By Mary Reid Barrow, Photos by Emily Lomauro
Emily Lomauro, LRNow’s new Pearl Faith Coordinator got a great introduction to her job when she recently delivered a Pearl Faith sign to St. Andrew’s Church.
The Methodist church at Princess Anne and Tucson Road completed its application to become a Pearl Faith Community just in time for Emily to do the honors and learn about all the church has accomplished.
The Church’s efforts were obvious from the exterior, Emily said. A community garden was still producing veggies for the food pantry and a huge sack of plastic was waiting to be shipped off for recycling.
From the community garden and new native landscaping, to recycling plastics and aluminum, to saving electricity with LED lighting, St. Andrew’s does a lot to reduce its carbon footprint, Emily said.
“That day, the chickadees were singing in the trees and the yellow-rumped warblers were flying all around,” Emily said, “And that’s right out on Princess Anne Road.”
One of the driving forces behind St. Andrew’s efforts is Terri Walsh, who was recently honored as LRNow’s Pearl Home of the Quarter. Terri works as an administrative assistant at the church.
“Terri does a little bit of everything,” Emily said. “She is even transitioning the church landscaping to natives from her own personal garden.”
The church’s community garden is cared for by volunteers and the harvested food goes to the food pantry operated by St. Andrew’s and nearby Church of the Ascension Catholic Church, Emily said.
That day, the garden was still producing herbs and squash as well as a surprise crop of mini pumpkins. The pumpkins probably grew from seeds in the compost pile where church members add their food waste.
Emily noted that the church also has a collection bin for the plastic bags and wrappers that members save. That day, Terry bundled up 45 pounds of plastic for the week.
The plastic is shipped to TREX, a company that recycles plastic into composite wood.
So far the church has sent 6,100 pounds of plastic to TREX. One week the total was as high as 100 pounds, Emily learned.
In return for their efforts the church has received seven TREX benches from the company, one of which was recently gifted to LRNow.
St. Andrew’s also recycles aluminum–20,000 pounds of it so far. They trade it in, and the money goes back to the church.
“All of the church lighting fixtures have been converted to LED bulbs,” Emily said. “And now Terri’s dream project is to convert to solar energy.”
Emily plans to do some research to try and find some funding resources for Terri’s dream. But churches and other institutions don’t have to go as far as converting to solar energy, Emily noted.
“There’s a lot of low hanging fruit that churches can do to improve their environmental footprint,” she said.
For example, eliminate Styrofoam cups from coffee hour, and maybe even go to ceramic cups if they can be washed in a kitchen, Emily said. She also suggested switching out light bulbs, cutting back the heat or turning up the air conditioning a couple of degrees, even cutting off the AC in the church when there are no services.
With ideas like that, Emily hopes she can inspire more faith communities to work to join St. Andrew’s and LRNow’s other Pearl Faith communities.