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Unity EarthCare

Spiritual Care for our Earth Home

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

  1. to help out fellow congregants, to inform and inspire you to take positive ecological actions in your everyday lives.
  2. 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 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…

Come and join us!

Unity Worldwide Ministries Earth Care – To Learn More
McHenry County Green Guide

Unity EarthCare 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

January, 2020

Use pet friendly ice melter for your driveway and walkways

  • Please consider our furry friends.
    • No ice melter is totally safe for dogs, but some are better than others
    • The most common ice melting product is rock salt – sodium chloride – and this is the worst for dogs.
    • Calcium chloride, the most common alternative to rock salt, is still toxic to paws and if ingested.
    • Prolonged exposure to common ice melters can have an irritating effect on a dog’s paws.
    • Ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal irritation in minor cases.
    • In more severe cases, a dog could suffer from hypernatremia (elevated blood sodium levels) which can lead to a number of health problems, including advanced GI issues and neurologic dysfunction.
  • What to look for on the label
    • Magnesium chloride and is marginally safer.
    • Chloride-free ice melters are even better.

What else can help?

  • It is a real quandary, because winter brings ice and snow, which must be removed for human safety.
  • But dogs must go outside, so consider behavioral solutions.
  • To keep your dog from ingesting large amounts of ice melt products, keep the dog from eating snow or drinking from puddles.
  • If your dog goes on lots of walks on wet winter sidewalks, afterwards rinse and wipe off their feet, including in between the toes and around the central pad. Some companies also make dog paw wipes that are helpful with this.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

December, 2019

Light up the holidays by saving energy

This month’s ideas come from our electric utility company, Commonwealth Edison! Gone are the days when they encouraged us to waste energy. We can agree with them that we can enjoy the holiday season by saving energy. And remember – whenever we save energy, we are saving money!

Use LED lights

  • Strings of LED lights use 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and they’re cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire hazard.
  • Holiday Hint: look for the “warm white” color for a soft, golden glow.

Set a timer

  • Setting a timer for both outdoor and indoor lights will give you one less thing to remember and ensure your lights are on at night when you’re able to enjoy them.
  • As a rule of thumb, Energy.gov recommends having holiday lights on for no more than 8 hours.

Think small

  • Wreaths, garlands, pine cones, tabletop decorations, and tapestries are all great tree alternatives that are just as festive as a large evergreen.
  • Use reflective materials like tinsel, metallic ornaments, or glitter-adorned trinkets to add some sparkle without using electricity.

In summary . . . 

  • The thought of decorating your home for the holidays should fill you with excitement.
  • A recent study found that decking the halls can make you happier and even help you get to know your neighbors better.
  • But we can get festive without using more energy.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

November, 2018

Insulate your front door

Brrrr . . . it’s getting colder outside. Let’s keep the cold outside, and stay warm inside our houses!

Did you know that your front door may be a source of heat leakage?

  • Save money on your energy bills!
  • Conserve energy . . . every little bit helps to burn fewer fossil fuels in our fragile world.

Here are some tips on weatherproofing your front door:

  • Use Weather-stripping Weather-stripping is a self-adhesive rubber or foam substance that you unroll, cut and apply to fill gaps where air can get in around the edges of your door.
  • Install New Sweeps A “sweep” is attached to the bottom of a door to reach the floor level with no gap. They are typically made from metal or vinyl, with a rubber strip at the bottom.
  • Use A Door Snake If time and funds are short, this is an effective and fun way to reduce heat loss at the bottom of your door. These are friendly “snakes,” long cloth rolls to put inside at the bottom of the door. You may have to put your snake back in its place after a family member goes in or out of the door.

These are just some ideas to get you started. Re-caulking is another alternative, as is buying a new door and door fame. And you can also use these ideas to help insulate your windows.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

October, 2019

Go outside this Autumn!

It’s that simple: Weather permitting (or maybe not), go outside and enjoy the splendor of the outdoors.


  • Stay close to home or not
    • Walk, run, hike or simply “be” outside enjoying the cooler temperatures as the seasons change.
    • Maybe rake some leaves, and unleash your inner child to jump into the pile of leaves! 
    • Set up your lawn chair, don a sweater or light jacket and spend some time reading, al fresco.
    • Parks are still open.


  • Why go outside?
    • There is the fun of it.
    • Changing routines is good for your brain, and helps keep you young.
  • The environmental case for spending time outside is to leave the monotony of the perfectly set thermostat inside the house.
    • This helps us to better appreciate the seasons.
    • And we tend to honor and keep safe, that which we appreciate.
  • Whatever you choose to do, do it outside!

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

September, 2019

Consider Used Books

  • Used books?
    • While it’s tempting to want to buy your own copy of the latest best seller, it can become expensive
    • We all benefit from the “sharing economy,” and buying books that have been read by their original owner is a good demonstration of the “Reuse” principle of the environmental triumvirate, “Reduce/Reuse/Recycle”
    • Saving forests through using less paper, using less ink . . . we all win
  • Fortunately, our friends at the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County have their annual giant used book sale event.
    • September 21 through October 6
    • At the Algonquin Township Highway Department – on Route 14 between Crystal Lake and Cary
    • Check the Defenders wbsite www.mcdef.org for details, such as hours and pricing
    • Year round, consider visiting the used book stores run by the Defenders: The Green Spot in Woodstock and the Green Read in Crystal Lake.
  • And why not donate your books that you no longer need.
    • Donate spiritually oriented books to our own Lending Library (in the Power room)
    • Gently used books may be donated to the Green Spot or Green Read
    • And another good option is to bring them on September 30 for the next USCW “Free 4 All”

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

August, 2019

Ride your bike!

We are specifically referring to bicycles, while not discouraging riding motorcycles.

  • Why ride a bicycle? 
    • It’s a fun summer activity . . .
    • It’s good exercise . . .
    • And compared with automobile trips, it’s excellent for the environment!
  • How does bicycle riding help the environment? 
    • Unlike cars, bicycles do not run on gas, and therefore do not emit and CO2 (the main greenhouse gas).
    • A solo driver in an average car releases about 1.1 pounds of CO2 per mile. Imagine multiplying by all the cars and all the miles driven!
    • Bicycles reduce traffic congestion (the fewer cars, the less congestion) and therefore avoid the CO2 produced through wasteful idling or creeping through crowded traffic.
  • Some ideas to consider:
    • If your workplace is close to home, most non-winter days are great for biking to work.
    • Ride you bike for short errands, such as a trip to the mailbox or visiting a friend.
    • And there are more and more dedicated bike lanes, to help safely separate bicycles from cars.

Keep your vehicle’s tires properly inflated

  • It’s summer and many of us will take road trips.
    • You may have heard that low tire pressure gives you lower gas mileage on your car or truck. It’s true!
    • Experts estimate that the average person who drives 12,000 miles yearly on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gas.
    • And remember that the Illinois gas tax just increased substantially (doubled from $0.19 to $0.38 per gallon).
  • Fortunately, there is one fairly simple action you can take to save money due to under-inflated tires
    • Periodically, check the pressure on your tires
    • And if necessary, inflate to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
    • If you don’t already own one, get a tire pressure gauge and learn how to use it.

Save more than money

  • There are negative environmental impacts from the burning of gasoline – actually from the entire process starting with petroleum extraction, refining, storage, transportation and even the process of gassing up.
    • Air and water pollution occur, harming our health.
    • Each time one gallon of gas is burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxideis added to the atmosphere, as the carbons in the gas are released and combine with the oxygen in the air. As such, any vehicle running on soft tiresis contributing as much as 1.5 extra tons (2,880 pounds) of greenhouse gases to the environment annually. The climate crisis is already bad enough.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

June, 2019

Sell and buy at garage sales

  • The outdoor season is upon is, a good time for garage sales.
    • Whatever it’s called – garage sale, yard sale, tag sale – be aware and take advantage of them.
  • Garage sales represent two of the “3 Rs” of environmentalism – Reduce and Reuse.
    • You likely have possessions you no longer need. Think about clothing that no longer fits, books you won’t be reading, supplies from hobbies in which you no longer partake, trinkets of which you’ve grown tired, gifts you never used . . . you likely have many items you no longer need.
    • Unneeded possessions weigh us down, spiritually and physically.
    • Go through your house, closets, basement or crawl space, garage, and gather up these items.
    • Then consider setting a date to hold a sale in your garage or driveway: The first “R,” Reduce.
  • And go to garage sales, too.
    • When you do need to buy something, consider buying it used. One person’s junk is another’s treasure.
    • You might find exactly what you’re looking for, and at a reduced price, all while having fun and meeting new people.
    • The second “R,” Reuse.


  • Or even better . . . bring your items and yourself to the next USCW “Free for All!”
    • We are holding quarterly Free for All (or “Free 4 All”) events. They’re like garage sales except that everything is FREE – no price – just take home what you need.
    • Mark your calendar now, for Sunday, June 30, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Free items will be set up outside (in case of rain, the event will be inside, in the Power room).
    • Bring your items from home to donate to the Free for All at 9:00 am on the day of the event.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

May, 2019

Please don’t release helium-filled balloons into the air

  • They’re pretty . . . they’re colorful . . . they’re festive . . . but they’re dangerous.
    • Planned balloon releases are commonly done to commemorate both happy and sad times. But they pose threats to wildlife and even to ourselves.
    • Latex balloons are a serious threat to wildlife simply because they are colorful and bright, so wildlife might mistake them for food. And the strings can wrap around their bodies and make it difficult for them to swim or breathe.
    • Natural latex in principle is biodegradable, but latex balloons in reality typically last long enough to do damage. And many so-called latex balloons are plasticized, negatively impacting biodegradability.
  • Mylar balloons have metal to create their characteristic shininess, and can cause electrical outages. Mylar acts as a conductor and even just one balloon can create a short circuit if it gets caught in a power line.
  • And helium itself creates a danger to humans as an asphyxiant when inhaled instead of normal air.
    • Helium displaces the air, including the required oxygen, in your lungs.
    • This can cause your body’s oxygen level to drop to hazardously low levels, initiating Hypoxia, a condition that can cause dizziness, disorientation, abnormal heart function, unconsciousness and even death.
  • Alternatives to balloon releases
    • Use balloons in small clusters, weighted down. Put them into the trash as soon as the event ends.
    • Consider these non-balloon festive activities: Bubbles, kites, stepping stones, pinwheels, flags, colored lights, sponsoring a bench, banners, streamers, bunting, chalk drawings or even dancing inflatables.
    • Natural alternatives include flower floats, birdbaths, wildflowers, planting bulbs, butterfly gardens, planting trees and many more positive, thoughtful alternatives to balloon releases.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

April, 2019

Cut your 6-pack beverage plastic rings

We all have our refreshing beverages of choice. As the weather warms up, we may be conscious of our purchases. Many cold beverages come six cans to a purchase unit, connected by a plastic piece into which each can neatly fits.

But what happens when we dispose of those plastic ring pieces? Whether we toss them into our garbage or, better yet, curbside recycling, the rings that had held cans in place now become a danger to wildlife, trapping animals in the rings.

But you can prevent these tragedies!

  • There’s a quick step to take prior to recycling or throwing way these 6-pack rings.
  • Get out a pair of scissors
  • Then cut through each of the six large rings.
  • Then and only then, it’s safe to dispose.

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

March, 2019

What should you do with paper shreds?

Yes – for many of us, it’s tax time. This is when office products sell well, including home-use paper shredders. In this age of identity theft, it is wise to shred unneeded paper documents that contain private, personal information.

But what to do with the shredded paper?

  • The shreds don’t go into the actual trash, of course.
  • Unfortunately, we can’t throw them loosely into the recycling either.
    • The small size of the sheds is harmful to the recycling sorting equipment (much like plastic straws).
  • Best practice for recycling is to put into a paper bag, which then is tightly closed (perhaps with a staple or tiny piece of tape), and then you can put the bag of shreds into your recycling.
  • Another good alternative is to save up your documents for a professional “shredding event,” sponsored from time to time by banks or government officials. Their shreds bypass the sorting machines and are recycled cleanly.

Another great way of using paper shreds:

  • Put them into your compost! Mix them well with your grass clippings (once you resume mowing in April).

More ideas!

  • Use as pet bedding. If you don’t have a pet, consider donating shreds to a local animal shelter.
  • Fill gift baskets – perhaps use as a base in Easter baskets (Easter is coming this year on April 21).
  • Pack stuff with it for moving or shipping: Delicate china, expensive electronics and more.
  • Scent it with essential oil and make a sachet.
  • Add flour and water (equal parts) and you’ve got papier maché for art projects

Unity EarthCare Tip of the Month

February, 2019

Become aware of all the single-use plastic items that you use.

That’s right – we’re not asking you to change your behavior but simply to know how pervasive plastics are in our lives. Maybe you could even keep a daily log of plastic items that you have used once and then either recycled or thrown away.

Why do this?

  • Our society is a “throw-away” society and it helps to be mindful of products or containers that have limited utility, sometimes quickly flashing in and out of our lives.
  • Recycling single-use plastic items is much better than disposing of them but even recycling plastic isn’t perfect: There are different forms of plastics, and different recyclers have different criteria. There is an expense factor too.

Typical single-use plastic items include the following.

  • Plastic bags with handles to take your purchases home from grocery stores and other types of retailers
  • The plastic bags (generally clear) used in grocery stores for your produce and other bulk items
  • Water bottles and flexible containers for other beverages such as pop, sports drinks and more
  • Plastic cups (especially with plastic straws) for beverages
  • Plastic clamshell containers from delis and other food purveyors
  • Shrink wrap and other packaging for products – that you remove and discard the moment you get them home


  • Then what?                         

Learn more about the pervasiveness and health impacts of single-use plastic items by viewing the short film “Bag-it” presented by the Unity EarthCare ministry on Sunday, February 17 following the service, in the Power room. Small love offering requested. Free popcorn will be available!

McHenry County Health Department accepting batteries for recycling this month

During the month of January, the McHenry County Department of Health is accepting single-use alkaline batteries for recycling. This is a special event that ends on January 31.

What is accepted?

  • Common household batteries that are single-use (that is, cannot be recharged) and marked as Alkaline.
  • The common battery size types AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt are accepted.
  • No other battery types or sizes, please (those can continue to be recycled through USCW).

Where and when?

  • Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at both health department locations.
    • Annex A Building, 2200 North Seminary, Woodstock (behind the Courthouse; you will not have to go through security)
    • Crystal Lake clinic, 100 North Virginia Street (Highway 14 southwest side of street a little south of Highway 176)
  • Why?                    
    • It’s important to keep batteries and other corrosive materials out of landfills.
    • Not only is landfill space dwindling, but in time chemicals leach out and could reach our water supply.
  • More info (also check www.mcdh.info)
    • You do not need to pay a fee to drop off your batteries for recycling.
    • You need not be a McHenry County resident.
    • All batteries collected will be shipped to Battery Solutions, a U.S.-based company, where battery materials – zinc and manganese concentrate, among others – will be separated and recycled.