focus areas:

  • Environmental Justice
    Environmental Justice acknowledges that marginalized communities are often hit first and hardest by environmental crisis. Congregations shift from providing charity to working in solidarity with communities most affected by climate change.
  • Worship and Celebration 
    As we work together towards a cleaner, more just and sustainable world, worship enables us to stay connected to each other and to celebrate the work we have accomplished.
  • Religious Education 
    Religious Education shapes more than minds. It shapes the attitudes and practices of children, families and the entire adult congregation while inspiring us to keep working toward our goal of sustainable practices.
  • Sustainable Living
    Sustainable living requires us to treat the world more gently by using fewer resources and being mindful of the choices we make.

We regularly hold workshops.

Check out our Calendar

We have been busy implementing our Green Sanctuary Action Plan this winter and spring, with the hopes that we will have our official Green Sanctuary designation later this year.  To be a Green Sanctuary means we take our mission to act for an equitable, sustainable world seriously, working to reduce our ecological impact.

Taking into consideration our recent Truth and Reconciliation work, our connections with the Credit Valley Conservation Authority and Faith and the Common Good, the GS Task Force spent several meetings considering eco-justice needs, both locally and nationally.  When the Canadian Unitarian Council made the decision to focus on water as the 2019-20 national social justice issue, the Green Sanctuary Task Force decided a focus on water issues would be the best use of our connections, interests and resources.

Our previous work on water issues includes:

  • Purchase of water carafes for church and renters’ use.
  • Being a plastic water bottle free zone, affirming that choice in 2013.
  • Installing a Rain Garden with the support of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority in 2016.
  • Installation 10 years ago of a bio-filter septic system for all water use in buildings.
  • Creation of a berm and swale beside parking lot to promote healthy water return to the earth, in 2012.
  • No pesticide use.

This spring, we have several projects on the go, from Pamela`s weekly green tips in the Shining Chalice to a canoe garden coming later in the spring to advocating for a bottled water ban at the City of Mississauga to the Reconciliation in the Watershed weekend at the end of April (see side bar).  We are also having a Spring Ceremony on March 25th, and an Eco-Spirituality evening on May 29th.

As individuals, each of us is invited to find ways we can change our behaviour in small ways that have a big impact, and as a community we are working on improving our energy efficiency. We already have a naturalized landscape with native plants, using no chemicals.

Your help is needed to make our Green Sanctuary work a success! We need people to promote the Nestle boycott and the water bottle ban.

We need volunteers for the Reconciliation in the Watershed. We need you to play the Carbon Footprint game, attend after service workshops, and engage with the themes.

You can reach out the task force through greensanctuary@uucm.ca.

PowerPoint presentation on a Water Bottle Ban policy at the City of Mississauga Environmental Action Committee.

Watch the PowerPoint Presentation here.

Play the ‘Carbon Footprint’ Game!

Everyone is invited to join us to cut Carbon at Home. Almost 40% of each person’s carbon foot print comes from their home. Participating in activities to reduce your home carbon emissions is a great way to reduce all of our Carbon Footprints. Many are already taking actions to reduce their carbon footprints. The game visibly celebrates what we are doing, and encourages new and renewed efforts, big and small to reduce our own carbon footprints. It is a symbol of our commitment to live by our 7th principle, Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

UCM focuses on activities to reduce our use of energy. Televisions, radios, computers, clocks, computers, and game consoles consume power even when they are turned off!

Tip for the week: Unplugging
A large majority of the energy that powers our homes comes from fossil fuels, so unplugging (as in taking a break from electronic devices) reduces your energy demand and carbon emissions.

Watch out for those vampires! (No, not the blood-sucking kind) The vampire effect is the electricity consumed by your devices when they are plugged in but not in use. So, unplug those devices to reduce your energy use!

Yet another reason to stop those vampires: the average home is infested with 20 vampires, which not only hurts the environment, but adds around $200 to your energy bill according to Cornell University.

If going around to unplug every device is too tedious, don’t fear! Use power strips to unplug multiple devices at the same time. Smart power strips, work to reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode. Doing so may save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption in an average home ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent of your household energy consumption. It can also account for about 1 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions [source: Lawrence Berkley Nation Laboratory]. Unplugging is a great break for your mental health and for our environmental health.

Tip of the Week: Saving Electricity Doing the Laundry
This week we look at the amount of water and electricity we use doing the laundry. When you use your washing machine, make bigger loads or dial back the size to use less water and hydro. If your washing machine doesn’t allow you to choose the load size, try talking to your plumber about a more energy efficient option.
Combine loads. For new dark clothes it’s good to wash them on cold without light colours once, but after that, trust your gut. Use cold water instead of the power of heating, and hang dry to save on the electricity Your clothes will be fresher for it. Imagine the possibilities with that extra money, and just as soft clothing.

Tip of the Week: Heating and Cooling your home
Since heating and cooling your home is responsible for nearly half of your energy bill and a big chunk of your carbon footprint, you can take small steps to reduce your “footprint” and your bills. It is a win-win situation. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Change your air filters regularly. Clogged filters restrict airflow, which forces your HVAC system to work harder to meet the indoor load requirements.
  • Check your thermostats (programmable and WiFi) to confirm that they are not over heating or cooling when you are not home. In addition, try adjusting your thermostat just 2 degrees from what makes you comfortable. Two degrees down in winter; two degrees up in summer. You’ll hardly notice the difference…but you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by 2000 lbs. per year!

Check that your home is properly sealed so that warm or cool air stays indoors.

Tip of the Week: Replace Incandescent Bulbs
Replace incandescent bulbs with LED lighting LED lamps and tubes not only consume a fraction of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs, they have the double benefit of lasting almost for- ever and containing no mercury. By doing nothing except installing LEDs in the home, it is possible to reduce your carbon footprint by a whopping 6 tons per year.

Tip of the Week: Reduce – Simplify
Did you know? Over 40% of the North American carbon footprint is directly tied to making, moving, and disposing of all the things we use – and throw away – every day. The good news is that this big number presents a big opportunity. Everything we consume – from a can of soda to a sheet of paper – requires energy for its manufacture, transportation and disposal. This energy is usually produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal or gasoline, and burning fossil fuels means that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. Every person, every age, and every home can lower carbon pollution. Some of these activities save money, some cost money but each reduces carbon footprint. When we cut down on the Stuff We Buy we conserve natural resources, landfill space, energy, and protect the environment.

REDUCE – SIMPLIFY. The best way to manage waste is to not produce it. Shop carefully and consider these guidelines.

Tip of the Week: Reuse
Reusing materials prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials and the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators

  • Buy in bulk. Larger, economy-size products and concentrated forms use less packaging and often cost less. Bring your containers.
  • Avoid over-packaged goods; they are difficult to recycle and are costlier.
  • Avoid disposable goods, such as paper plates, cups, napkins, razors, and lighters. Throwaways contribute to the problem, and cost more because they must be replaced again and again.
  • Use cloth napkins and rags to replace paper towels. If you absolutely need to use disposable plates etc. purchase compostable products https://www.greenmunch.ca/sugarcane-plate-round-10-inch/
  • Replace plastic wrap with reusable beeswax food-wrap
  • Buy used. You can find everything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops. Often, used items are less expensive and just as good as new.
  • Borrow, rent or share items that are used infrequently, like party decorations, tools or furniture. https://torontotoollibrary.com/
  • Donate–One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Instead of discarding unwanted appliances, tools or clothes, try selling or donating them. Not only will you be reducing waste, you’ll be helping others. Local churches, community centers, thrift stores, schools and nonprofit organizations may accept a variety of donated items, including used books, working electronics and unneeded furniture. Donating your excess craft supplies to worthy causes is the best way to give them a fresh start. Here are some helpful tips and suggestions:
  • You can give fabric, batting and thread to quilters who contribute to Quilts of Valour, an organization that makes quilts for injured canadian soldiers. https://www.quiltsofvalour.ca/
  • Contact your local women’s shelter, drop-in program or community centre to ask if they accept donations of craft supplies. some community organizations, such as Sistering, a women’s agency serving homeless, marginalized and low-income women in Toronto, use donations of yarn, spinning fibre and fabric in their employment training programs. https://sistering.org/.
  • Blankets for Canada accepts donations of yarn and fabric to help in the organization’s mission to provide blankets – and comfort – to people in need. https://blankets4canada.ca/

Tip of the Week: Drive Wise
The way we drive can reduce emissions from our vehicles.
Follow these tips to effectively reduce emissions, drive more safely, and save money on fuel costs all at the same time:

  • Drive efficiently – go easy on the gas pedal and brakes.
  • Maintain your car – get regular tune-ups, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and use the recommended motor oil.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Properly inflated tires will lower your gas consumption and provide a smoother drive which will reduce the need for frequent acceleration.
  • Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

Tip of the Week: Public Transportation
Individuals can save more than $8,000 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving. Moreover, this mode can lead to substantial environmental benefits. If your commute is a 32km round trip, the switch to public transportation could lower your carbon footprint by 2177kg annually. Canadian households that produce the least amount of carbon emissions are located near a bus or rail line. The people in those households drive an average of 7081 fewer kilometres annually compared to similar households with no access to public transit.

Tip of the Week: Usage of water
The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga, UCM, unitarian universalist, carbon footprint, Reusable Water Bottle, environmental workshopsReusable water bottles are a convenient and environmentally friendly solution.  In 2013, Canadians purchased 2.4 billion litres of bottled water, which equals about 68 litres per person. Switching to a reusable water bottle would surely decrease the oil used, greenhouse gasses emitted, and bottles thrown away, reducing pollution threefold. The following information was found here https://www.waterdocs.ca/water-talk/2018/4/7/facts-about-bottled-water

  • A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute – which breaks down to 20,000 plastic bottles a second – and that number will jump another 20% by 2021.
  • In Ontario alone, one billion plastic water bottles are sent to landfill every year. The Polaris Institute estimates only 14% make it to recycling facilities.
  • Bottled water is almost 2,000 times more energy intensive to produce than tap water
  • Plastic bottles can take 450 years or more to break down and decompose. Some estimates push that number closer to 1,000 years.
  • Researchers recently tested bottled water for micro plastic particles and found that 93 per cent of the water tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).   https://orbmedia.org/stories/plus-plastic/
  • Tap water is strictly regulated by Health Canada and the provinces and territories, whereas bottled water is not.
  • It takes three times the water to make the bottle as it does to fill it
  • 3.5 litres of bottled water costs approximately 2,000 times more than the cost of a gallon of tap water

As of 2017, the global bottled water market was worth $198.5 billion, set to reach $300 billion by 2024.

Tip of the Week: Try Meatless Mondays
nitarian, Universalism, Universalist, Unitarian church, Unitarian congregation, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga, church Mississauga, congregation Mississauga, Mississauga, Oakville, Brampton, Unitarian faith, Unitarian beliefs, Unitarianism, principles, community, religious pluralism, tolerance, religious diversity, social justice, human rights, equality, spirituality, humanistic, truth, meaning, liberal, welcoming, LGBTQ, LGBTQIQ, interfaith, positive interaction, dialogue, diversity, democracy, interreligious, tolerance, equality, individual freedom, open-minded, connect, services, Sunday service, sermons, reflections, community programs, children programs, teenager programs, young adult programs, adult programs, our whole lives, hall rentals in Mississauga, chaplains, wedding, gay wedding, same sex wedding, lesbian wedding, lgbt wedding, lgbtq wedding, same sex marriage, Meat products have a larger carbon footprint per ounce than grain or vegetable products because of the inefficient transformation of plant energy to animal energy. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. Fortunately, there is a high correlation between foods that are good for our health and foods that are good for the climate and the environment in general! By cutting down on meat, even for 1 day a week, you can reduce your GHG emissions by a substantial amount.

How much water does it take to produce .45kg of food?
Beef = 6 992 litres
Lamb = 4 424 litres
Pork = 2 717 litres
Chicken = 1 961 litres
Eggs = 1 495 litres
Cheese = 1 422 litres
Butter = 2 517 litres
Milk = 462 litres
Almonds/Cashews = 7 302 litres

Tip of the Week: Composting
The decomposition of organics in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas that, according to the EPA, is 70 times more effective at trapping radiant heat than carbon dioxide. As a result, landfills have become the third largest source of human-caused greenhouse gases in the Canada and the US. In contrast, composting this material creates a valuable soil enhancer that replenishes depleted soils, protects against erosion, can replace synthetic fertilizers and helps retain water. Composting our organics protects air, water and soil quality.

Tip of the Week: Usage of Food – Learn Label Lingo
“Sell-by” or “use-by” dates don’t always mean “toss-by.” The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product in the store, but you can eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality. However, “if stored properly, most foods stay fresh several days longer than the use-by date, even meat,” says Fraser. “I’ve eaten plenty of foods past the date.” Of course, if you note any off odors, textures, or colors, don’t risk it. And you never want to use baby formula past its date. (For a handy food storage guide, check out stilltasty.com.)

Tip of the Week: Usage of Food – Rethink Quantity
Shop at the deli counter or in the bulk aisle so you can buy precisely what you need. Do you never finish that full pound of turkey? Ask for five slices instead. Want pumpkin seeds for a muffin recipe? Scoop out the exact quantity from a bin instead of buying a whole package that will go rancid in your pantry.
According to a 2009 study from the Bulk Is Green Council, you can save an average of 35 percent by just buying what you need.

Tip of the Week: Usage of Food – Take Smaller Portions
Before you dish out another restaurant-sized portion at home, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate (or, for that matter, if you should). Since it’s unlikely you’ll save that piece of nibbled-on casserole, stick to smaller portions; you can always get seconds.

Tip of the Week: Usage of Food – Plan ahead
You had high hopes for that ratatouille made from scratch — but then a late night at the office foils your good intentions. “The reality is, life happens, and we want a 10-minute meal,” French says.
So before you hit the store, look at the calendar and develop a weekly menu around your schedule, flagging days you’re more likely to be able to cook. Plan three or four days to make recipes and two to eat leftovers; reserve one or two “free” days for impromptu events, like dinner with friends.

Tip of the Week: Usage of Food – Reorganize the Fridge
Keep an orderly fridge, and you won’t push ingredients to the back and forget them. “Knowing what you have is more important than you think,” Bloom says.
In addition to cleaning out the fridge once a week, keep leftovers as well as odds and ends (half-eaten onions or sweet potatoes) in sight. Bloom stores them in clear plastic containers and then places them in the front upside down, since “it’s easier to see the contents.”

Tip of the Week: Usage of Food – Watch your Trash
For one week, take note of what’s in your trash. Don’t just look at it, but analyze everything that goes in the bin or down the disposal. (If you’re really serious, you might jot down your observations in a notebook.) Then adjust your habits. If you threw away half a box of stale cereal, either buy a smaller box or store cereal in an airtight container immediately after opening. If week-old leftovers are still taking up real estate, prepare less next time or make a more conscious effort to eat the remainder (for instance, pack it in your lunch bag and leave a note reminding yourself to take it to work).
“When you pinpoint why and what you toss, you can make changes to your behavior,” says Jonathan Bloom of wastedfood.com.

In 2011 the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga (UCM) partnered with Credit Valley Conservation through the GreeninCorporate Grounds program. The goals of the UCM initiative are to:

  • Remove invasive plants
  • Naturalize with native plants
  • Reduce use of water
  • Provide habitat for birds, insects (bees, butterflies) and small mammals
  • Create natural barriers to reduce noise
  • Add a ‘rain garden” to catch and filter water run-off from the property
  • Add to the urban forest in Mississauga

Native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants have been generously planted on the major berm, in the rain garden and around the side and front of the property. The plantings have created a beautiful physical barrier around the property line, replacing views of traffic and the parking areas with a colourful screen of native trees and shrubs. These provide a home for a variety of birds which add to the beauty and tranquility of the grounds.

Habitat has been created for song and ground birds, small mammals and, most importantly, to bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Monarch butterflies are found each fall sharing the New England asters with bees.

A “rain garden” or bio-retention cell in the parking lot collects runoff from the property. Plants and soil filter out pollutants so cleaner water flows into Lake Ontario, our drinking source.   This natural element offers an eye-catching view from our many windows in the Great Hall.

Funding for this initiative has come from donations from UCM members and friends, and two grants from TD Canada Trust Friends of the Environment. Donations of plant materials have come from Green Horizons David Suzuki Foundation and Credit Valley Conservation.   Canada Summer Jobs provided wage subsidies for two part-time student projects.

Volunteers are the backbone of the project. Over 60 volunteers have contributed to preparation, planting and maintenance of the Greening Initiative. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are involved and every contribution is appreciated.

For more information contact Michael Wheeler at mjtwheeler@hotmail.com

Check out our Calendar

The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga acknowledges that we are on the traditional lands of the Mississauga of the New Credit Nation.

We are walking with all who are on the journey towards truth, justice, healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. We welcome the opportunity to learn from those who have been on this path a long time, as well as others who have joined it more recently. We believe we are part of a wider learning community.

Some of our past events include participating in the Kairos Blanket exercise,   and learning about the intergenerational impacts of colonialism from Darren Thomas ,  a member of the Seneca Nation and university professor.

There are a number of exciting programs on reconciliation.

Check out our Calendar

TESTIMONIALS

  • UCM is a diverse and multicultural community of individuals ‘who are guided by compassion, reason and love on an individual search for truth and meaning’. “we collaboratively try to make sense of the world around us”

    David Armani
  • For Marc, Unitarian Universalism aligned much more closely with his views on life than the Catholicism of his youth, and gave him a community of people with whom to struggle with how to act justly in the world.

    Marc Xuereb
  • I love the great variety of people and opinions that can be found at UCM. I love that it's a safe space to engage in dialogue about things you might steer away from other places...

    Kristen

 

 

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

COMING EVENTS

17Jun

Yoga

Monday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
18Jun

Book Club: Planning for the Fall

Tuesday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
20Jun

Earth Spirit Ritual Group

Thursday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
23Jun

Sunday Service: Salon Service

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Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga

84 South Service Road
Mississauga, ON
905-278-5622
info@uucm.ca