Actionable Ideas Bulletin 1

The Blairs Justice and Peace team was recently established to help identify practical actions that parishioners can take to make a positive justice and peace effect on society. It is not yet clear how best to communicate with parishioners so this first “Actionable Ideas” bulletin has been created capturing a first few ideas, and your feedback is invited to help us improve things further. Please let us know what you think by dropping us an email here:

In this bulletin, we’re going to focus on two practical things that parishioners can do to make a difference to the environment. We’ve tried to keep it short but there’s plenty more detail if you’re interested!

Idea 1 – Reduce your household carbon footprint

There is global scientific consensus that human activity is releasing more greenhouse gases into the environment than the natural systems can remove, and that the concentration particularly of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising at a rate that will cause irreversible harm to the planet. Climate emergencies have been declared around the world, and world leaders, countries and even the Pope are all calling for humanity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid these harmful effects. We believe this is a Justice and Peace issue because the effects of climate change are predicted to disproportionately harm very large numbers of poor and disadvantaged people around the world people such as those living in rural and coastal communities, on small islands, and in locations where they cannot readily adapt to climate change. The recent Climate Change Bill approved by the Scottish Parliament sets challenging emission reduction targets (relative to 1990 levels) of 70% by 2030, 90% by 2040, and net-zero emissions by 2045. These reductions can all be achieved if everyone makes an effort to do what they can, and we suggest some things might be easier than one might imagine. Here are two suggestions you can consider:

(A) Switch to a renewable electricity and gas supplier

After air travel, a major source of household greenhouse gas emissions comes from generating electricity and burning gas to heat and power your home. Renewable electricity, for instance from wind farms, has a significantly smaller climate change effect and can actually be cheaper. Gas is more difficult because burning it inevitably releases CO2 but some suppliers now purchase verified CO2 offsets, created for instance by planting trees, to re-absorb the CO2 you emit by burning the gas they sell you.

Action: Get quotes from renewable energy suppliers for your home and see whether you might even save some money if you switch to CO2 neutral energy! Here’s three suppliers (in alphabetical order) with top Trustpilot ranking that offer renewable electricity and CO2 offset gas:
Note: Bulb gives you an extra £50 credit and pays a £50 referral fee to Blairs if you switch to them using the Blairs referral code that Fr Mark can supply.

(B) Offset your historical and unavoidable emissions

Realistically, we will continue emitting greenhouse gases for some time because for many things we don’t yet have affordable alternatives – for instance flying, using petrol, and emissions we’ve created in the past. It is possible to pay for others to take actions that will absorb our unavoidable emissions (such as planting trees), or that will prevent someone else that has an alternative to emitting greenhouse gases but can’t otherwise afford it (such as using solar panels instead of a diesel generator).

There are two standards used to verify that projects we might choose to support actually do what they promise (verra.org and goldstandard.org) – some even deliver verified social benefits like poverty reduction. Action: Consider whether you can afford to offset any of your unavoidable or historic emissions by supporting projects like these (also good Christmas presents):

Idea 2 – Recycle items that the council currently cannot recycle

Some products that we use are not currently recycled by the council – for instance single use plastic bags such as those for bread, dishwasher tablets, crisp packets, or disposable gloves or even old pens. There is however a company called TerraCycle that will recycle these difficult items. Collection points for different types of item have been set up around Aberdeen that we can use. At Blairs, we propose to start by collecting old toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes and even toothbrush packaging. This flier shows what items are accepted.

Action: Please bring in these items and put them in the box at the back of the church for recycling. Please also take a look at the TerraCycle website and let us know if there are other difficult to recycle items you think we should collect.

Also see www.livecoco.com for compostable toothbrushes!