Green Sanctuary Committee


Through an initiative by the Social Justice Committee of the First Unitarian Church of Toledo and approved by the Board of Trustees at their meeting in January, 2009, we began working toward becoming accredited by the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Green Sanctuary.  We completed our action plan and applied for accreditation, which was granted in December of 2011.  Although the initial process has been completed, we consider this an ongoing project as we continue to seek ways to meet the spirit of the Seventh Principle of the UUA in our decisions and activities.

The goals of the Green Sanctuary Program through the UUA are to:

  • Build awareness of the significance and complexity of environmental issues
  • Encourage personal lifestyle changes
  • Engage in community action on environmental issues
  • Strengthen the connection between spiritual practice and Earth consciousness
  • Work to heal environmental injustices



In order to become an accredited Green Sanctuary, an action plan was developed by members of the Green Sanctuary Committee of First Unitarian Church of Toledo, reviewed by the Board of Trustees and publicized for comment within the congregation. The requirements are that an action plan include twelve projects, in the areas of:


    • Worship and Celebration
    • Religious Education
    • Environmental Justice
    • Sustainable Living

    The Action Plan was revised over time, but always included these four areas.  Additionally, the application process required that we develop a congregational profile, an environmental assessment, and a communication plan.

    Looking to the future, we would like to do more networking with other groups that work on environmental issues.  We also would like to create one or more rain gardens on the property when finances are available.  A kitchen upgrade with a commercial dishwasher would allow us to stop using disposable dishes, again dependent on the issue of funding.

    While looking to the future, we also continue with many projects that were part of our accreditation process.  We continue to have worship services built around environmental themes.  We continue our community garden, sharing produce with local feeding programs.  We publicize the local Clean Your Streams event each year, encouraging church members to participate.  Religious Education at the adult and youth level incorporates environmental themes each year.  We would like to add more native plants to our landscaping.  We will continue to make energy conserving changes to our building as needs are identified and funds become available.

    Ideas from the congregation for new projects and additional ways to become better stewards of our environment are always welcome.  Our meetings are open, and we would welcome new members.


    Environmental Policies

     Environmental Policies

    First Unitarian Church of Toledo

    These policies are intended to guide First Unitarian Church as we expand our awareness and implement practices that lessen our negative impact on the environment. The policies do not assume that we require the purchase or use of services or products that do not perform adequately or are not available at a reasonable price and in a reasonable time frame.  They should be reviewed periodically by the Green Sanctuary Committee, or another committee so charged by the Board to specifically look at compliance, and to suggest revisions.  

    We aim to:

    • ·       Continually educate our members about best practices.
    • ·       Reduce the use of nonrenewable energy resources;
    • ·       Increase the use of recycled products,supporting recycling markets;
    • ·       Strengthen our commitment to reduce, reuse andrecycle, and so reduce our contribution to landfills;
    • ·       Make environmental considerations an integral part of purchasing decisions in all aspects of church life;
    • ·       Conserve water;
    • ·       Reduce the use of toxic substances and increase the use of biodegradable products;
    • ·       Practice safe disposal, particularly of items that are toxic, carcinogenic, flammable, or will not break down in the environment (paint, cleaning chemicals, batteries, electronic equipment etc.).


    As responsible stewards of our environment, we will reducethe use of non-renewable energy sources. We will:

    • ·       Keep windows closed when the HVAC system isrunning, opening windows when weather permits;
    • ·       Turn on power-save modes on equipment andappliances;
    • ·       Choose Energy Star equipment and appliances when replacements are needed;
    • ·       Turn off equipment during nights and weekends,attaching equipment to power strips for ease in turning them off at the end of the day;
    • ·       Use energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout the building;
    • ·       Recycle batteries and use rechargeable batteries;
    • ·       Choose energy efficient window treatments;
    • ·       Install programmable thermostats;
    • ·       Where appropriate use motion sensor lights; and
    • ·       Provide a bicycle rack for the convenience of those who choose to bike to church.

    Cleaning and Maintenance

    Cleaning products often contain surfactants, detergents,antibacterial chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are toxic or hazardous, carcinogenic, flammable and/or not biodegradable.  These substances can be hazardous to the workers using them as well as to people with chemical sensitivities who use the building.  In addition to affecting the quality of our indoor air, many of these are poured down drains every year,polluting water supplies and soil.  Our goal is to:

    • ·       Look for Certified Green Seal products or those recommended by other green certifying programs.
    • (For example see  or
    • ·       When cleaning or disinfecting products containing toxic substances must be used, use the minimum effective amount and dispose of containers and remainders properly;
    • ·       Purchase janitorial paper products that are recycled and contain a high Post-consumer Waste (PCW) content;
    • ·       Choose low-VOC or zero-VOC content paints; and
    • ·       Purchase trash bags made from recycled plastic content.


    Landscaping and Grounds

    As we make plans for use of our grounds, we can be sensitive to the environment if we:

    • ·       Avoid the use of chemicals and pesticides on lawn and garden areas;
    • ·       Compost yard and kitchen waste to make natural fertilizer for the garden, and use only organic fertilizers;
    • ·       Consider planting native plants, which require less water and encourage native pollinators;
    • ·       Continue to develop our organic community garden; and
    • ·       Implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM)strategies that emphasize control of pests and their damage through preventive practices, mechanical and biological controls, and pest-resistant planting.  Use herbicides and pesticides only as a last resort and with the least amount necessary.


    We will reduce the amount of paper that we use.  By buying paper with recycled content,processed chlorine free, we can make a real environmental difference.  Production of recycled paper uses less water,less energy and produces less air and water pollution than paper made from raw materials.  Our goal is to:

    • ·       Print and copy double-sided unless there is a significant reason not to;
    • ·       When single-sided print paper is generated,repurpose it to children’s RE for drawing; use for note-writing and other office purposes; or offer it to church members for home use before recycling;
    • ·       Move toward using 100% recycled paper with a high Post-consumer Waste (PCW) content; and
    • ·       Continue to rely primarily on email for church communications, reducing the use of paper mailings, and using post cards when feasible.

    Kitchen and Food Service

    Much of our church social life revolves around sharing food together, so we can minimize harm to the environment if we:

    • ·       Reduce the use of packaging that must be land-filled by buying in bulk, avoiding individual packets such as sugar and creamer, and storing food in reusable containers;
    • ·       Use reusable spoons for coffee and tea rather than plastic stirrers;
    • ·       Avoid Styrofoam products, and ask outside groups that use our church to avoid using Styrofoam in our building;
    • ·       Increase the recycled content of paper products;
    • ·       Purchase Fair-Trade coffee, and encourage thepurchase of healthier food (organic, preservative/chemical free);
    • ·       Increase the number of totally vegetarian meals served, offering vegetarian options at all meals; and
    • ·       Use non-disposable items as much as possible,with the goal of purchasing a commercial dishwasher so that we can use our ceramic dishes.


    As a congregation we will reduce our use of fossil fuels andemissions if we carpool, bike, walk or take the bus to church.  We will:

    • ·       Provide Zip Code information to help connect members who would like to carpool; and
    • ·       Organize Sundays that will encourage alternate forms of transportation to church, such as biking and carpooling..


    Waste Disposal

    Our goal is to reduce our contributions to the landfill.  We will:

    • ·       Support a comprehensive recycling program for paper, cardboard, glass, metals, plastic, Styrofoam, and household batteries with bins in all appropriate areas of the church, including children’s RE classrooms for recycling paper;
    • ·       Donate or recycle used electronic equipment;
    • ·       Recycle compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s);
    • ·       Recycle packing peanuts at shipping stores;
    • ·       Safely dispose of cleaning products, paint,fuels and oils, drain cleaners, antifreeze, and other toxins – not placing them in the trash; and
    • ·       Recycle printer and toner cartridges and other office consumables, and investigate buying remanufactured or recycled ink and toner cartridges.


    ·       Encourage and support environmentally themed RE classes for adults and children;

    ·       Collaborate with other organizations to further green awareness

    Green Tips


    To locate a recycling place near you, go to, enter the item you would like to recycle and your location.  It's a good idea to call the place and confirm that they are still taking the item, since things can change quickly in recycling.  There is also a list at this site of items curbside pick-up recycling accepts, by community.


    Take to church and put in drop off box, or take to Lourdes or Kroger in Lambertville.


    Best Buy locations have bins to take the following:  Wires, cords and cables; CD's, DVD;s and Cases; Remotes and controllers; Ink and toner cartridges; Rechargeable batteries.


    Place in receptacle in the lobby of Maumee Police Dept, 109 E. Dudley, 24 hours a day.


    Cell Phones:  Retailers or women's shelters

    Interview-type clothing:  Suitably Attired

    Wire hangers:  Check with a dry cleaner

    Hearing Aids and eye glasses:  Lions Club

    Plastic plant containers:  Local greenhouses, Toledo Grows

    Athletic Shoes:  Wolf Creek YMCA, put in drop-off box for homeless

    CFL's:  Lowe's or Home Depot

    Kroger recycles not only plastic grocery bags, but also other plastic bags, dry cleaner bags, and case wrap such as comes on packs of bottled water.


    Many of us have made resolutions to "live a greener life" in the past, but this year we ask you to be a little more specific in how you will improve or conserve our planet's natural resources.  Here are a few suggestions from

    Recycle— It’s troubling to think that many people do not recycle anything—data is limited at best, but a 2007 Harris Poll reported that approximately 23% of American’s do not recycle. If you already recycle, then that’s great. But, are there more items you could be recycling? Many towns offer recycling as part of their weekly pick-up. If you go to your town’s website, there is often a link under the Sanitation department that lists the items that are accepted in your area.  Please also remember that household batteries and styrofoam are both recycled by our Green Sanctuary Committee.

    Reusable Grocery Bags—You have them, so why aren’t you using them? Do you have a hard time remembering to bring them? Keep some in your car at all times. In order to remember them, gather them in one place after they are emptied, and place your car keys on top of them. You won't leave the house without noticing them next time! Or, put a kid in charge of remembering the bags.Young children have amazing memories and when you give them a job, they take great pride in doing it well. Your impact on the environment will be great if you switch to reusable bags. According to some statistics,  one set of reusable bags could eliminate the need for more than 20,000 plastic bags throughout one person’s lifetime. You could break it down for yourself over a year—how many plastic bags do you bring home a week? (Don’t forget double bags!) Take that number and multiply it by 52 (weeks in a year).  That easily works out to more than 500 plastic bags a year that will never be recycled!

    Shut things off
    when leaving a room— Turning lights and appliances off when they’re not in use DOES make a difference.

    Change the way you consume
    products— Instead of buying, why not borrow or rent items? If you know your neighbors or have friends and family close by, then borrowing is a great option for those rarely used items. Do you have a library card? Rather than buy books all the time, you can borrow them. In fact, Toledo Public libraries even let you borrow e-books now for your e-reader.  

    If every family chooses at least one of these resolutions for the New Year we can begin to soften our footprints on the Earth and leave it a little better off for future generations. And don’t give up on your resolution if it doesn’t come easily. If you continue to work at it, by  2013 resolution will be a habit!


    The Sierra Club has created a list of New Year's Resolutions related to the environment.  The full list and a pledge to sign can be found on their web site.  A few that you might consider as you start a new year:

    -Try Meatless Mondays
    -Use green cleaning products
    -Use rags instead of paper products (and for our after-service Sunday snacks and potlucks, bring your own table service instead of using paper products!)
    -Take your own bags and takeout containers
    -Go carless one day a month
    -Change your light bulbs to CFL or LED
    -Get a home energy efficiency audit
    -Test an EV or hybrid for your next car
    -Get a quote for installing solar on your rooftop
    -When you take action, put it on Facebook to share ideas with others
    -Spend time outdoors - go on a hike, have a picnic in your local park, go camping in a national park, participate in a clean-up
    -Contact your representative about an important environmental issueR


    Recycling to support Toledo Zoo Terracycle recycling

    List of items they take is posted on Green Sanctuary bulletin board.  Place items in marked bin in East entryway.  They take such items as:

    Plastic cups, cereal bag liners, energy bar wrappers, juice drink pouches, potato chip bags, Brita/Pur products, inkjet/laser printer cartridges, oral care items, plastic tape dispensers, writing instruments.