February 11

Beginning with Lent and leading up to Earth Day on April 22 the Missions and Social Justice Committee and the Youth Group will be focusing on ways that we can put into practice the UCC Initiative The Three Great Loves – Love of Children, Love of Neighbor and Love of Creation.

Since these loves are all interrelated we will cover topics that include all three.  Some of these topics include the impact of the food we eat, the personal products and household cleaning products we use, as well as recycling and ocean pollution on our health and the environment.


February 18

The Food We Eat

Did you know that about one-third of the world’s water consumption goes for producing animal products?  If everyone in the U. S. avoided eating meat and cheese for just one day a week during Lent we would save 100 billion gallons of water.   We would also reduce our carbon footprint as this would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.  Let’s challenge ourselves and help our planet by avoiding animal products for one day a week during Lent.  Wondering where to get your protein?  Grains, nuts, seeds legumes and, yes, vegetables are all great sources.  You can find meatless recipes at : simplyrecipes.com, draxe.com/section/recipes(select vegan), minimalistbaker.com or type in the food name and recipes will appear.  On Earth Day, April 22, we will have a meatless meal to share our favorites.  Buen provecho!

February 25

More About the Food We Eat

In addition to reducing our consumption of meat we can help the planet by eating seasonally, organically and locally.  Eating seasonally saves energy by requiring less refrigeration.  Eating organically helps restore soil ecosystems that pull carbon out of the atmosphere.  It also saves energy and keeps farmland from getting polluted with tons of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.  Eating locally requires less fossil fuels for transportation, helps support local growers and preserves our agricultural landscape.  Some locally grown products can be found in our supermarket as well as in farmers markets.  Examples of local farmers markets are:  The Miami Shores Farmers Market, Think Beyond the Hedge in North Miami, and The Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood.  Additional Miami markets can be found at http://www.themarketcompany.org/  The Three Sisters Farm in Homestead is actually a restaurant which serves food grown on the premises.  A helpful phrase to remember when making your food choices is, “Eat what God makes, not what people make”.

March 4

Food Waste

Did you know that every year Americans throw away 31% of food available for consumption amounting to a waste of $165 billion dollars?  220 million tons of food waste ends up in landfills and is the 2nd largest source of human-related methane emissions.  This year’s Food Sustainability Index graded 35 nations on food waste, environmentally-friendly agriculture and nutritional quality.  The U.S. came out 21st, far behind #1 France and #2 Japan.  So what can we do?  First of all start at home.  Before you go food shopping make out menus and a list of needed ingredients.  Check your frig and cupboards to see what you already have and then note what you will need to buy.  Remember to take your reusable shopping bag.  Compost if possible.  When you go to a restaurant order only what you can eat.  If portions turn out to be large, take leftovers home in a cardboard rather than a styrofoam container if the restaurant has them.  The government gives huge subsidies to Big Ag and meat and dairy producers.  When voting consider candidates who support independent, sustainable farming.

March 11

The Cleaning Products We Use

Did you know that there are more than 82,000 unregulated chemicals in our products?  Unlike drugs, new chemicals can be put on the market without being tested.   Many of these chemicals are harmful to the environment and to our health, especially the health of our children.  But there is something that we can do to keep our homes clean and safe.  Just about anything in the home can be cleaned using 9 natural products: white vinegar, baking soda, lemons and/or juice, castile soap, borax, washing soda (made by heating baking soda in the oven at 400 until it becomes grainy), coarse salt, olive oil and essential oils (optional).  For example, mix 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of water and 10-20 drops of essential oils and you have an all-purpose cleaner.  For more recipes for toxin-free cleaners go to www.toxindetective.com.  For safety ratings on manufactured products that you are currently using go to ewg.org.  This organization also provides a free downloadable and concise Healthy Home Checklist.  It lists, room by room, common toxic chemicals found in our homes and suggests safer alternatives.

March 18

The Health and Beauty Products We Use

Europe has banned over 1,000 ingredients in personal care products while the US has banned only a dozen.  Many of the same toxic ingredients that are found in our household products are also found in our soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, toothpastes, sunscreens, deodorants and moisturizers among others.  The skin is our largest organ and our first line of defense against harmful substances such as bacteria and fungi.  Therefore we need to be aware of just what we are putting on it.   Toxindetective.com has a list of products to avoid and ewg.org/skindeep has a safety evaluation of over 70,000 products.  Or you can avoid harmful substances altogether by making your own skin care products with natural ingredients such as honey, coconut oil and avocados.  The internet has a wealth of websites with DIY (Do It Yourself) recipes. One example is draxe.com/natural-skin-care.  Have fun and think: “If you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it on the skin”.

March 25

The Clothes We Wear

Do you have clothes hanging in your closet or lying in your drawer that you never wear?  Many of us do.  After all, who can resist a bargain.  Clothing sales doubled from 50 billion to 100 billion units between 2000 and 2015.  However,  there is a downside to the availability of this “bargain” clothing.  The apparel industry is the second largest global polluter.  Excessive consumption of clothing products results in landfills burning the equivalent of one truck full of garments per second.  Microfibers in textiles pass right through filtration systems and into our waterways.  Our clothing is also a source of hazardous chemicals toxic not only to us but also to farmers and factory workers (who often work for substandard wages under inhumane conditions).  The solution?  Buy clothing made from cotton grown using organic and regenerative farming and fair labor practices.  For more details see The Organic Consumers Association’s “Care What You Wear Campaign”.  For wool check out National Geographic’s socks made from hair shed by bisons and gathered by Natives.  Also available online and in some stores are garments made from recycled products.  Enjoy a new shopping experience!