Eco Church – archive

Eco ideas and news items published in previous months can be found below:-

Ideas you could try in August 2018

…not all at once but perhaps pick one or two ideas and try them out during August and they might become new habits or spark your interest in a particular area….


How do you travel to and from church… if you left earlier could you consider walking to church? 

Are you aware there are cycle rings installed at church.  Now you have somewhere safe to store your bike when you cycle to church!

Use water wisely

Fix those dripping taps to save water and money.

Consider fitting a water meter.  

Do you have a Hippo  fitted in your toilet cisterns throughout your house?  They could save you water with every flush.

Holiday Highlights

If you are going out for a day to the beach, why not take a bag in your pocket and pick up any litter you see to stop it ending up in the sea.  Remember only leave footprints in the sand!

Consider using public transport for your day out or holiday journey.  This will help you reduce your carbon emissions and travelling by train or ferry can be part of the adventure!

If you are planning to fly for your holiday you can offset the carbon you generate from your flight.  Check out Climate Stewards.

Holiday waste.  When you are away try and take as much care to save energy, recycle and prevent food waste as you would at home.

Ideas you could try this Autumn 2018

…not all at once but perhaps pick one or two ideas and try them out this Autumn and they might become new habits or spark your interest in a particular area….

  Harvest and a time to consider reducing food waste

Consider writing a weekly menu plan and then plan your shopping list based on this menu plan.  It will encourage you to buy items you need for the week therefore avoiding over purchasing and wasting food … ideas!

 Have you prepared too much food, or your family not feeling as hungry as normal?  Consider freezing your left overs in individual portion sizes.  Then, occasionally, have a menu day of left-over meals form the freezer … minimal preparation and food and money saved!

Compost your (uncooked) food waste such as peelings, apple cores, broccoli storks, or invest in a wormery to make fertiliser from your waste. Wormery ideas!

Cook only the amount of food you will need for each meal time, portion control during preparation by weighing portions of rice, pasta etc.

From April 2019 Wokingham Borough Council are planning to collect food waste from the curb side.

  As the clock’s change and the darker nights are on us, is it time to consider the lighting in your   home?

Light Bulbs! If an average household replaced all of their bulbs with LEDs it would cost about £100 and save about £35 a year on bills. How?

Use natural light when you can to save energy.

Turn lights off when they are not needed. Try lights set on manual timers or there are bulbs, plugs and apps that you can link to your mobile phone to be able to switch lights off or on in your home from your phone.  You don’t need to leave a light on all night if you go out, you can switch the front door light on as your leave to return home!

If you have lights in your garden use solar powered lights that charge during the day and don’t require electricity. Wrap up warm this Autumn and get ready for the winter evenings.   Now the nights get darker earlier, close your curtains to prevent the heat escaping through the windows, and make it feel cosier!   Bring back the dog!? The draught excluding “sausage dog” for the door! Now you can get cats, owls, rabbits, and hedgehogs to name but a few “friends” to prevent draughts from leaking in under doors! Professional draught exclusion for windows, doors floors and skirting boards can cost around £200 for an average house.  DIY draught proofing can be less.  Another alternative, especially on a draughty front door is to install some heavy curtains.    Insulation is also ecological.  Hot water tank insulation and hot water pipe insulation will save money on your water heating bills and help to reduce your carbon emissions.  Insulating your loft will help you save money too!  More insulation ideas!    Preparing for Christmas often means clearing out and tidying up.  Remember this is a good opportunity to improve your recycling efforts.   Why not set yourself up a simple recycling system in your home.  Have a waste bin, a bin for kerbside recycling, a compost bucket and a container for other recyclables.   In Wokingham Borough Council kerbside recycling will take:

  • Aerosols
  • All food tins and drinks cans
  • Paper and card including window envelopes – shredded paper should be put in envelopes or cardboard boxes
  • Plastic bottles without lids
  • Broken down cardboard which must fit in the box or be in box size bundles placed to side of box
  • Tubs (Ice cream and margarine)
  • Clear plastic food trays (e.g. cakes, meat or punnet containers)
  • Cosmetic pots and tubs (made with flexible plastic)
  • Cartons or tetrapaks (milk, soup or juice) – all without lids
  • Clean foil and foil trays

For more details click here!     Be pedantic about your recycling – think about every item and whether it / or part of it could be recycled. Tubes from wrapping paper, toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, used envelopes, junk mail, etc.   For other items of recycling check out our recycling guide.   Recycle @ St James Church Recycle your good quality used: Clean adults and children’s clothing, soft toys, paired shoes, belts, handbag, scarves and ties, hats, bedding, lingerie, and socks using the “Bag to School” and return your bags to Church on Sunday 25th November. For more details pick up a bag and leaflet from the Church lounge.  

  • Carbon Footprint

Ideas you could think about this New Year 2019:

The New Year 2019 gives us all an opportunity to think of the New Year as a fresh start, open book, fresh page, like found in our church prayer corner:

It’s a new page we can write together on our eco journey. But where to begin?

You might like to contemplate your personal eco audit. The Church completed the eco church audit, on a personal level your audit could be under taken by completing your “carbon footprint.” Your “carbon footprint” is the amount of carbon dioxide resulting from various activities, to see where your eco journey might be. If you search on the internet there are lots of sites that can help you calculate your carbon footprint try:

WWF (link:

Carbon Footprint ™  (link:  )   

Climate Stewards Foot Print Me: (link: )

The results of your “carbon footprint” will identify where you might be on your eco journey. You can see whether you are above or below the “average” on your carbon emissions and give you areas you might want to consider off setting or reducing you emissions.

Throughout 2019 we will think about ideas you might consider to reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for reducing your carbon footprint in the Kitchen:

* Never put warm or hot food into the fridge or freezer as this will make the fridge / freezer work extra hard to try and keep it cold; always allow food to cool down first.

* Do not wash up under a running tap. Using a bowl for washing up can save up to £25.00 a year in energy bills. For more information click here! (link:

* When making a hot drink, only boil the amount of water that you need. Don’t waste electricity (and money) heating water you won’t use.

* Reduce your use of aluminium foil for cooking wherever possible; use a container with a lid that can be reused. Aluminium is a rare metal and its extraction and purification uses a lot of energy. Remember clean used aluminium can be recycled.

* Consider eating less meat, production of red meat uses more carbon dioxide than white meat or vegetables. There are lots of ideas in this area including:

Choosing vegetarian or vegan meals.

Reduction the amount of meat consumed each meal.

# Meat free Monday (link:   )

Veganuary (lots of information on the web)

Providing your protein source from alternatives to meat: beans, pulses, nuts, seeds such as “quorn” bolognaise, or a bean chilli instead of beef chilli.

Ideas you could think about in February 2019:

Home Energy:

Tips on saving energy:

  • Reduce draughts
  • Are you hot water pipes and heating pipes insulated?
  • Install a thermostat so that you can control the temperature in your home.

Get to grips with your energy bill.  They can be very confusing to understand, understanding your energy bill can help you understand your energy use. This link links to a helpful video.

One way you can save money on your energy bill is by switching your energy supplier.  If you decide to switch your energy supplier to save you money at the same time consider purchasing renewable electricity rather than electricity made by burning fossil fuels.

You could use the Green Journey price comparison site (others are available on the internet). 

Renewable Energy:

What is it? Renewable energy is energy that is collected from a renewable resource, these resources are replenished on a human timescale – sunlight, wind, rain, tide and wave.

Why use renewable energy? It reduces the need for energy generation from burning fossil fuels which are linked to the production of carbon dioxide.  Fossil fuels are a finite resource and will run out. 

The Church purchases its energy from renewable sources. 

For more information on renewable energy look at the Church of England’s website click here!

Take Control of your heating.

Turning down your thermostat by 1 can save approximately £80 (depending on the size of the house.) Jumpers are in, in 2019!

Whatever the make and age of your boiler the right controls will allow you to:

  • Set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you want it
  • Heat only the areas of your home that you need
  • Set the temperature for areas of your home (using thermostatic radiator valves.

Ideas you could think about for Early Summer 2019:


At harvest-time we often think about the food we eat and how it makes it to the table. But we often don’t think about how the food we eat impacts the lives of humans, animals and the earth.  How can we improve our carbon food print relating to food?

Meat-free Mondays

Have you considered having one day in the week (and it doesn’t have to be a Monday!) where you eat meet free?  Eating less meat will reduce your carbon footprint.


Consider purchasing Fairtrade goods and food.  This is a simple way to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow the things we love.  You are also helping and encouraging sustainability because:

  • it helps to increase the standards of living for Fairtrade farmers and workers due to “The Fairtrade Minimum Price”
  • it helps encourage stronger businesses.
  • improves workers rights including safe working environments.
  • It helps environmental protection and climate change

Therefore buying Fairtrade can help to improve your carbon footprint.  Look out for the Fairtrade logo on foods.

At St James we are a Fairtrade Church serving Fairtrade coffee, and tea.

Food miles.

Consider your food miles – you could consider shopping at the local market in Woodley on Saturday’s or try Reading Farmers’ Market at the Cattle Market, Great Knollys Street, Reading RG1 7HD – first and third Saturdays of the month 8.30am to 12 noon. 

Eat more UK produce, there is less energy used getting the food to you the consumer and therefore this is better for the environment – look for the Red tractor logo, British Lion Mark on eggs.

Consider buying food with minimal or no packaging, therefore being more environmentally friendly.  Some supermarkets now offer recycled paper bags for your fruit and vegetables, and at Morrison’s customers would be rewarded for using their own packaging.  Consider taking you own reusable bags for your fruit and vegetables as well as reusable bags for your shopping.

Food waste.

Inevitably there is likely to be some waste from your cooking – peelings, bones, or perhaps you have cooked too much. From April 2019 Wokingham Borough council will be collecting food waste.  Very soon the council will be delivering you two waste food containers.  The smaller one you can keep on your worktop in the kitchen to collect your peelings, bones and food scraps.

The larger (23 litre) kerbside one will be for weekly along with the Blue bag and black box collections.   Full details on the Wokingham Borough Council Website

Have you prepared too much food, or your family not feeling as hungry as normal?  Consider freezing your left overs in individual portion sizes.  Then, occasionally, have a menu day of left-over meals form the freezer … minimal preparation and food and money saved!

Compost your (uncooked) food waste such as peelings, apple cores, broccoli storks, or invest in a wormery to make fertiliser from your waste. Wormery ideas!

Cook only the amount of food you will need for each meal time, portion control during preparation by weighing portions of rice, pasta etc. If you can’t scale down a recipe for 4 and there’s only two of you, freeze the spare two portions for another day, alternatively share with you neighbours.

Have fun with trying out one or more of these ideas during Lent!  For some more Eco Lent ideas try  the Lent Plastic Challenge  – Click here!

Ideas you could think about for Summer 2019:

Early Summer is time to consider being eco-friendly in the bathroom and utility room.

In the Bathroom:

  • Spend less time in the shower and save energy and money. Spending 1 minute less in the shower can save up to £7 off your energy bill each year per person.
    • Remember to turn off the tap while cleaning your teeth. Water is a valuable resource!
    • If your toilet cistern was installed before 2001 it probably holds more than 6 litre of water, consider adding a brick or a Hippo water saving device to save water with each flush. (Details of Hippo here!)
    • Fit a water efficient shower head (if your shower takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank). This will reduce your hot water usage, and hence money and energy, whilst retaining a sensational shower.
    • Switch to eco cleaning products which biodegrade in the sewerage system and don’t damage aquatic life in rivers and the sea. Products you might like to consider: Method, Ecover, Bio-D, Ecozone, Ecodoo to name but a few.
    • Consider purchasing paper products for your bathroom that have a higher percentage of recycled paper.
    • Turn off the tap! Please turn off the tap whilst you clean your teeth, it will quickly become a habit!

In the Utility Room:

  • In the Utility room ensure that the washing machine contains a full load and use the lowest temperature setting, saving energy, money and resources.
    • Reduce your use of the tumble dryer. Dry clothes outside on a washing line or even in winter clothes can dry effectively. Consider using an indoor airer to dry clothes inside during set or inclement weather.
    • If you do need to use a dryer consider using wool dryer balls. These balls help clothes dry faster and it will reduce the dryer time, which is good for the environment and for your clothes.
    • Irons use a lot of electricity therefore only iron the clothes that really need it.
    • Old clothes and sheet can be used as cleaning cloths for cleaning jobs instead of buying new cloths.
    • If you have clothes that you no longer wear, consider recycling them using the various clothing banks found around Woodley. The nearest bank is in the car park adjacent to church.

Personal eco-friendly products:

  • • You might like to consider using less plastic in the bathroom, substituting bottles of shampoo and conditioners with shampoo bars and conditioning bars.
    • You might consider using deodorant sticks instead of plastic roll on deodorant or deodorant sprays.
    • How about trying out bamboo toothbrushes?
    • Swap your cotton pads for reusable washable pads.
    • Do you use a plastic shower puff? Is it time to swap this for a biogradeable natural loofah or a cotton flannel.
    • Consider overtime, replace cosmetics with more organic or sustainable options. This transition can happen over months or years; if your still loving a particular product, you may as well use it up. Then look to finding more sustainable or environmentally friendly products – there are many webpages that can help you find products.

These are just a few of the eco-friendly product you could consider for your bathroom and utility room.

One area we might choose to live more lightly might be about our clothing:

  • What your clothing is made of? And does it matter?
  • How your clothing is produced? How is it made?
  • Has fashion become disposable?
  • How many times do you wear your clothes before you discard them?
  • What do you do with your discarded clothes? Do your clothes end up in landfill or do you send your clothes for reuse by others or for regeneration?
  • Do you buy clothes second hand?

Should our fashion be at the expense of people, animals and our planet?

The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world (Ethical Consumer 2019). If we are to care for our world, we need to consider our clothing and our choices in relation to clothing and its impact on our world.

If the clothing industry continues growing, polluting and using fossil fuels it is argued that by 2050 it could account for 25% of the global carbon budget. If we extend the length of wear on our clothes, then this is just one way we can reduce the carbon impact on our planet.

In September Oxfam asked consumers to “say no to new clothes for 30 days” you could join them here!

There are many ways you can help your planet through considering your clothes purchasing.

Eco Christmas Ideas 2019

Drawn together from various sources, from our own trials (and errors) a few ideas for you to make your Christmas slightly more eco-friendly, without losing the true spirit and meaning of Christmas – celebrating God bringing Jesus Christ into the World.

 ‘“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).’ Matthew 1 verse 23 (ESV)

Eco / Green Christmas Ideas to Remember:

Slow down and focus on the here and now. Appreciate the aspects of Christmas that you enjoy only once a year – Christmas smells, family traditions.

Eco / Green Christmas Cards:

To send cards or not to send cards?  This is very much a personal choice.  If you are delivering locally consider hand delivering – why not turn it into a nice afternoon walk.  Some local scout groups deliver locally for a small donation to their fundraising: this supports your local group and saves you time.

Choose your Christmas cards carefully, avoiding cards with lots of plastic sparkle that cannot be recycled.  Many organisations are now producing cards from sustainably sourced or recycled paper.

At the end of the festivities remember to recycle your cards, several large high street organisations have collection points.  At Wokingham Borough Council you can put card / paper cards in the black bin recycling.

Eco / Green Christmas Gift Ideas:

The giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas is a very special part of Christmas.  Whether you are wanting to be an eco-warrior or you are buying for friends and family who are trying to live, sustainably, ethically or just living lightly and without detracting from the meaning behind the sharing of gifts here are a few ideas of more eco-friendly or sustainable gifts this Christmas. 

  • Gift of charity: show your thoughtfulness by sending a gift that will grow such as sending an animal – goat, piglet, cow, beehive or chicken or sponsor a child (Compassion), (Action Aid),  (World Vision) or (A Rocha Gifts with a Difference)
  • Give an experience / activity instead of a physical gift.  This could be a meal or afternoon tea, a theatre/cinema voucher to a thrill-seeking day out, or the gift of a magazine subscription (paper or digital) or a membership to a group or annual pass.
  • Think quality of the present rather than quantity. 
  • Consider giving ethical smellies made from natural, cruelty free, vegan ingredients.
  • Handmade gifts: handmade nibbles, jams, jellies or chutneys to something knitted, a crafted a wreath, or sewn gifts such as Christmas tablecloth and napkins, veg bags.
  • Why not give a sustainable gift to help cut single use items such as a reusable water bottle, reusable coffee cup, tote or jute bag, lunch caddy, etc.
  • Give a gift of an item that has been made from recycled components.
  • Gift of a “christmas cheque” making your time the gift – promise to babysit, share an afternoon walk together, promise of breakfast in bed, etc.
  • Gift the gift of a book on sustainable living, reducing plastic use. There are 100’s on the market now.
  • When considering your wrapping swap tinsel and glitter for natural foliage – rosemary, ivy, and holly. Avoid wrapping paper with a metallic finish as this cannot be recycled. Even better, avoid single-use Christmas paper altogether and use brown paper to wrap your presents as this can be reused.

Decorating ideas:

  • Home make wreath from natural items from your garden or from foraged items.  A wreath of pine cones or edible herb wreath, wreath made of recycled Christmas cards. 
  • Trees: 

If you already own an artificial tree, then use it for as long as you can. If you are looking for a pre-loved artificial tree then search on Freegle, Freecycle, eBay, Gumtree or put out an advertisement locally on social media.

If you choose a real (Norway Spruce or Nordmann Fir) consider one that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or Soil Association approved. Remember once you have finished with your tree and stored all your decorations for next year put you tree out for recycling (only available in Wokingham if you subscribe to the Brown Bin) or take to the tip / recycling centre where the trees are shredded and turned into plant mulch or compost.

Grow you own tree.  Buy a potted Christmas tree (making sure it’s FSC certified), but remember it will need looking after it all year round.

Have a different type of Christmas Tree – buy a young Scots Pine that has been cut down as part of heathland management schemes in Berkshire run by the local conservation groups. Other sustainably-produced Christmas decorations (willow wreaths and stars made from local willow coppice as well as pine cones, holly, mistletoe, etc.) will also be for sale nearby.

Why not have something completely different like a driftwood tree, a pallet tree, a mini paperback book tree.  Alternatively, you could decorate a Yucca, Palm fig or a large indoor plant.

  • Advent Calendar: Consider making or buying a re-usable advent calendar and fill it with homemade goodies or plastic free treats, or fill with fair trade chocolate.
  • Lighting: If you are replacing your Christmas lights consider going for LED lighting, or if lighting externally, consider the use of solar lighting.  Both ideas produce an equal amount of sparkle and joy but consumes less electricity.

Eco / Green Christmas Dining Ideas:

  1. Enjoy Christmas meals using LOAF principals (local, organic, animal friendly and fair trade) such as choosing locally grown or reared items for your Christmas table – local turkey, local free-range eggs for baking, locally or home-grown vegetables.  These will not only support your local economy but save on “air miles.”  Or why not try some vegetarian recipes such as Vegetarian Wellington, Squash and Ricotta Wreath, Cranberry and Lentil Bake, or go Vegan with Sweet Potato Parcel, or Butternut Squash stuffed with Pesto Rice?
  • Do you use a plastic tablecloth? Why not purchase a length of cotton Christmas fabric, hem the edges or cut with pinking shears leaving a pretty edge.  This can be use on your table, washed and stored with your Christmas decoration to be used each year.  If you buy some extra fabric you could make some fabric napkins to replace disposable paper napkins.  Again, the napkins can be washed after used and stored with your tablecloth and decorations.  These are then are more than single use.  (You could even make them as a gift for friends and family.)
  • Christmas Crackers? If you are looking at reducing your plastic at Christmas you might want to avoid, plastic lined cracker boxes and throw away plastic toys, then there are becoming more and more eco-friendly options:

•  crackers containing wooden toys

•  buy recyclable crackers made from recyclable board and containing no plastic (more widely available this year than in previous – try a google search)

•  make your own crackers containing handwritten jokes and paper hats, and your own treats

Eco / Green Festive Fun:

  • Consider a festive walk locally – along the Thames Path, in a local park or on National Trust grounds, or Windsor Great Park.
  • Consider car sharing at this festive season to events, celebrations etc.
  • Dust off those board games in your cupboard and have some fun!

Whatever you do this Christmas why not try one eco-Christmas idea!

Previous Eco News items, now deleted, can be found here.