Environmental Matters

St James Icon
diocese small sign

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
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