As a religious establishment, your church plays an integral part of your community. It is through your establishment that people seek guidance, discipline, and fellowships with like-minded individuals. With such a strong ability to influence, it's crucial that your church takes every opportunity it can to set good examples -- including demonstrating proper waste management practices.
If your church needs some work in the waste management department, here's how to get it on the right track in three easy steps.
1. Buy Some Bins And Labels
Your very first step is to make it easy for churchgoers to get on board with proper trash disposal techniques. Don't make your members have to go hunting around for a receptacle to dispose of their garbage; set up bins in plain sight and clearly label each one.
How many bins do you need? Being a church, you've probably got a lot of paper waste from flyers and handouts, and you likely produce a steady stream of cardboard waste from the boxes you receive your supplies in. You'll need one bin for each of these, and (depending on the activities your church conducts) you may also need separate bins for plastics, glass, and aluminum cans.
If you aren't sure what is and isn't recyclable, the University of Buffalo has a great list of items that can usually be recycled. These guidelines are probably similar to those of your local recycling facilities, but you may want to go to websites of local trash removal and recycling companies to be certain of what they accept.
If you host a lot of dinners, you should also purchase a bin for food scraps, but this does not need to be kept in the recycling station at all times. Instead, wash it out thoroughly after each use and store it in a storage or supply closet when it's not needed.
2. Promote Minimization
For a truly successful ascent into proper waste management practices, you can't just put out the bins and hope for the best -- you have to actively promote the concept of doing the right thing with garbage.
Take a few minutes at the end of your next service and talk to your church members about the role they play in the environment. Explain the many benefits of recycling, such as the preservation of natural resources, energy security, and economic development. Challenge each and every person to follow the lead of the church and responsibly handle their garbage from cradle to grave -- from its packaging to its final resting spot in a compost bin, recycling facility, or landfill.
Instead of plastic utensils and paper plates and napkins, invest in reusable products for your church dinners. According to oceanconcervancy.org, a family of four could save hundreds of dollars over a period of five years by making the simple switch from paper to cloth napkins. Now imagine how much your church could save if all its members dabbed their mouths with linens at future community meals.
3. Set Up A Removal Program
Waste management doesn't end inside your church -- you've got to think about your dumpster area, too. By letting trash linger in your church's dumpster longer than necessary, you run the risk of attracting vermin such as flies, mice, rats, roaches, and raccoon. And, with these pests comes all kinds of health hazards and concerns.
If your church's garbage isn't transported to the transfer station often enough, the soil and surrounding water can be contaminated by the pests it draws. If you don't have your church dumpster serviced regularly by a commercial trash removal service, now is the time to make the phone call and set up routine garbage removal.
The amount of money you save by teaching your members about recycling and minimizing garbage will go a long way toward helping to pay for regular trash service, and your church will appear more respectable and welcoming with a clean, frequently emptied dumpster.
As a religious establishment, your church carries the responsibility of setting good examples for the community. Create a proper model for how waste should be handled with the above three tips for how to handle garbage at your church.