Environmental Matters

St James Icon Environment Logo diocese small sign

May 2022 Newsletter

picture of insect hotel The insect hotel that has been installed in the cemetery.

The next steps may be to complete the ARocha questionnaire to help determine how St James can be more environmentally friendly, and to publish the report from the Oporto British School when they have completed it.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

April 2022 Newsletter

Now that the summer time (daylight-saving time) has come into effect we look forward to spring and summer. The latest activity reflects this.

Bird nesting boxes

Thanks to Barry, who has installed these on trees in the cemetery.

picture of nesting box
picture of nesting box 2

Environmental Science Project

Primary Students from The Oporto British School (OBS) visited the churchyard on Wednesday 30th March. More details will be in May’s newsletter.
It was good to see them working on their environmental science project. They installed a bee and insect house/hotel as well as conducting research. It was a very happy group of children strengthening the links between St James and the school.
This capitalises on our conversation with St Vincent’s in the Algarve, who have already been conducting similar research. Thanks to Lesley for organising this.

cemetery flowers
Wild flowers in the cemetery [photo: Nick Holland]

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

March 2022 Newsletter

Transport

One of the themes of previous newsletters has been that each individual can make a small difference according to their own circumstances. Jonathan Ayerst, our organist, and I, Peter Blackburn, cycle to St James on most occasions.

cyclist at St James cyclist at St James

Cycling conditions have improved over recent years, with motorists more conscious that they need to give cyclists more space when overtaking, and cycle lanes on major streets. If you use these, be careful at junctions where motorists tend to turn right without checking whether the cyclist is continuing straight on; otherwise the obvious advice is to ensure you have good lights and some visible clothing.

is a link to Cycle UK’s advice page on a variety of topics.

Several people also walk and travel by bus and metro.

Bird Boxes

Barry has constructed two of these and they will be placed strategically in the churchyard any time now, ready for spring.

Saving Paper

St James’ Church is making an attempt to save paper in regular publications. The Sunday readings will be printed every two weeks on both sides of the A4 sheet. Vicky Field, our Church Council Secretary, sends regular emails with attachments, and these are also available on this web site. Attachments include this letter and monthly church notices. If you are reading this in the paper version you will see it is two-sided A5. Please try the online version to see if it suits you.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

February 2022 Newsletter

Wood for two nesting boxes has been donated by a local carpenter and Barry is putting these together to place in the church yard ready for spring.

This month has been relatively quiet, however ideas for the next weeks include insect hotels.

Over recent months we have seen very little rain, and remaining conscious of our usage is important. How we save water is dependent on individual circumstances, but the important thing is to keep it in mind.

St Albans Diocese has kindly allowed us ​​to use the environment logo at the head of the newsletter. We will maintain contact with them for ideas.

And finally the St James’ web site’s recent move to a new host is good news from an environmental point of view.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

January Newsletter

Around nine million tons of plastic litter enter the sea yearly, influencing coastal and marine life, just as human wellbeing. It is assessed that 3461 species are affected, and marine plastic contamination is perceived as a significant worldwide danger to the wellbeing of the sea, environments, biodiversity, wild creatures and government assistance. (Charitou, A., et al., 2021. Investigating the knowledge and attitude of the Greek public towards marine plastic pollution and the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive)

cloth bag
A simple idea: use a cloth bag for shopping

Many supermarkets now charge for plastic bags, and encourage shoppers to use their own reusable bags. When buying vegetables you can use lightweight cloth bags to put them in ready for weighing: both time-saving and environmentally sound. This idea is mentioned by Nation resources defence council inc. (NRDC) a US-based organisation as one of the effective ways to reduce plastic pollution.

Through our newsletter, we want to encourage the use of recyclable bags and bottles. This would help us to start the New year with the slogan “We can be the change we want to see”.

Sub-notice: Contact has been made with two local schools, who may agree to allow their Environmental Science students to conduct research in St James’ churchyard.

has some ideas. St Vincent’s Church in Praia de Luz has worked with them.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
Victor de Holander
email

December Newsletter

Here are a few ideas just before Christmas. Some of you may already have prepared presents, but those who still have that task to do might find these suggestions helpful.

At least 50,000 trees are chopped down each year to make our wrapping paper and bags. It's time to make a change, so:

Get into the habit of saving the packing paper from online purchases, and to that, add discarded flower-bouquet paper, old comics, sheet music, newspapers, magazines, and so on. Even old maps can be used if your mobile phone is your main navigation tool.

If you don’t have room to put your children’s artwork on the wall, use it to wrap the grandparents’ gifts.

Brown packing paper can be scrunched it up into a tight ball then smoothed out to give a textured finish. It also has a high content of already recycled paper.

Even cloth can be fun. Look up Furoshiki, the Japanese method of wrapping gifts in fabric.

Wrap, the sustainability charity that advises on waste and recycling, warns against ‘zero plastic’ clear tape: they describe it as a ‘greenwashing gimmick’. Use paper tape instead.

These ideas are adapted from a Telegraph article.

Since the last letter, Linda and her husband, Anthony, have planted bulbs around the war memorial. The next task is to build nesting boxes to put in the churchyard.

We wish you all a merry Christmas and happy new year.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
Lesley Costello
email

November newsletter

God’s earth has been entrusted to humanity, and it is our responsibility to look after it. While this may seem obvious, it is not always easy to see how to put it into practice. As Christians we feel it is our duty to do something. The aim of this newsletter is to let each other know what we can do, and are doing, and so to invite contributions from anyone who has an idea.

It is difficult to make suggestions without sounding patronising or bossy, and in any case most of us have heard or read about the issues facing the world. We have seen how COP26 unfurled, with some useful progress, but not enough to guarantee the crucial barrier of only 1.5°C.

The church as a community can monitor heat and light to ensure we are only using the necessary amount of energy. While not expecting people to worship in a crepuscular or freezing environment, we can experiment with reducing the electricity or gas that we use.

It is a standard saying in the UK that there is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing. If you have lived through a tropical storm or witnessed the current disruption closer to home in Germany and Belgium, such extreme weather gives the lie to that. For the average Sunday in Porto, however, winter coats may go a long way towards mitigating winter temperatures.

Lighting in the Well House is already from low-energy bulbs. Other usage will be observed in the next month.

So, what suggestions have been made so far?

The churchyard can be a haven for wildlife, and with this aim we will plant more flowers and other plants to make it more attractive not only for people, but insect and bird species. It is surprising how many birds and other animals live in the centre of this city, and as they adapt to an urban environment we can help. Nesting boxes for small birds are another idea that could easily be taken up.

Please let us know if you have any thoughts. As a church community we can achieve much if we share ideas.

Peter Blackburn
Linda Wilson
Srishti Singh
email