The Creation Care Ministry welcomes everyone at Watts Street to practice our faith by confronting the climate crisis. CCM acknowledges that the most vulnerable among us are harmed first and worst by climate change, from endangered species and ecosystems to our neighbors in Durham and around the world. To address this environmental injustice, CCM offers inspiration and opportunities for concrete action to care for all of creation.
In 2019, CCM began new programming to reduce waste from Watts Street by implementing a composting program for all church meals, hosting a textile recycling bin, and phasing out single-use plastics and Styrofoam.
In 2020, Creation Care Ministry proposes to expand this commitment by adopting a churchwide Proclamation for Sustainability, striving to become a net-zero emission church.
Americans waste roughly 30% of the food produced (USDA, 2020). In a landfill, food waste produces methane as it decomposes, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than CO2 and remains in the atmosphere around 10 years (EPA, 2020). Further, landfills in North Carolina and across the U.S. are located in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards. Thus, food waste is a climate and environmental justice issue. Beginning in fall 2019, Watts Street Baptist church now composts all food scraps from meals served on the premises, in an effort to reduce landfill waste. The church diverted 545lbs from the landfill in 2019, avoiding 71lbs in methane emissions which is equivalent to 1,418lbs CO2 avoided.
The EPA estimates that between 6 and 8% of all waste that enters a landfill annually is from textiles (EPA, 2020). Landfills take up land that could be used for housing, healthcare and other community-enriching uses. In a further effort to curb the waste produced by Watts Street congregants and the surrounding Durham area, the church now hosts a textile recycling bin on its property to promote recycling and reduction of landfill waste, redirection of textiles to second hand markets, and a closed-loop cycle for industrial production of new products with recycled fibers. Textiles collected are clean shoes, clothes, linens, and other cloth materials that are not suitable for resale or reuse.
Proposed Proclamation for Sustainability
On April 22, 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Creation Care Ministry proposed a Proclamation for Sustainability to the congregation. This Proclamation sets a vision for WSBC to become a net-zero emission church. In spring and summer 2020, the church will embark on a conversation about this Proclamation, and the following proposed goals:
Reduce landfill waste produced at the church and in our personal lives, and the environmental burden placed on Sampson County residents who host Durham’s landfill, through the following efforts:
* Eliminate single-use items, especially petroleum-based items like plastic, at church
* Compost all food waste and biodegradable products used on church premises
* Recycle everything possible.
Continue to pursue opportunities to improve the environmental sustainability of WSBC and our stewardship of the land, water, air and all of Earth’s occupants, including:
* Monitor stormwater runoff management from our building and two parking lots
* Purchase or install renewable energy resources on church premises
* Reduce urban heat through tree planting or other measures
* Offer plant-based alternatives to meat-based meals in equal measure at all church functions.
Ask and help our partners in the wider community to respect our climate-conscious policies and practices when using Watts Street’s facilities.
As building needs and uses change, review WSBC land use decisions related to church property and the proportion of green space, building footprint and other impervious surfaces, as they might contribute to damage or healing of Earth’s climate.
Explore creative ways to offset the effect of fossil fuel emissions from church activities when we cannot meaningfully reduce or eliminate them.