For Our Earth Home

Unity Earth Care is a ministry at USCW with a twofold purpose:

  • to help out fellow congregants, to inform and inspire you to take positive ecological actions in your everyday lives.
  • To be a force for positive change in our church, to identify and champion ways to implement environmental “best practices” within all aspects of our church operations.
Unity Earth Care

Unity Earth Care Team

December 19 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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Unity EarthCare recognizes the sacredness of creation and provides the bridge to loving care for creation as a foundation for everyday living on Earth. Unity EarthCare is a spiritual social action program of Unity Worldwide Ministries.  unity EarthCare at USCW is certified by the Worldwide International team. Unity EarthCare is run by a dedicated team of volunteers.  Our activities include:

  • Teaching the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

  • Running a recycling center

  • Publishing a “Tip of the month”

  • Presenting an annual Earth Day service

  • Showing earth care related, motivational films

  • And much more…

Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock proudly declares our spiritual connection with our Earth home and all of creation.

This Covenant is a tangible affirmation of our sacred commitment to an ecological foundation that informs our organizational and personal actions. Our commitment is grounded in the Unity movement’s five principles; our Center’s vision, mission and core values; and the long philosophy of spiritual devotion for nature that started with Unity cofounders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.

Our commitment is further grounded in the Biblical call for humankind to be eternally responsible stewards of creation, and in the imperatives to use all twelve powers in taking positive actions today so that there may be future generations.

We envision a world in which everything has intrinsic value and where all beings are assured a secure and meaningful life that is ecologically responsible and sustainable. We create this world through the fullest engagement of our souls, minds and bodies.

We declare our covenant with God to walk upon the Earth for the greatest good of all creation.

As a service to congregants, we accept the following materials in the denoted containers for recycling

  • Giant batteries: Any type of battery
  • Giant shoe: Any type of shoe, boot or sandal; not limited to just “gym shoes”
  • Fabric unit with pull-out drawers: Audio/Visual media; each drawer is labeled for audio CDs, DVDs, audio cassettes and VHS video cassettes
  • Green bin: Inkjet Cartridges (but no toner cartridges)

Note: Inkjet cartridges are sent to the Planet Green program, a fundraiser for Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock. Planet Green formerly also accepted a number of types of small electronic items, but no longer does. We can no longer accept those for recycling.

Additionally, there are blue recycling bins in our building. A large one is in the Fellowship area, just to the left of the coffee serving table. It’s next to a trash can; please carefully put only accepted materials in the recycling bin and all else in the trash.

The following materials are appropriate for the blue bins for the City of Woodstock recycling curbside program contracted through MDC Environmental Services, Inc.:


  • Recyclable plastic products are identifiable by the three-arrow triangle surrounding a number and the plastic type abbreviation.
  • Look for these: #1 PETE, #2 HDPE, #3 PVC or Vinyl, #4 LDPE, #5 PP
  • Some examples: Peanut butter jars, ketchup/salad dressing bottles, yogurt tubs and milk jugs.

Other Food Containers

  • Glass jars and bottles (without the lids)
  • Aluminum and Steel Containers
  • Some examples: Aluminum cans, steel cans (most canned foods), foil and pie plates.
  • Also: Tetra packs (juice boxes) and milk/juice cartons

Paper and Cardboard

  • Paper: Some examples include printer and other plain paper, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, slick advertisements, envelopes (including windowed)
  • Cardboard: Some examples include frozen food boxes, paperboard carrying boxes for soda and beer, cereal and other dry food boxes, notepad backs, paper towels and toilet paper cores, and corrugated boxes flattened into pieces that are no larger than 2×2 feet (no food contamination allowed).
Unity Worldwide Ministries Earth Care
McHenry County Green Guide

Tip of the Month

Unity EarthCare gives you a Tip of the Month, tangible small actions you can take to green up your personal life.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the MonthTurkey

November, 2021

Have a Green Thanksgiving!

  • Did you know that our beloved holiday of Thanksgiving can also produce a lot of wasted food? Consider that a typical American Thanksgiving week
    • Two million pounds of Turkey get thrown out!
    • Only 6.3% of food waste gets composted (see our past tips on composting).
    • The carbon footprint is about equal to 800 thousand cars driving from California to Florida.
  • Some ideas on reducing food waste:
    • Coordinate with attendees to avoid too much food. If you have guests contributing dishes to the feast, keep tabs on what everyone’s bringing so you can plan accordingly and avoid making too much food — or duplicating a guest’s dish. Leave dishes that are proven duds off the menu.
    • Make a green Thanksgiving a group effort. Engage your family and friends in a quest for a more sustainable holiday.
    • Challenge guests to eat everything on their plates to cut down on wasted food. And make sure everyone knows where the recycling and compost bins
    • Make things from scratch when possible.
    • Around 83 percentof greenhouse gas emissions from food come from its production. The less prepared and packaged food you buy, the lower your carbon footprint. Buy local!
    • Choose recipes that will use up leftover ingredients. If one recipe calls for a half container of broth, find another recipe that will use the rest — it could be something you’ll make a few days later.
    • Go organic.
  • Most importantly, be sure to give thanks for all the good in your life. Be grateful that we can gather together with family members this year, unlike 2020 (with COVID surging and no vaccines yet).

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

October, 2021Greenpumpkin youth ministry

Have a green Halloween!

Halloween is typically a wasteful event, environmentally. Let’s change that! Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Decorations: Gather supplies, arts and crafts. Examples include:
    • Turn stockings with runs into spider-webbing
    • Paint foam peanuts (packing materials) and turn them into worms
    • Clean Styrofoam and make Halloween masks
    • Turn cardboard boxes into tombstones
    • Make other creative decorations from netting from bags of oranges, cotton balls, leaves and branches from the yard, etc.
    • Reuse your decorations from the previous year
  • Costumes: Make your own!
    • Keep old clothes that can be used as good pieces or parts of costumes, like worn t-shirts, black pants/shorts, etc.
    • If necessary, shop at thrift shops, consignment stores and yard sales, instead of buying retailOctpumpkin youth ministry
    • Let your kids’ imaginations run wild! Make a game of turning old clothes into costumes.
  • And more:
    • When having a party, cut down on waste by avoiding disposable cups, plates and cutlery. Use regular dishes or buy biodegradable ones, and use a marker (or apply cute labels) to identify cups so party-goers can keep track of theirs.
    • Buy locally produced foods, candies and treats. Look for goodies with minimal packaging and/or those made packaged in recycled materials.
    • Check labels to see that chocolate and sugar are from sustainable sources.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

September, 2021Autumnequinox youth ministry

Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

On Wednesday, September 22 at 2:20 pm, Central Time, the Autumnal Equinox occurs.

  • Summer gives way to Fall here in the northern hemisphere.
  • The equinox is the point in time that the sun crosses the celestial equator. It is an astronomical event that happens simultaneously across the globe but is converted to local time.
  • Our lives are lived based on the seasons, so each equinox and solstice is a cause to celebrate.
  • At the exact moment of the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator before continuing its journey south or north, depending on the time of year.
  • This also explains why the equinox is celebrated as a day of balance – day and night are about the same lengths.

Here are some ways to celebrate the autumnal equinox:

  • Make a gratitude list. Gratitude brings abundance.
  • Restore balance. Do a fall deep cleaning or use the power of rhythm and routines to help you get organized.
  • Make fall crafts and create fall art.
  • Visit a local farm or go to a harvest festival.
  • Eat a fall harvest meal, perhaps with corn, squash, zucchini, apples, pumpkins, etc.
  • Add fall décor to your home.

And speaking of celebrations, this month marks the 50th Tip of the Month since the feature began in 2017!

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

August, 2021

Use air conditioning wiselyThermastat youth ministry

As summer continues, now is a good time to think about air conditioning,

  • It may almost seem heretical for an environmental tip to seemingly “endorse” air conditioning, but it is not realistic to rail against any and all use of air conditioning.
  • We live in a region of the country that can not only get very hot during much of the summer, but humid as well.
  • Additionally, air conditioning helps filter out pollutants and provides a healthier indoor air quality.
  • Many people with medical conditions need air-conditioned air in order to breathe easily.
  • With climate change, we are in a warming world. No one disputes the use of central heating to stay warm during winter, and it’s just as important to stay cool during summer. Virtually every house built in the past 60 years has central air. Europe, which traditionally has eschewed air conditioning, has felt the effects of global warming and is starting to install air conditioning in structures.

But use it wisely, not wastefully.

  • Manandfan youth ministryDon’t blast arctic cold air throughout your house.
    • Keep the thermostat set to as high a temperature as you can stand.
    • Keep your house insulated so you use air conditioning efficiently.
    • If there are rooms of your house that are rarely used, consider closing off the registers in those rooms so you don’t waste electricity on them.
    • And keep doors and windows closed.
  • Consider using ceiling fans and window fans. Even in conjunction with air conditioning, using fans to blow the air around makes it seem cooler, so you can use a higher thermostat setting and still be comfortable.

When buying a new air conditioning unit, look for the most energy efficient that you can afford.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

July, 2021

Combine trips when you drive

This is an oldie but goodie piece of advicePicture youth ministry

  • Here in McHenry County, it is a veritable necessity to have a car or two (including other forms of personal motor vehicles: SUVs, Mini-Vans, full size vans, small trucks – you name it).
  • Almost all shopping, restaurants, recreation, visiting, schools, personal business, churchgoing, etc., is far enough away from home to require a motor vehicle trip.
  • If you plan on driving to two or more locations that are close to each other, it is better to combine your business and do it in one trip, if possible, rather than setting out on two separate trips.

It saves you fuel and therefore moneyPicture youth ministry

  • According to the United States Department of Energy, your fuel economy is worse when your engine is cold than when it is warmed up.
  • So, several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip covering the same distance.
  • Trip planning can reduce the amount of time you drive with a cold engine.
  • Monetary savings of course vary based on your individual situation and the cost gas, with annual estimates ranging from $250 to $750 . . . here in the exurbs, the savings are probably on the higher side (think: combining trips between, e.g., Woodstock and Crystal Lake, etc.).
  • Even plug-in hybrid and fully electric cars can save you money on electricity when you combine trips.
  • Beyond the everyday, think creatively, possibly combining business and vacation trips.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

June, 2021

You can recycle cardboard tubes.

With recent changes in curbside recycling guidelines, some people ask if cardboard tubes are acceptablePapertowelroll youth ministry

  • These are the core tubes left over when you finish a roll of paper towels or toilet paper.
  • Because recyclers request that you flatten cardboard boxes before putting them into your curbside recycling container, it’s not intuitive what to do with cardboard tubes.

Good news – they are acceptablePapertowelrollcrushed youth ministry

  • But first, please crush them as flat as possible.
  • One way to do that is to put them in an open box or bin and then crush them with your feet. If you have kids, they would love to help with this!
  • Stiffer cardboard tubes, found in the core of other household products, such as alumni foil, wax paper, plastic wrap and parchment paper, are also accepted in your recycling. These are difficult to crush, but will break down later during the recycling process.

Other uses for leftover cardboard tubes existPapertowelrolltoy youth ministry

  • There are practical household uses and many craft activities that you can do with these tubes.

Mcc Conservation youth ministry

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

May, 2021

Celebrate this year’s 50th Anniversary of the McHenry County Conservation District, by planning to visit one or more sites.

The McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) is now 50 years old.

  • The people of McHenry County passed a county-wide referendum in April of 1971.
  • MCCD was then formally organized in July 1971.
  • The founders envisioned a public agency that would preserve and protect the land and the water they loved and lived on, while promoting a way of life they cherished, and establishing a place that could be shared with the wildlife around them.
  • In these 50 years, MCCD has secured and protected more than 25,600 acres, diverse with woodlands, wetlands, prairies, creeks and rivers that afford habitat for a wide array of plant and animal species, as well as numerous endangered and threated species.

The Conservation District has also created numerous recreational opportunities for we, the McHenry County taxpayers, to use and enjoy.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

April 2021

Do not place paper shreds in your recyclingPicture youth ministry

Previously (March, 2019 Tip of the Month), we advised that an acceptable way to recycle paper shreds was to put into a paper bag (tightly closed), and then place that bag into your recycling. At that time, it was true. Unfortunately, the local waste haulers who pick up your curbside recycling have changed their protocol. They no longer can accept the shreds that come out of your paper shredder, in any form.

This is another change from past advice, based on updated recommendations from the professionals. With the single-stream processing (i.e., different materials mixed rather than separated by you) of household recyclables, some compromises have to be made to avoid jamming the sorting machines.

So now what to do with confidential or sensitive documents?

Picture youth ministry

  • Here again are some of the other ideas that were in the original tip:
  • Hold on to the documents in a secure location in your home until you can bring them to a professional “shredding event,” sponsored from time to time by banks or government officials. These are held for free as a public service. You will find a truck with a large shredder and may even see your documents shredded.
  • If you prefer to use your personal shredder, put paper shreds into your compost!
  • Use as pet bedding. If you don’t have a pet, consider donating shreds to a local animal shelter.Picture youth ministry
  • Use as packing material for moving or shipping.
  • Search online and you’ll find a variety of craft activities using paper shreds.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

March, 2021Coffeefilterswhite youth ministry

Avoid using bleached coffee filters

Many of us need that first cup of coffee to get going in the morning. While there are various ways to make coffee, a full pot of steaming hot fresh coffee is a delight to the senses. A “drip” style coffeemaker is a classic way to produce the “life giving fluid” that many of us drink for sustenance.

  • Coffeefilters youth ministryCoffee grounds need to be retained in a filter. The most popular filters are paper.
    • If the paper filter color is a bright white, most likely there was bleaching used during the manufacturing process.
    • If the paper filter color is a beige or brown, most likely, these were not These would be a better choice than the bleached.
    • Some coffeemakers come with a reusable filter, or you can purchase one. This is the best choice.
  • What’s wrong with bleached paper coffee filters?
    • In many cases, the bleaching process uses chlorine, and the chemical reaction produces dioxins. In some cases, filter paper is bleached using oxygen. This is a safer process than chlorine, but is still an additional and unnecessary processing step, using energy.
    • Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals, linked to cancers and other illnesses including birth defects and immune deficiencies.Coffeebasket youth ministry
    • Dioxins contaminate groundwater and air. Dioxins enter the environment in pulp and paper mill waste water. They are also created in PCB transformer fires and municipal incinerators and can be found in some wood preservatives and a few other sources. Once in the environment, the dioxins work their way up the food chain, accumulating in the fatty tissues of carnivores such as crabs, trout, herons . . . and humans.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the MonthPlastic youth ministry

February, 2021

There are changes to curbside recycling guidelines! Local governments, waste haulers and recycling materials processors are requesting that we change some habits in what and how we place items into the bins for curbside pickup.

For this month, we’ll focus on plastics, with other updates to be sprinkled into Tips of the Month throughout the year of 2021.

  • Keep plastic lids on plastic containers when putting into your recycling
    • Previously we advised to place an empty plastic container into the recycling without the lid attached.
    • If the lid was large, e.g., mayonnaise, sour cream, cottage cheese, bulk yogurt, etc., we would throw the lid in separately. Now, please put the lid back on first.
    • If the lid was small, e.g., soda bottles, salad dressings, etc., we would dispose of the lid into garbage because they’re too small for the sorting machines. Coffeemate youth ministry Now, these lids too can be recycled but only if attached to the original container.
    • This new guideline even applies when the container and its lid are both plastic, but clearly made from different kinds of plastic – one soft and one solid.
    • Think of the aforementioned soda bottles, as well as coffee creamers, grated parmesan cheese cannisters, etc. It’s counterintuitive to us veteran recyclers, but it’s what the processors want now.

Thank you for your flexibility!

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

January 2021

Dispose of used facemasks mindfully

We are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore wearing face coverings when away from home (shopping, etc.). Some facemasks are intended for single use, while others are intended for using multiple times. But even good cloth

masks may eventually wear out and require disposal.

  • One small action to take before disposing a face mask:
    • Use scissors to cut through the ear straps.
    • This is to prevent wildlife from becoming entangled by the small loops created by uncut mask ear straps.
    • It’s much like cutting through plastic six-pack aluminum can rings.
  • Can facemasks be recycled?
    • Unfortunately, single-use masks are considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are assumed to be contaminated.
    • In concept, cloth apparel can be recycled. But even cloth m asks need care, because they too would be considered potentially hazardous to recycling facility staff. And textile recycling is still very rare, so most likely you’ll have to discard them when they’re no longer usable. Be sure to cut through the ear straps!
  • The birdies and their friends thank you!

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

December, 2020

Give the gift of less stuff

We neither can or should avoid all material goods – stuff. We do need some stuff to live our lives. For this Christmas especially, let’s see if we can cut back a bit on the amount of stuff we buy to give as gifts. This is the second of two monthly tips to encourage a more ecological approach to gift giving as we approach the end of 2020. In November, we encouraged you to Shop Local!

This month, we look at gift possibilities that use less stuff.

  • Why reduce physical stuff?
  • Lower the harmful impact of the chemical emissions involved in the manufacturing and shipping of physical gifts.
  • Studies have shown that people value experiences over material objects.

As our family holiday gatherings will likely be smaller and more “virtual” during this continuing pandemic, you just may be looking for alternatives to hauling bagful’s of wrapped gifts. And speaking of “virtual,” consider:

  • Donate to a worthy charitable organization. Some ecological organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund or the Sierra Club, give you the opportunity to “adopt” an endangered or other animal species. And while it may violate a strict “no stuff” policy, it’s okay with our “less stuff” tip to have a stuffed animal sent to the recipient – perhaps a child.
  • A gift certificate for an experience. Perhaps your loved one would enjoy a massage or wine tasting.
  • Give the gift of a class. Many folks would appreciate learning yoga, composting, Zentangle, vegan cooking or much more. Some classes are even offered online; no need to venture out in our future post-pandemic times.
  • Give of your time and talent. Use your skills to craft something or build a garden. The possibilities are endless.