Grace Church's Journey to Becoming Green
by Jean Burr, member of the Green Team, Grace Congregational United Church of Christ in Framingham
When we received the "Challenge for a Green Congregation" from the MACUCC, the members of Grace Congregational United Church of Christ in Framingham were excited and eager to accept it. We had already begun the journey to becoming as green as we could, and this challenge renewed our energy to tackle some new, exciting goals.
Because our town does not pick up recycling from non-profits, we have been collecting recyclable materials and delivering them to the recycling center ourselves for several years. However, for Make a Difference Day, October 2009, we really became serious about responding to the community's need for additional ways to recycle. As a result, we hosted our first Styrofoam™ collection day!
The event was open to the public and it was so successful that we now hold collection events every three months. People from as far as 80 miles away come regularly, bringing their Styrofoam to be recycled. These recyclables come in all shapes and sizes, from small cups and take-out containers to large items like coolers and packing materials. All we ask is that tape, labels and food particles be removed before dropoff.
We are proud to say that since these collection days began, we have kept an estimated 2-1/2 tons of Styrofoam out of the landfill.
A key to our success was partnering with a private company, ReFoamit, LLC, which picks up our collections and educates our congregation about their process. Their system takes loose Styrofoam pieces and using intense pressure, condenses or densifies Styrofoam into blocks. These blocks are sold so they can be processed by another machine that turns these blocks into pellets or directly into a new product. These blocks may be made into picture frames, car bumpers, toys and plastic brackets. When these items break they can be recycled again. (Click here for examples of items that can be recycled: http://refoamit.com/Portals/0/Refoamit/WeAccept.pdf.)
As many stewards of the environment know, our country has a problem disposing of Styrofoam. According to Refoamit's website, "When Styrofoam is burned, it creates a toxic ash and if it is put in landfills, it never breaks down. Recycling is the only solution."
Our Pastor, Brad Watters, recently said that Grace Church holds the "Premier Styrofoam Recycling Event in Massachusetts" because we are keeping so much Styrofoam out of the landfills and incinerators."
Because of our efforts, organizations from several other localities have begun similar programs. Over time, we have become the educators, promoting the need to recycle Styrofoam while providing a way to do it.
The church's next event will be on October 27 and they welcome all who are interested in protecting the environment! For more information or to get on their recycling event reminder email list, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.