Woodlawn - Serve

Creation Care

The Creation Care Committe oversees all aspects of Woodlawn’s work to care for God’s creation.
Read the Creation Care Committee’s mandate.

Reusing and Recycling at Woodlawn

The committee assesses and makes recommendations about Woodlawn’s use of renewable and non-renewable resources and encourages the reusing and recycling of materials in all Woodlawn activities both at the Ministry Center and in the other facilities used by the church.

  • Paper Products
    We have substantially reduced the use of throw-away cups and plates for our coffees, dinners, and luncheons at church and in our Ministry Center. Instead, we use washable dishes, mugs, and cutlery which are washed in a dishwasher after use. Members of our congregation volunteer by district to help clean up after our monthly intergenerational dinners. They also volunteer weekly by taking turns to clean up the coffee mugs after the morning service.
  • Coffee
    We have switched from buying regular commercial grade coffee for church functions to purchasing fair-trade coffee (purchased from Costco). This has both environmental benefits in the coffee growing regions and economic benefits to the coffee growing farmers.

The committee keeps a current list of all the places in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area that recycle.
Read the complete list of Grand Rapids and Surrounding Area Recycling Opportunities.

Educational and Hands-On Activities

The Creation Care committee promotes educational and hands-on activities to help congregational members consider both their own and Woodlawn’s impact on the environment. Some of these activities include:

  • Our bi-monthly newsletter the Woodlawn World includes articles about recycling and other creation care initiatives.
  • Our Adult Education classes after the morning worship service occasionally invite speakers to address creation care themes.
  • Annual Clean-up
    We conduct an annual clean-up (trash pick-up, weed removal) of the Whiskey Creek drainage area around the Ministry Center. This event also features a plant exchange/donation for members and community members interested in participating.
  • Recycling Event
    Once a year in early May we host recycling trucks from Comprenew and from New2You to collect recyclables from the Calvin community, Woodlawn members, and from other community members who live in the area of our Ministry Center. Comprenew recycles any and all electronic equipment that does not contain fluids; New2You accepts donations of gently used clothing, furniture, toys, etc., that are clean and in good condition.

Plaster Creek Stewards Project

Woodlawn participates in the Calvin College sponsored Plaster Creek Stewards project. We help provide volunteers for work projects (rain gardens, trash removal, etc.) aimed at restoring the quality of the Plaster Creek watershed.

Climate Change Action: Reducing greenhouse gas (CO2, methane) emissions

I. Personal things we can (partially) control that contribute to carbon dioxide emissions

  1. Standard American diet (SAD)
  2. Utility use (natural gas, electricity, water)
  3. Transportation
  4. Waste production

II. Reducing our personal carbon footprint

Standard American Diet

Factoid: Roughly 30-35% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the modern animal-based food and agriculture industry.

  • Reduce consumption of animal products of all kinds (try a whole food plant-based diet for 90 days?)

Factoid: Producing and consuming 1 lb. of beef produces 27 lb. of carbon dioxide; rice: 2.7 lb.; vegetables: 2.0 lb.

  • Purchase products with as little processing as possible (primary processing only is best – wash, bag and prepare at home)
  • Purchase locally produced products as much as possible (AMAP)
  • Purchase in bulk and can or freeze
  • Convert lawn space to vegetable/fruit/flower gardens

Utility Use

       A. Natural gas (or heating oil) Use

  • High efficiency gas furnace
  • Reuse ‘gray’ water before discharging to sewer
  • High efficiency laundry appliances/dishwasher
  • Wash full loads (laundry, dishes) only
  • If building new house consider geothermal heat pump system and/or solar panels
  • Use light-colored shingles on roof; consider solar shingles; install ‘green’ roof
  • Insulate ceiling/walls; seal basement leaks
  • Install double (triple) glazed windows
  • Lower thermostat in winter 66-70oF daytime; 60-62oF night
  • Raise thermostat in summer 78-80oF day and night
  • Lower water heater temperature
  • When gone for extended periods (e.g. vacation) set water heater to “vacation” mode
  • Reduce length of showers; reduce number of showers
  • Hand-wash dishes
  • Use clothesline (indoor or outdoor) for drying clothes.

       B. Electricity (coal use)

  • Energy star appliances
  • High efficiency air conditioner
  • Unplug appliances/computers/TV/radio when not in use.
  • Turn off lights (install motion sensors?)

Factoid: In ordinary incandescent light bulbs, 95% of the electrical energy used is turned into heat; only 5% into light.

  • Use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or (better) light emitting diodes (LED).

Factoid: CFL bulbs are 4 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs; LEDs are 8-10 times more efficient (and last 40 times longer)

  • Investigate use of solar panels on the roof of home

        C. Water use: (natural gas use, coal use)

  • Install low-flow showers; dual flow toilets
  • If building a new home install a system that captures and reuses ‘gray’ water
  • Install ‘on demand’ water heating system (or high efficiency gas heater)

Factoid: Heating 10 gal. of water from 45oF to 135oF in a high efficiency natural gas water heater produces about 1 lb. of carbon dioxide.

  • Alternatively install a “tankless” water heating system (water is heated at the point of use)
  • In laundry and dishwashing use full loads/cold water AMAP.
  • Minimize outdoor watering; Install a rain barrel if you have need for outdoor water

 Transportation (gasoline, diesel use)

  • Try to systematically reduce the number of miles driven per week – a “mileage budget”

Factoid: Burning 1 gal. of gasoline produces 20 lb. of CO2

  • Acquire a more efficient (smaller) vehicle consistent with needs
  • Carpool to work if possible
  • Work from home if possible
  • Use public transportation if possible (bus; train)
  • Use self-locomotion: bicycle; walk


  • The 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle
  • Buy products with a “cradle-to-cradle” manufacturing ethic instead of “cradle-to-grave”
  • Purchase products with minimum packaging
  • Recycle most everything.
  • Use washable dishware as much as possible to reduce waste stream.
  • Compost organic matter If you have a garden


III. We Will Need To Do More

       A. Policy Change:

  • Set a global price on carbon emissions, rising over time.
  • Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D) – Citizen’s Climate Lobby – https://citizensclimatelobby.org/
  • Share renewable energy technology with developing countries
  • Invest in renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, hydro); rebuild electrical grid
  • Use feed-in tariffs for renewable energy generation
  • We may have to resort to nuclear energy development

       B. What you can do

  • Contact and work with government leaders to encourage discussion and action on energy and climate policy
  • Local (city, county); State (governor, representatives, senators); Federal (President, representatives, senators).