Combine bulbs and social justice in your community

Why not purchase some of the these bulbs in bulk from ShopIPL and distribute them through your food pantries to clients who have to pay their own utility bills? Often your clients are unable to purchase these initially higher-cost bulbs, and they then end up paying higher utility costs by using incandescent bulbs. Distributing CFLs not only has environmental benefits, but also helps your clients directly.

If you don’t have the funds to purchase the bulbs directly for distribution, another option is to purchase these bulbs to sell to your congregation’s members at a slight mark-up and then use the profits to purchase the bulbs for food pantry distribution.

Either way, have a few lamps on hand to show people how they are installed and how they work. Point out that they should not use them in dimmable lamps, and that the most benefit occurs when they install them in frequently used lamps.

Habitat for Humanity … and energy efficiency

Don’t saddle the new owners of your Habitat House with unnecessary utility bills for decades. Build in energy efficiency from the start.

  • Participate in Environmental Initiative: This program promotes energy-efficient, environmentally friendly construction, encouraging good stewardship of natural resources and raising awareness of the environmental impact of house building.
  • Become a Green Team champion at your own local Habitat affiliate: You’ll receive a Green Team Playbook, newsletters and fact sheets full of useful information to share with your affiliate’s construction staff.
  • Contact NYSERDA for more ideas about how you can make sure that your new Habitat housing is energy efficient and will be as inexpensive as possible for the new owners through the years. Design energy savings into the new home before the work begins.

Change lives with the sun

Solar Ovens

Looking for an affordable mission project that will improve the economics and health of people in the developing world as well as the environment? Consider solar ovens!

To cook our food, we just flick a switch on our stove or throw it in the microwave, all for just a few cents’ worth of electricity or gas. It’s easy to forget what a blessing this is.

But did you know that many people in the developing world spend hours each day searching for firewood for cooking? That many people spend a huge percentage of their meager income for charcoal? That many people cook in unventilated areas that cause health problems, especially for women and children? That many countries in the developing world are losing their forests because of the need for wood for cooking – thus leading to many environmental problems for those countries and for the world?

It’s very unfortunate that these problems exist, but it’s especially appalling that simple solutions exist but aren’t being used. One of the best solutions to these problems is the use of solar ovens. Much of the developing world is in areas where solar energy is abundant. Why not consider supporting one of the solar oven projects as a mission project? Providing these ovens, some of which can be made for just $10 worth of materials, can truly be life-changing for people in these areas. An additional benefit is that they also can be used to sterilize water.

Here’s the info on a variety of projects. Some projects focus on solar ovens for families, some on community ovens, and some on micro-enterprise projects that help women start small bakeries. All are exciting uses of God’s gift of solar energy!

Here are some resources:

Efficient Wood Stoves

Solar ovens are the least energy-intensive stoves, but cultural considerations sometimes make them less attractive for now. An alternative is to provide efficient wood cook stoves that reduce the amount of wood needed and also reduce indoor air pollution.

Here’s what the Church of the Brethren found in Guatemala:

Twice daily people need hot food early in the morning before the sun is up and late at night when it’s down. Lunch is often precooked for those working in the fields, and what is cooked needs a hot plate and not an oven. But solar parabolic dome cookers designed as hot plates are more technically difficult and five to ten times the cost. Tortillas are the primary staple food and can only be cooked on a hot plate so a fire is started regardless of a solar oven or not. People with solar ovens still used almost the same amount of wood because they needed to build a fire for tortillas. Thus, the Church of the Brethren project decided to focus on fuel-efficient wood stoves that can cut fuel consumption by 1/2 to 3/4. In an ideal world a family would benefit by having both a fuel-efficient wood cook stove and a solar oven – the solar oven to primarily cook the beans and purify drinking water. For now in Guatemala, if it were possible to have only one stove, choosing a wood cook stove ended up saving more fire wood.

Each year, this Church of the Brethren project is helping 500 families build wood-conserving, lung-saving stoves for their homes as part of their Global Food Crisis campaign. The $25 they contribute is matched by the family, and soon their health is improving as well as the health of surrounding forests.