• 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.
  • 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.:

Plastics

  • 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).

SPIRITUAL CARE

For Our Earth Home

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 Earth Care Recycling youth ministry

Drop off your recycling items on Sunday morning from 11:00 – 12:00

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 Month

June, 2024

Be Aware of What You Eat

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.”

This month is the sixth of twelve tips.
Some mindful food choices.

A reminder:

In the May Tip of the Month, we emphasized that every individual is different, and due to such factors as ethnicity, food allergies and sensitivities, and medical conditions, it is impossible to prescribe a single exact diet that is perfect for everyone. With that caveat, there are still a number of mindful eating nutritional principles that are applicable for most people most of the time. We’ll start looking at them with this and subsequent months’ tips.

What to eat:

  • In general, we should mainly eat a variety of whole grains, legumes, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, with judicious additions mindfully selected.
  • So many questions! You may be thinking: what is a “whole” grain; what is a legume; should I seek out “organic” products; wait, where’s the beef – do I have to eat 100% plant-based foods; what about dessert?
  • We’ll defer some of these questions to upcoming months while starting to answer some here and now.
Whole grains:
  • Familiar grains include wheat (caution, wheat contains gluten), rice, oats, barley, quinoa, rye, corn (yes, corn is a grain, not a vegetable), millet, buckwheat and bulgur.
  • A whole grain contains the endosperm, germ, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. The germ and bran contain fiber and other beneficial nutrients. As part of a general healthy diet, consumption of whole grains is associated with lower risk of several diseases.
  • Insist on whole grain products in cereals, flour, baked goods, pasta and all other grain-based groceries.
  • Look for “100% whole wheat” (or “100% whole grain”). Ignore refined wheat products that may say “multi-grain” or some such promotional language that does not denote an actual whole grain product.
  • “Brown rice” is whole-grain. “Rice” generally denotes refined white rice, which is best avoided.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

May, 2024

Be Aware of What You Eat

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.”

Tips will cover the full spectrum of what that means, including:

  • The relative environmental impacts of different foods
  • The personal environment of nutritional wisdom
  • The psychological environment of eating. And much more!

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.” This month is the fifth of twelve tips.

Learn about your optimal food choices.

Everyone is different!

  • As convenient as it would be to prescribe a single diet that would be optimal for everyone’s health, that is impossible. There are factors which make each of us unique. The medical field observes a phenomenon called “biochemical individuality.” There are some people whose heart is on the right side of their body!
  • With optimal food choices, there are many reasons why yours may be different from someone else’s. some reasons include ethnicity (some ethnic types cannot tolerate certain foods); food allergies and sensitivities (such as some people are unable to digest wheat gluten) and random DNA variations. Also, there are medical conditions (temporary from an illness or long-term congenital issue) that impact the body’s ability to metabolize specific foods.
  • Pay attention to your body, that is, be mindful of how different foods affect you. If a specific food always has an adverse impact on you, consider dropping it from your diet, even if it’s a favorite food. (And bring this to the attention of your primary care health practitioner.)

Why do radically different diets seem to work for some people?

  • Every day we hear about some new or rediscovered diet, e.g., Atkins, keto, “all meat” (!), and many more. None of these will work for all people; some are considered scientifically invalid.
  • But each of these seems to work for some people, specifically because of each person’s biochemical identity and metabolism. Keep in mind, those are the exceptions. 
  • We’ll look at general mindful eating nutritional principles fit for most people, in upcoming tips.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

April, 2024

Be Aware of What You Eat

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.”

Tips will cover the full spectrum of what that means, including:

  • The relative environmental impacts of different foods
  • The personal environment of nutritional wisdom
  • The psychological environment of eating. And much more!

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.” This month is the fourth of twelve tips.

Observe how your body and mind react to eating more mindfully.

How your mind may react

It is important to recognize that everyone is different, and your path toward mindful eating may vary from that of other mindful eaters. 

  • This is normal, and you should not compare yourself.
  • It is also normal to have both “successes” and “failures.”
  • Your successes may make you feel better about yourself, more empowered, and help lead to further successes as you continue on your path.
  • You may find yourself successfully engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors of food.
  • Everyone has what they consider to be “failures” or backsliding. You may at times suddenly realize that you have been throwing unhealthy snacks into your mouth without thinking. You may even feel some guilt. That’s okay, because now you have become aware of your eating. Simply acknowledge your feelings. 

How your body may react

It takes time for not just your mind but also your body to overcome what may be a lifetime of habitually eating without thinking about it. 

  • When you mindfully resist the impulse to eat the old way, you will likely feel hunger pangs. Remind yourself, that all positive changes require some work, and use your willpower to get past it. Luckily, you’ll find over time that these hunger pangs go away.
  • On the positive side, you may find yourself gradually losing weight. Use this as further inspiration.

Other changes

You will learn more about yourself and may find mindfulness creeping into other facets of your life. And a key change will be that you learn more about different foods. Upcoming tips will explore this world.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

March, 2024

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.”

Start to eat mindfully

This is where the proverbial “rubber hits the road.” Our leadoff tip in January asked you simply to “be aware of what you eat.” The February tip added an awareness of not just what but also why and when you eat, and introduced the concept of mindfulness. Now we will ask you to start to eat mindfully.

Eat at meals. 

  • Generally, we plan our meals in advance (perhaps tied to a grocery shopping list) or mainly rotate through familiar breakfast, lunch and dinner choices.
  • You probably already know which are healthier and which aren’t.
  • Awareness – Mindfulness – is the key, so focus on the healthier meals.

Be very careful about eating between meals. 

  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Try not to eat because you’re bored or emotionally upset. These are when we humans tend to eat the least mindfully and least healthfully. 
  • Bored? Read instead. Emotionally upset? Practice deep breathing. At a minimum, at least try to do these.

What really is “Mindful Eating?”

  • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
  • Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment. 
  • Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.

(These principles of mindfulness are courtesy of The Center for Mindful Eating https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/)

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

February, 2024

Be Aware of What You Eat

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.”

Tips will cover the full spectrum of what that means, including:

  • The relative environmental impacts of different foods
  • The personal environment of nutritional wisdom
  • The psychological environment of eating. And much more!

This month is the second of twelve tips. Be aware of why and when you eat. Now we go deeper to ask you to develop an awareness of not just what but additionally why and when you eat.

Eating is mandatory.

  • At the risk of stating the obvious, we all must eat in order to survive.
  • Our bodies are incredible machines capable of ingesting what we call “food” and turning the proteins, carbs, enzymes, fats and micronutrients into healthy, functioning humans.

What we eat is a choice. 

  • So is why we choose to eat what we eat, and when (under what circumstances) we eat.
  • We are accustomed to the three traditional meals of the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • We are accustomed to eating the foods we grew up with, especially when they are extended family customs or the traditional foods of our nationality or ethnic group.
  • Sometimes these norms get thrown off by busy schedules, shift work, peer pressure and more.
  • But (short of being put into restraints and force-fed) you are always in charge of what you eat.

Awareness and consciousness are the keys. Another term is mindfulness. So, what is mindfulness?

  • Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention, non-judgmentally.
  • Mindfulness encompasses both internal processes and external environments.
  • Mindfulness is being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically each moment.
  • With practice, mindfulness cultivates the possibility of freeing yourself of reactive, habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and acting.
  • Mindfulness promotes balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.

(These principles of mindfulness are courtesy of The Center for Mindful Eating https://www.thecenterformindfuleating.org/)

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

January, 2024

Be Aware of What You Eat

For the year 2024, your Unity EarthCare team will present monthly tips centered on a single theme, “Mindful Eating.”

Tips will cover the full spectrum of what that means, including:

  • The relative environmental impacts of different foods
  • The personal environment of nutritional wisdom
  • The psychological environment of eating. And much more!

For January, simply be aware of what you eat.

  • No self-judgments, no blame, no shame.
  • Just awareness.
  • For “extra credit,” try identifying how you would ideally like to eat (what foods, how much, etc.) and then spend time in meditation over any gaps between your own “ideal” and actual food regimens.
  • Consider keeping a food journal.
  • Write down everything you eat. Yes, that includes the one M&M you just snuck into your mouth.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

December, 2023

Recycle your old Christmas lights
     Why recycle Christmas lights?
  • While it takes some extra effort for you to get Christmas lights into the right recycling stream, it’s worth it. The light strings contain plastic, glass, copper, and even lead, all of which can harm the environment. Please don’t throw them away; they will sit in a landfill for years.
  •  When used Christmas lights arrive in a facility that’s specially equipped to handle them, the metals and other materials can be reclaimed and reused. The facility breaks them down through smelting or shredding to recover raw commodities. These commodities are then used to create roofing and construction materials, piping, car batteries, other electronics, lead wheel weights, flatware, jewelry, and more.

    What to do with them?

  • In most cases, they should not go into your weekly curbside recycling. Most of the major home stores, such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware will accept used Christmas lights. (Check first with your intended specific store.)
  • Most of the major municipalities in our area will accept lights. Here are some examples:
    • Woodstock will accept lights during normal weekday business house at the City Hall, Police Department, Public Library and the Recreation Center.
    • Crystal Lake: The Park District will accept them at the Parks Services Garage, 305 Lakeshore Dr, at the bin located near the dumpsters. This is only for holiday lights; no garlands, wreaths, or live greens, and no household light bulbs.
    • McHenry has two locations for dropoff: The Municipal Center, 333 S. Green St, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm: and the Public Works Facility, 1415 Industrial Drive, 7:00 am – 3:30 pm. Both locations are Monday-Friday. Acceptable lights are mini-lights (Italian lights), C7 lights, C9 lights, rope lights, LED lights, extension cords, etc. All colors and lengths will be accepted.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

November, 2023

Check your house’s insulation

The best way to keep your house at comfortable temperatures year-round is to invest
  • With inadequate insulation, you need more heat (whether electric or the more widespread natural gas) during cooler weather and more cooling (air conditioning) during warmer weather.
  • That hurts you through higher utility bills – money you could use for better purposes.
  • And it hurts all of us when more fuel is needed to generate heating or cooling.
  • As we approach winter, remember that nearly all furnaces are run through fossil fuels, which lead to more harmful climate change as well as the toxic effects of the life cycle of fossil fuel extraction, transportation and burning.
There are many different kinds of insulation . . .
  • Most widely used are rolls of blankets or batts, made from fiberglass or other materials.
  • There are also spray-in forms of insulation.
. . . and there are many different parts of your house that could use insulation
  • To keep things simple, first focus on your attic and your walls.
  • The best way to start is with a home energy audit (look up professionals in your area or check with your utility companies for referrals) performed by a professional, who can identify where your house is losing heat (during these cooler months) and would benefit from increased insulation.
There’s more to home comfort than just insulation
  • Some of our past monthly tips have addressed other issues, such as optimal thermostat settings and keeping heat from escaping under the front doorway. We’ll continue to bring you other future tips to help maximize your comfort while minimizing your expenses and the environmental impact.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

October, 2023

Compost those pumpkins!

Pumpkins are the quintessential symbol of Halloween
  • Whether used for food or for decoration, pumpkins are everywhere.
  • In the United States, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced
    annually.
But after Halloween, don’t throw your pumpkins into the trash
  • Nearly 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills each year. In landfills, food waste like rotting pumpkins emits methane, a greenhouse gas capable of depleting the ozone layer and contributing to global warming.
  • Pumpkins can be easily added to a compost pile, even whole. But cutting or breaking the pumpkins up will help them decay faster, so they are ready to add rich nutrients to a spring garden or flowerbed. According to the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, adding this waste to a compost pile provides a controlled environment for the scraps to decompose into a biodiverse concoction perfect for healthy plant growth.
A great opportunity to compost pumpkins is coming
  • Maybe you don’t or can’t compost, or have a lot of big pumpkins. Bring them to the “Pumpkin Smash Recycling Event” on November 4, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM at McHenry County College (8900 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake). This is the same day as the annual Green Living Expo at MCC!
  • You can also place pumpkins in the yard waste bags provided by most curbside recycling companies.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

September, 2023

Learn about detergent sheets

  • Detergent sheets are a relatively new entry to household eco-products. What are they?
  • Detergent sheets are plastic-free sheets of concentrated laundry detergent whose ingredients are held
    together by a resin and dissolvable paper.
  • They go by different names, such as laundry sheets, detergent strips, detergent squares, etc.
  • They’re low-sudsing and dissolve in cold or hot water. They work well in high-efficiency washers.

What are the benefits of detergent sheets?

  • They do not contain as many polluting chemicals as typically seen in liquid, pod or powder detergents.
  • They generally use cardboard packaging, and because they are concentrated and without water, the package can be small. They’ll save space in your laundry room cabinet.
  • This leaves less of an environmental footprint than the plastic jugs that liquid detergent and plastic containers pods or packs come in.

The reduction in packaging is no small matter.

  • According to recent EPA data, 14.5 million tons of plastic containers and packaging were generated in a single year.
  • Plastic in general is highly problematic because they are manufactured from dwindling fossil fuels, produce pollution in their manufacturing process, and if thrown into landfills rather than recycled, take up much room, and leach chemicals.

What are the drawbacks of detergent sheets?

  • Because this is a product in its infancy, there are still some bugs to work out in terms of efficiency in removing all kinds of stains. Some brands perform well; others not so well.
  • Experiment! Try using different brands, and compare them to each other as well as to your normal laundry detergent.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

July, 2023

You can recycle metal can lids

This is another tip from our recycling expert, Kim Hankins, our guest speaker at the April 23 Earth Day service.  She is the Director of the Sustainability Center at McHenry County College.

The Tip of the Month for May explained the newest protocol for dealing with lids of recyclable containers, screw or pop them back on. This month we take it a step further.

Steel cans (sometimes termed “tin cans,” even though tin hasn’t been used in cans for a long time) all obviously come with metal lids that are attached and must be detached so you can empty the contents.

  • Some lids have pull tabs for easy opening; others still require the use of a can opener.
  • Once you’ve removed a can lid, you can’t reattach it, but you can still recycle it with the can.
  • Simply push the lid – carefully – into the empty can after rinsing off both the empty can and its lid, and then carefully place into whatever container you use for your in-process recyclables.
  • Alternatively, you can put the can and its lid into that container separately. While generally we are asked to avoid placing flat items into recycling, because the single-stream sorting recycling machinery uses lasers to look for 3-dimensional objects, steel can lids are sorted out through the use of powerful magnets.

*One warning: Be very careful with can lids. The edges are sharp and can cause nasty cuts!

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

June, 2023

Prepare cardboard for recycling

This is another tip from our recycling expert, Kim Hankins, our guest speaker at the April 23 Earth Day service. She is the Director of the Sustainability Center at McHenry County College.

All kinds of clean cardboard can go in your curbside recycling.

Chipboard is the kind of cardboard commonly used for food products and to package general household consumer products.

  • Frozen food boxes are acceptable now for curbside recycling. Previously they were not accepted due to the additional wax insulation used on these boxes.
  • It is important to flatten cardboard containers for recycling. As Kim Hankins said, “don’t recycle air.”

That means to actually open the box ends where they are attached, whether manually or using a tool. Don’t just stand on them to partially reduce their volume. (However, that is the accepted way to mostly flatten cardboard tubes from paper towels or toilet paper.

Corrugated cardboard is the heavier kind, the outer packaging on shipped parcels, such as your boxed mail order deliveries.

  • Again, flatten these empty boxes. It’s more difficult to detach the flaps, particularly if they’re glued or stapled. In most cases, shipping tape has been used, and a simple too like a box cutter, knife or scissors will cut through the tape.
  • Try your best to remove as much of any tape and attached labels as you can, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

May, 2023

Leave lids on containers you recycle

We at USCW were fortunate to have Kim Hankins, Director of the Sustainability Center at McHenry County College as our guest speaker at the April 23 Earth Day service. Kim’s expertise gave us much new and useful information. We’ll try to incorporate more of her highlights in upcoming Tips of the Month.

For all of our local waste haulers who pick up our curbside recycling, it is now considered acceptable and, in fact, preferred to include the lids on containers we recycle.

  • This includes all types of common plastic containers, both from food items, e.g., soda, water, juice, yogurt, sour cream, oils, coffee creamers, etc., and from non-food items, e.g., shampoo, lotions, medications, etc.
  • It may seem counterintuitive to combine different plastic types (essentially a hard lid on a soft container), but this is now preferred.
  • Even glass containers can be recycled with a metal lid screwed back on, e.g., jars from pickles, jams, etc. Also, with empty steel (“tin”) cans, you can fit the lid inside the can, carefully, as they’re sharp.
  • Of course, please be sure to rinse out each container and its respective lid reasonably well prior to reuniting them and relocating them to your recycled items storage.

What NOT to do with lids

  • Please continue to NOT recycle lids by themselves. The machinery that processes single-stream recycling (everything mixed together) cannot effectively identify and sort flat objects like lids. If you find yourself with a lid but can’t find its corresponding container, just toss that lid in your garbage.
  • Please do NOT bring lids by themselves to the USCW Unity EarthCare Recycling Center (in the back of Fellowship). We can only discard them into the garbage.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

April, 2023

Use a tankless water heater in place of your next hot water heater.

We’re all used to the standard cylindrical “hot water heater.”

So what’s wrong with a hot water heater?

  • To have hot water available on demand, the hot water heaters need to be large storage units which must constantly heat the water therein.
  • It requires energy and therefore costs you money to constantly heat up water. The energy is likely to come from environmentally unsound sources, such as the burning of fossil fuels.
  • And manufacturers are adding additional insulation to the newest generation of hot water heaters, making them take up even more space in your utility closet or basement.

How does a tankless water heater work?

  • This device is much smaller and might even be wall-mountable. 
  • It does not hold water. Cold water flows into the unit and is heated only when needed.

 When should I switch over?

  • As with any household appliance, it is best to hold on to your current hot water heater for the remainder of its lifetime, and consider replacing it with a tankless unit when the hot water heater is no longer operational. (To minimize transition time, do some research before that point.)
  • Also look into recycling the old hot water heater rather than simply placing out on the curb for ga age pickup. Ask the retailer of the tankless unit if they participate in a take-back program.
Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

March, 2023

Consider switching from dryer sheets to dryer balls

You may be in the habit of throwing a dryer sheet into your clothes dryer.

  • Dryer sheets do help reduce static electricity.
  • And dryer sheets might also seem to help in fabric softening or in adding a
    pleasant fragrance.

But there’s actually a downside to dryer sheets

  • Dryer sheets don’t actually make your clothes any softer, although it might feel that way. The sheets
    are coated with a chemical solution that transfers to your garments when heated up during the dry
    cycle. It’s the coating that goes on fabric that feels soft. Over time, that residue accumulates on your
    clothes.
  • They work by putting a film of lipids and fragrances on your garments, which builds up over time and
    can contribute to clothing and towels smelling musty or stale even after being washed and dried.
  • This chemical coating can affect the properties of certain fabrics. It can make towels less absorbent,
    make athletic gear less moisture-wicking, and reduce the flame resistance of some children’s
    sleepwear.
  • That film also builds up in your dryer, which will can affect the appliance’s effectiveness over time.

What to use instead?

  • Consider switching to a sustainable alternative to dryer sheets: Wool dryer balls. They bounce off of
    your clothes and linens, softening the fibers, and are considered a more sustainable
    option because they can be reused many times, up to a few years, depending on how
    often you do laundry.
  • Because wool balls cut down on drying time, your clothes aren’t being subjected to high
    temperatures for as long. This – in addition to the fact that they don’t leave a chemical
    residue – also makes them a better choice to preserve the longevity of your garments.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

November, 2022

  • Leave the leaves
    • Seriously – leaving the fallen leaves on the ground unraked may be the best option
    • But it’s not an “all or nothing.” As long as the leaves cover less than about 50% of your lawn area, you can leave them be (some experts recommend no more than about 25%).
    • Leaving at least some of the leaves in your yard has several advantages:
    • When the leaves break down where they fall, they return essential nutrients to the grass and soil. It’s free fertilizer!
    • Additionally, the coverage that the leaves provide preserves soil moisture and suppresses weeds.
    • And the leaves can be friendly to wildlife. Birds and insects such as butterflies and moths depend on the fallen leaves. Pupa takes up residence in the leaves during the winter, so raking them up means you won’t enjoy the butterflies that come later. Birds also raid the leaf litter to find food for their babies.
  • But, if the leaf coverage is over 50%, beware!
    • If there are so many leaves that they smother your grass, there is a risk of forming a mildewy mush that will smother your grass and keep it from growing back strong the next spring.
    • There’s also a chance of more turf damage from critters (voles, mice) in the spring.
  • So what’s a homeowner to do?
    • Use your mower to cut the leaves up into smaller pieces. The smaller the better for fertilizing.
    • If you compost, it’s okay to rake some leaves to throw into your composter with the grass clippings.
    • If your area has yard waste pickup, you can rake some leaves into those large paper bags.
    • Please do not use a noisy leaf blower to relocate your leaves into the street, neighbor’s house, etc.
    • And be sure to rake leaves off of driveways and sidewalks – wet leaves are a slippery hazard.

Wash your fruits and veggies more efficiently

Should you wash them?

    • That’s a question many of us ask with a vegetable, herb or fruit – whether plucked from your garden or bought at a store. Is it so important to wash something that may look pristine? Isn’t it a waste of water? Let’s consider…

The experts say yes, wash your produce,

    • If organically grown at home, there may be some residual dirt or other contaminants. And if you did happen to use chemicals (no judgments!), they need to be washed off.
    • Store-bought produce (organic or not) absolutely should be washed.
    • Food-borne illness is so often thought of as a scourge of meat and seafood, but some of the most recent outbreaks have been tied to produce – romaine lettuce, cucumbers, melons and more. Bacteria don’t discriminate.

Wash but don’t go overboard with the water.

    • Generally, a 30-second rinse followed by a 15-minute soak, and a final rinse will help to get rid of pesticide residue on vegetables. That’s all you need.
    • But consider that dampness encourages bacteria growth and therefore spoilage.
    • Scrub with a brush and/or gently rub the produce with your hands, depending on what you’re cleaning. Water is sufficient, so don’t use soap or bleach or even commercially made produce washes.
    • You could wash produce right before you use it.
    • Alternatively, it’s fine to wash produce after purchase or bringing in from the garden. Just be sure to dry with a clean paper towel or dish towel.

Save on watering your vegetable garden

You’re probably picking those tomatoes, peppers and other late-season veggies. Vegetable gardening is rewarding, but it can be water-intensive. Here are some ideas to save on water for next year’s garden.

  • Get rid of your sprinkler
    • Much of the water you’re using is evaporating before it can soak into the ground, some even hits the ground. A sprinkler wets down leaves and make them vulnerable to molds, blights, and fungus.
  • Consider adding mulch 
    • Spreading mulch is a good way to slow water evaporation.
    • Mulch can help to keep down weeds (make sure your mulch is weed-seed free so as not to spread trouble. But even if a few weeds do come up, they’re usually easy to pull from mulch-covered soil.)
    • Mulch can return organic materials to your soil.
  • Add lots of compost to your soil
    • We’ve explained compost and composting in past tips. The more organic matter in your soil, the more it will retain moisture.
    • Soil quality is the key to growing.
  • Follow these best watering practices
    • Plant vegetables that use a lot of water close to each other. You can target your watering on the thirstiest plants.
    • Water only when your plants need it.
    • Water at the beginning of the day before the peak evaporation hours.
    • Use a watering can. Of course, this is impractical for those with large gardens and will take more time even in a smaller garden. But it’s an amazing water saver, pinpointing the watering right to where you need it and in just the right amounts. Soaker hoses are another idea.

Save on Gas Money by Driving Lighter

Though starting to decline, gasoline prices remain high. We offer occasional tips to help you save on gas!

  • The greater the weight of the vehicle, the more energy is needed
    • For gasoline-powered vehicles, the lighter the load, the less gas you need.
    • It’s no secret that smaller cars tend to get better as mileage than larger cars and the trucks or SUVs that many of us need for our lives.
    • So, whatever unnecessary contents you may be hauling around without a need for them, will decrease your mileage and add to your final bill at the pump.
  • Consider: An additional 100 pounds in your car can reduce gas mileage by up to 1%. The reduction is relative to the vehicle’s weight: smaller vehicles are more affected by increased weight than larger ones. For every 100 pounds in extra weight, plan on spending up to 3 cents more per gallon.
  • Not on top
    • It also matters where the weight is.
    • As convenient as it may seem to haul cargo or vacation gear in a container anchored to the roof of your vehicle, unfortunately, this uses more gas than hauling the same weight in the trunk or hatch area.
    • Those rooftop cargo boxes affect your car’s wind resistance, so you need to use more fuel to maintain your speed.
    • A rooftop cargo box can reduce fuel economy by up to 25 percent when you’re driving on the interstate at 65 to 75 miles per hour.
  • What’s the environmental connection?
    • Although we’re focusing on saving you money, the less gas that needs to be extracted and refined, the better for all: decrease pollution and greenhouse gases that are driving climate change.

Use a Rain Barrel

  • What is a rain barrel?
    • A rain barrel is a manufactured container designed specifically to collect and disperse rainwater from a rooftop drainage system for later use on lawns, gardens and for other outdoor uses.
    • A rain barrel may be constructed from plastic, ceramic, wood, stone or metal.
  • Why use a rain barrel?
    • A rain barrels allows you to use rainwater for some of your outdoor uses, and thus reduce the amount of water that must be pumped from our groundwater aquifers.
    • Benefits from the use of rain barrels include reduced water bills, additional groundwater recharge, and general water conservation.
    • It’s free water for use in your landscape.
  • How do I get one?
    • Some of our local environmental organizations sell them through annual sales. Some cities and towns do so too. Other sources include online retailers, local home and garden supply stores.
    • The City of Crystal Lake doesn’t sell rain barrels but offers a one-time $25.00 water/sewer utility credit to water/sewer utility customers that purchase a rain barrel from a retailer located within the corporate limits of the City of Crystal Lake.
  • Are there any disadvantages of rain barrels?
    • If not installed correctly, it may attract mosquitoes and other waterborne diseases – install correctly!
    • Storage limits – some homeowners start with one barrel and then later add additional barrels.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

The 2022 summer solstice in the northern hemisphere will occur on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at 4:14am CDT.

  • The summer solstice occurs when the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt toward the Sun, and is the day with the longest period of daylight and shortest night of the year. The Sun will be at its highest daily maximum elevation in the sky.
  • People from cultures from all over the world have held summer solstice celebrations for thousands of years.
  • Traditionally, people celebrated the return of the light, life, fertility, and the potential for a good harvest on the summer solstice.

Today people around the world still celebrate the arrival of summer with outdoor feasts, singing, dancing, and bonfires. Here are more ways to celebrate the summer solstice:

  • Catch the sunrise at Stonehenge live on the English Heritage YouTube page.
  • Create an altar anywhere, indoor or out. If it’s time to refresh your personal altar, this is a good time to do that. Use a fresh, brightly colored altar cloth. It’s traditional to decorate your Summer Solstice altar with an abundance of fresh flowers and a candle, preferably white, yellow or orange.
  • The summer solstice is a great time to reflect on the past season and set goals for the season ahead. Grab a yoga mat and take a moment for yourself to relax and meditate. There are plenty of videos on YouTube to help you get started if you haven’t done meditation before.
  • Gather with other people. The Summer Solstice is traditionally a time of being out in the world, being social, interacting with community.
  • Put on some sunscreen and just go outdoors!

You can now bring Styrofoam (polystyrene) to USCW for recycling!

 Your Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock EarthCare team is pleased to announce that polystyrene (commonly known under a brand name, “Styrofoam”) is now added to the “hard to recycle” items that can be brought to the Center for recycling. This is in addition to the batteries, shoes and used printed inkjet cartridges that we have been recycling for some time.

  • There is a large clear bin at the far end of the Fellowship room that is labeled for you to drop off your polystyrene.
  • A few caveats:
    • Items must be clean and dry, with no other materials (e.g., tape) attached.
    • If you have any polystyrene contaminated or discolored by food or drink, unfortunately, that will need to go into the garbage.
    • Packing “peanuts” are acceptable; please enclose these in a bag or box
    • Flexible flat foam packing materials are not polystyrene and also cannot be accepted. Please save these for your future personal use, e.g., to wrap breakable items in your luggage.
  • The Unity EarthCare team will periodically bring the accumulated polystyrene to a local drop-off site. The total accumulated polystyrene is then then to a company in Elgin that has special machinery that can break apart the polystyrene to a particle form. It is then sent to other companies to manufacture new polystyrene containers or shipping materials.
Use Your Dishwasher!

You wouldn’t think it, but using a dishwasher as opposed to washing dishes by hand actually saves water and energy in the long run.

    • The most efficient modern dishwashers use between 4 and 6 gallons of water per cycle.
    • In contrast, the average faucet can run as much as 2.5 gallons per minute, according to federal plumbing standards.
    • When you save water, you save yourselves money!

 

  • Wait – how can it save water to use the dishwasher?
    • Assuming 2.5 gallons of water flow from your sink per minute, in five minutes of hand dish washing time with the hot water running, you will have used 12.5 gallons of water. That’s twice the amount of water used by a modern dishwasher.
    • From an energy perspective, it takes about 6.63 kWh to heat a 40 gallon tank of water using your electric water heater3, so you are actually using more water to wash dishes by hand than you would if you were using the dishwasher.
    • Add to this the need for the water to be hot – using energy from your hot water heater – and you’ve got quite a bit of waste on your hands.

Using Your Dishwasher for Maximum Efficiency

    • First, make sure you have an efficient dishwasher. If your dishwasher is old or out of date, then chances are it’s using up too much water and energy.
    • How old is too old? According to Energy Star, any dishwasher made before 1994 is a culprit.
    • The next time you buy a replacement dishwasher, make sure that the machine is Energy Star certified.

Mark your calendar now for USCW’s annual Earth Day service. This year, it’s Sunday, April 24th

Celebrate the Vernal Equinox

On Sunday, March 20 at 10:33 am, Central Time, the Vernal Equinox occurs.

  • The Vernal Equinox is also known as the “Spring Equinox.” Winter gives way to Spring 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.
  • Daytime and nighttime are of equal length, hence a time to observe balance.
  • Springtime also represents the renewal of life and light.

Some ways to celebrate the vernal equinox include:

  • Get outside and connect
  • Plant new life
  • Enjoy spring arts and crafts
  • Decorate eggs
  • Meditate and/or practice yoga
  • Read books about spring
  • Restore balance in the home
  • Begin sometime new or establish a daily routine or rhythm

Mark your calendar now for USCW’s annual Earth Day service. This year on Sunday, April 24th

  • Be careful with glitter
    • As the old saying goes, all that glitter is not gold. And all that glitters is not green.
    • We’re all familiar with glitter: Sparkly, shiny material that we use in craft projects, greeting cards, clothing, makeup and more.
    • Glitter is plastic. And although glitter is less common in ocean waters than other plastics like microbeads, there is a growing recognition that glitter is a problem, too.
    • Glitter is typically made from a type of dense plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET — the same plastic used in most disposable water bottles.
    • This plastic takes many years to biodegrade. In the meantime, glitter leaches out and finds its way into waterways. Whether in a river or an ocean, plastic glitter is harmful to wildlife.
  • Fortunately, there are now some alternative glitter products available, made from plants rather than plastics. Some of the products biodegrade in the water. But some of them need composting to biodegrade, so even with alternative glitters, we need to watch our usage.
    • Biodegradable glitter uses plant-derived regenerated eucalyptus cellulose.

Set your thermostat at this temperature: 68 degrees

  • According to the US Department of Energy, it’s best to keep your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the day during the winter season.
    • Why 68?
      • It’s on the lower end of comfortable indoor temperatures for some people, but there’s a good reason to keep your home cooler during winter.
      • When your home is set to a lower temperature, it will lose heat more slowly than if the temperature were higher. In other words, keeping your home at a cooler indoor temperature will help it retain heat longer and reduce the amount of energy required to keep the house comfortable. As a result, you’ll save energy and money.
  • Other ideas:
    • For maximum efficiency, you could also consider designating 8 hours per day during which you turn the temperature down by between 7 and 10 degrees. By following this routine, you may be able to reduce your yearly energy costs by up to 10%.
    • Many people have been shocked at the increase in their natural gas bills. Heating bills are increasing by as much as 54% for some households this winter. Changing your thermostat setting is a relatively easy way to reduce energy consumption and save money on heating bills.

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

  • The 2021 winter solstice in the northern hemisphere will occur on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, at 9:59 am CST.
  • Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. It marked the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.
    • Throughout history, societies across the world have held festivals and ceremonies marking winter solstice, the day of the “sun’s rebirth.”
    • Another tradition that we still hear about today is Yule (or Yuletide).
    • And Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus on December 25, commemorating the bringing of the Christ light.
  • Some ways to celebrate the winter solstice include:
    • Create an altar with items that bring you joy and peace, and surround it with candles. Light the candles as a symbol of the sun’s ability to give us both life and light.
    • Wake up early on the day of the winter solstice to watch the sunrise. Close your eyes, feel the sun’s warmth on your face. Observe how the sun lights up the world around you. Bring a journal and write down any thoughts that come to mind.
    • Draw a winter solstice bath, adding citrus essential oils to symbolize the energy of the sun.