Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of my new year resolutions for Rebuild Lakeshore hangs on the “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy. In an effort to be good stewards of the physical and financial resources God has provided, I have a few ideas I’d like to share and challenge ourselves to implement in the coming year.

No matter where we may stand on various environmental issues, the causes of climate change, or the existence of global warming, we can agree that God grants humans the responsibility for creation care. (Genesis 2:15) The Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative offers some issues of merit to consider. Let us not allow those who take environmental concerns to the lunatic fringe to negate our God given responsibility to sensibly care for his creation.

We should also recognize than many of these simple practices have very practical implications for the stewardship of resources. For example, we could save a tremendous amount of money each year if we reduced the amount of bulk waste we added to our dumpster. At $400+ a dump, this could add up to substantial financial savings, representing money we could reallocate to other ministry projects.

1. Build a Compost Bin

We produce an incredible amount of kitchen and yard waste. For example, next week we will host about 175 people. We will prepare 3 meals a day for 8 days. That is 4,200 meals of kitchen scraps in just one week. Adding grass clippings and fallen leaves can augment the pile and create a good carbon to nitrogen mix. The active compost bin can take these biodegradables and turn them into rich soil for our gardens.

2. Sheet Mulch

Our distribution center receives a tremendous amount of corrugated cardboard in the form of boxes and packing material. I have been experimenting with a process called “sheet mulching.” We planted a variety of citrus trees just west of the bunk house. This summer we layered flattened cardboard boxes throughout the entire area and topped them with grass clippings. The procedure successfully kept the weeds down. Come spring, when we start mowing the grass again, I plan to add more layers. I’d love to use the same process in a few other proposed garden areas.

3. Start Recycling

Hancock County does not yet have a municipal recycling program, but the city of Bay St. Louis does. If we separate these materials upon use, one of our church members has agreed to carry all of our recyclable plastic including water bottles, plastic cups, etc to the drop off location. We can bring various kinds of metal to the scrap yard and get reimbursed per pound. I like the idea of getting money back for our garbage instead of paying to have it hauled to a land-fill.

4. Consider Re-purposing

Call me Fred Sanford, but I hate throwing things away that could serve good purposes. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Even when an item has been used past its intended function, it could be used for something else. Ripped tents work well as drop cloths, scraps of carpet provide great knee protection when laying tile, a few left-over shingles create a non-slip surface on steps, etc. We always find a need for small pieces of scrap lumber. I have spinach growing in cracked rubbermaid tubs and my wife dog’s love their kennels constructed out of bread crates. Recently we took a couple of broken tables, replaced the tops with plywood, and have brand-new custom sized tables. I’ve even been known to turn a broken stove into a turkey smoker. Before throwing something away, consider that the would-be garbage could serve an alternate purpose.

5. Compact Garbage

Even with the above practices in place, several items do not fall into the recycling, composting, or re purposing categories and must go into the dumpster. Even here we have room to improve and save money in the process. We learned this principle when demolishing houses. We might fill two or three containers with debris if we just tossed it all in, but we could reduce the number of pick-ups if we layered and stacked the material. Doing this with all our garbage, as much as possible, will eliminate paying for air pockets.

If you make a trip to Lakeshore this year, please help us stick to this category of resolutions. These ideas just scratch the surface of how we can become better stewards of the tangible resources God has blessed us with. If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.