Guest post written by Katherine Forster at the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & The Common Good. Part of a series contributed by Kathryn Norman at Sustainable Eastern Ontario.
Climate change has been an important topic in the first year of the Liberal’s government. New programs and subsidies are being rolled out that will help support Canadians to lower greenhouse gas emissions but are they enough? Many faith communities have shared their concerns with the government and were also present at the COP 21 talks in Paris, France. Is there more that can be done, beyond lobbying the government and trying to encourage change at the federal level? If faith communities want to do more, what can they do?
Faith & The Common Good has been trying to help with those questions over the past ten years by offering programs to aid faith communities in looking at their own buildings and practices to be able to make changes to offset carbon themselves and lead by example. Faith & The Common Good has tools and resources to help interested parties to start making a difference in terms of environmental efficiencies and sustainability.
A new program that has come to the Ottawa Chapter of Faith and the Common Good is the Greening Sacred Spaces Certification program. The Greening Sacred Spaces Certification program recognizes, celebrates and motivates faith communities who demonstrate commitment in the care of the environment through action. This program helps you celebrate when you’ve accomplished a certain number of tasks and it provides ideas of how to keep moving forward in your greening efforts. It is a series of checklists that help identify specific tasks that can be taken on and once 10 or more tasks have been completed, a certificate is issued to celebrate the faith community’s success! It’s a tool that can help give those who are working to improve their building and property that extra boost!
The congregation starts at the Light Green status and then moves on to Medium Green and then Deep Green. Light Green Certification costs $25 (which includes a mailed certificate). Each certification level has a corresponding list of possible actions in various categories (i.e. Community, Energy, and Water). The faith community is eligible to apply for Certification once they have completed a minimum of 10 greening actions in Light Green, Medium Green or Deep Green.
What’s great about the program is that it offers simple ideas that can make a difference in the energy use and sustainability of a faith community. And it shows how to add increasingly more intensive activities as the community gets more well-versed in their environmental options. It’s a great list to review once a year to help indicate what further actions can be done. And there’s no time table so communities can work at the list at their own pace.
Some faith community may have already taken the first 10 steps to be more sustainable and energy-efficient and not even realize that they qualify for a “Light Green” Certification! Some of these actions include:
regular use of environmental focused prayers, liturgies, hymns and/or songs in worship
placing symbols of nature in the sacred space and/or in the garden
exploring nature-care issues in children’s activities within the faith community
resources with a nature and environmental stewardship focus are in available in the community’s library
a ‘think twice before printing’ policy and an active paper reduction and recycling policy
signage at all light switches reminding people to turn off lights when not in use
A total of 28 possible actions for the Light Green Certification can be found here.
Faith communities can help lead the way and be great allies for those in the environmental movement. They represent a variety of people and cultures and many are interested in helping move forward the efforts of both their communities and the country.
Please contact Katherine Forster (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & The Common Good if you have any questions or want more information.
The Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale is a garage sale, fundraiser, vegetarian BBQ, family activity spot and party all rolled into one. There’s baked goods and coffee, a water bottle refilling station, massage therapists and live DJs. Even better, proceeds support the great work of Ecology Ottawa (90%) and the Ottawa Food Bank (10%), and the event helps raise awareness of environmental issues in Ottawa–not to mention keeping reusable items from the landfill.
Ecology Ottawa is looking for volunteers to make the GGGG sale happen:
Everything is coordinated by more than 100 passionate volunteers, without whom this event would not be possible. This year we are looking for volunteers of all ages for various jobs, including:
– People with access to a vehicle (or a bike with trailer) to pick-up donations ahead of the sale, and to distribute leftover items to worthy organizations after the event (May 23-31).
– Folks to sort donations in the days leading up to the event (May 23-27).
– Lots of help at the actual event, including some brave souls to help set everything up at the crack of dawn, salespeople, folks to run the BBQ, people to paint kids’ faces, and plenty of other help to make the event run smoothly (Saturday, May 28).
– Help in the days following the event, to sort the leftover items, distribute them to worthy local organizations, return items borrowed from our supporters, and tidy the venue (May 29-31).
If you’re clearing out stuff you don’t need, and think someone else could use it, consider these options:
Agencies in Ottawa are co-ordinating to collect clothes and household items in good shape for refugees and residents in need. Councillor Rick Chiarelli has posted a handy map here of drop-off locations and links for Ottawa Neighbourhood Services, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and other organizations.
Helping With Furniture collects used furniture and household goods from certain parts of the city for delivery to refugee families. See details here.
St. Mark School is hosting an Electronic Waste Collection Depot this weekend. Find them on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 from 12-4 p.m. at 1040 Dozois Road in Manotick. (They’re also collecting gently used clothing.)
You can consult the City of Ottawa’s Take It Back program to find out where to recycle or discard used clothes, household goods, electronics, hazardous materials and other things, or use their “Waste Explorer” to search for where to take a specific item.
September brings pressures to buy stuff, like fall clothes and school supplies. Buying sustainable is one option; re-using, recycling and buying local or handcrafted items can be great alternatives.
Here are a few opportunities to shop local and/or repurposed:
The Old Ottawa South Community Association holds its Community Wide Porch Sale on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. The sale includes a tool drive for the Ottawa Tool Library, and an e-waste depot that supports Hopewell School Council and HealthBridge. Centretown, Sandy Hill and other communities are also holding neighbourhood-wide garage sales on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, Sept. 12, the new 613flea, a non-profit marketplace for artists, artisans, antique vendors, vintage clothing sellers and other creative types to sell their wares, launches at Lansdowne Park. At the annual punkottawa.comflea market at the Bronson Centre, you’ll find records, clothing, jewelry, art and more.
Update:Dress for Success Ottawa is holding a Fall Hidden Treasures Saleon Saturday, Sept. 12 until noon. Proceeds support DFS’s efforts to enable women in difficult circumstances to obtain clothes suitable for work.
(When you’re cleaning up at home this weekend, gather up any empty beer and wine bottles—if you return them to Beer Stores on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12 and 13, 2015, all of the proceeds support Rogers House, which provides respite and palliative care to families at CHEO.)
Stock up on used books when Friends of the Ottawa Public Library hold their next Mammoth Book Sale on Saturday, Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at 100 Tallwood Drive. You can also purchase used books at many library branches; proceeds support the library through FOPL. If you’d like to donate books, check here for details on what’s needed.
If you’re looking for home renovation supplies, check out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores—there’s one in Ottawa East and one in Ottawa West. Profits support Habitat for Humanity. They also accept donations of building and home décor materials, although it’s best to call to find out what they need. The stores also accept used electronics for recycling.
Need a bike to get to work or school, or just to ride? Try re-Cycles or Cycle Salvation. They sell refurbished bikes, and also accept bike donations. Check their websites for details.
There’s no shortage of things to do this weekend, June 6-7, 2015.
Doors Open Ottawa opens the doors to more than 120 Ottawa landmarks and interesting places. If you’ve ever wanted to see inside an embassy, an architecturally significant building, an artist’s studio, a greenhouse or a historic site, check the list (and schedule).
Giveaway Weekend happens June 6-7. You put household items you no longer want on your curb, mark them “free,” and people can take them away. (There are some restrictions—for example no cribs or car seats–so check the website for guidelines.) Lots of garage sales happen this weekend, too, so you might find something that you need (and keep it out of the landfill). Check OttawaStart or Used Ottawa for locations.
Saturday is also the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium, where people set up lemonade stands in neighbourhoods all over the city. The event supports the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
Ottawa Veg Fest is a celebration of all things vegan and vegetarian. Organized by the National Capital Vegetarian Association, the event includes talks on health and sustainability topics, exhibits, food samples and cooking demonstrations. Admission is by donation.
Velo Vogue’s Fashion Show is on Saturday, June 6. Get inspired to ride your bike, and check out local clothing and accessories, food and drinks. Proceeds support RightBike.
Random Hacks of Kindness might be your thing if you’re interested in brainstorming with others about environmental and social challenges. Participants will be designing apps for the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, Ottawa Riverkeeper, VoteSavvy and other organizations from Friday, June 5-Sunday, June 7.
Part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival June 4-13, The Global Savages (June 8-13) is described as an 18,000 year old story that presents the world view of Indigenous people, told by the Debajehmujig Storytellers, in outdoor performances that evolve as the storytellers engage with people and places. The Global Savages are also inviting people to join them early on Saturday, June 6 from 4:45 a.m.-8:00 a.m. for a Sunrise Walk on the Sentier des Voyageurs Trail from Gatineau to Ottawa.