We were recently delighted to learn that St. Mary’s church has been confirmed as a Bronze Award winner under the A Rocha Eco Church scheme. This is a Christian charity with a remit to mobilise Christians and Churches to care for the environment. https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/
Looking forward to 2021, there are positive things that could be done to improve our eco-credentials still further, and potentially to earn a Silver Award. Here are a few ideas that we would encourage everyone at Church and the wider community in Ash Vale to consider:
· When Covid restrictions are finally lifted and services in Church resume (yes it will happen one day!), why not try walking, cycling or car sharing to get to Church?
· Consider how you could reduce waste by making small changes to your lifestyle in line with the principles of “reduce”, “re-use” and “recycle”.
· Take the time to check the source of items in your shopping trolley and commit to increase your use of Fairtrade & ethically sourced goods.
· If you are thinking of replacing your car next year, have a look at the new options for cleaner electric or hybrid vehicles.
· Calculate your personal/household carbon footprint using one of the available online tools (e.g. www.carbonfootprint.com).
· Commit to offset your own carbon footprint by making a donation to one of many environmental projects, such as the tree nurseries being set up by Amaha We Uganda (www.amahaweuganda.org).
The national Church has a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. St.Mary’s carbon footprint has recently been calculated and a baseline has been set or 2018 which was 22.66 tCO2. Of this, 16.94 tCO2 is attributable to gas and electricity usage, based on actual meter readings. The remainder is due to a range of factors including car use by people attending church services, food served in church and use of paper, etc. These contributions are hard to capture precisely but have been estimated using information from St. Mary’s Annual Report. As some improvements were made to the heating system at the end of 2018, and 2019 was a warm year, encouragingly, we have seen an improvement. 2019 has been calculated at 18.02 tCO2, of which 11.46 tCO2 is attributable to gas and electricity use.
I was recently asked how many trees would need to be planted to offset our carbon footprint. Not knowing the answer, I reckoned a quick online search would yield the required information but as is often the case, it proved to be a little more complicated. First, I discovered the amount of CO2 absorbed by a tree depends on multiple factors such as species, climate, rainfall and elevation, and secondly opinions vary on the number of years that should be used in calculations. After reviewing several references I am assuming 8kg/year for a “typical” tree over 20 years, one tree will offset 160kg of CO2, and six trees will offset 1 tonne (tCO2). For St.Mary’s church, this gives a target of 108 trees to offset our 2019 carbon footprint.
Let’s work together on this on our journey towards a Carbon Neutral future.
By Lesley Murphy