Greentrepreneur: First Grace United Methodist Church

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1. What are some of your proudest moments as owner/employee of (your company)?

The congregation and the staff are inspired about going green and being more

green. People are initiating their own “green” endeavors.

  • Congregants saying I bought paper cups so we don’t have to use Styrofoam.
  • Church administrator getting the Facility’s person, the member in charge of our community Garden and the Day Care operator who uses the kitchen daily to figure out more composting efforts—which have immediately happened.
  • People asking questions!
  • Emails from members of the church about “entire closets they have
  • “Pastor, I am trying recycling for the first time in my life. I have ordered a cleaned and donated or recycled recycle bin from the city.”

2. How does your organization go about improving your social and environmental impacts?

Our Big Inspirational push was to dedicate the 40 days of LENT to SCALING BACK. Lent is traditionally understood as a reflective time and a time of sacrifice and change—changing bad habits. We took that inspiration and invited people to SCALE BACK on the STUFF in their life—to buy less, use less and have less…AND to think about purging in a way that benefited others…NOT JUST CREATING MORE TRASH. We gathered a small group of members who think green already, and put forth an inspirational flyer that included convenient recycling places for everything from Mardi Gras Beads to dead batteries. And, they offered inspirational witnesses during worship. Each week we track how much we have SCALED BACK…and recycled, composted or trashed and we print it each week. The pastor also took a personal pledge to not drink from a disposable plastic water bottle for 40 days. And let the children and congregation know that it takes 450 years for a water bottle to biodegrade. The pastor also gave a sermon on MERCY…which spoke about us being a wounded people, and that people being social creatures need to feel the presence of another to begin healing—we need to feel the presence of mercy to be honest about our suffering. We need to tell our stories—confess what has happened to us and what we have done and feel the arms of mercy embrace us. So it is with the earth. The earth too is wounded and has stories to tell. If we listen, the earth to can begin to heal as we give it room to do so.

3. What partnerships have you formed in order to leverage sustainable impact as a company?

We are partnering within the church—staff thinking together, with others that use our facility in how we think about recycling, composting and trash; and we have contacted our waste and recycling companies and renegotiated contracts with them. And SAVED $160 A MONTH with better service. This is MUCH TO THE CREDIT OF LifeCity. LifeCity did an energy assessment with us and worked with our staff to think in these ways. It was non-guilt oriented and much more inspirationally based.

4. If you had a magic wand to change one thing that would make it easier for your company or other New Orleans businesses to go green, what would that thing be?

Have the starting line-up of the New Orleans Saints—Go green. In commercials.

5. What advice would you give to other businesses who are trying to improve their internal practices to benefit their city and state?

1. Guilt does not help.

2. It feels goooooooooood to be green.

3. Education helps.

4. Inspiring one another is fun and helpful.

5. This is not for us—it is for our children and their children—the less we use, the more beauty they have.

6. Anything else you would like to tell our community of Green Card members and Green Businesses such as upcoming events or promotions they should look out for?

LifeCity—was key in our efforts. They want you to succeed, and there is no judgment, rather the understanding that we are all in this together—so let’s live like it. .