Binkley Baptist Church, Chapel Hill NC
At the beginning of 2018, Binkley’s Earth Ministry Committee began crafting a Proclamation of Sustainability, which was formally approved and adopted by Church Council on April 16th, 2018. The committee began looking at ways to improve stewardship and care of the Earth by reducing the amount of landfilled waste we were creating.
Binkley church has two preschools, a Meals-On-Wheels chapter, 30+ weekly user groups, weekly one-time user groups, and weekly food-oriented congregational functions, ALL operating out of our facility. It’s not surprising that we were producing a lot of organic and recyclable “waste,” all of which was being landfilled. The task was to address these large amounts of landfilled waste by focusing on three areas: eliminating single-use items, better recycling, and composting.
After conducting a trash audit, we determined that more than 75% of our “trash” was compostable or recyclable. Next the challenge was two-fold. First, we needed to revisit conventional recycling; although the municipality had been recycling for many years, including curbside pickup, most people didn’t understand what could be recycled. Second, we needed to get Binkley on board with composting; while some members did some composting at home, ours would be on a larger scale working with a commercial composting facility. To accomplish this, we designed a waste diversion and collection system for the facility and implemented it in stages.
As a congregation, Binkley church has eliminated almost all single-use items by stocking the kitchen with reusable plates, napkins, tablecloths, cups, glasses, and cutlery. The kitchen pantry is stocked with only compostable materials to be used when reusables are not feasible. User groups have been provided documents with comprehensive instructions for product purchasing and system compliance and are offered ongoing support. Each church committee has a designated “green” ambassador who oversees proper waste collection at committee meetings and events.
From May 15 to December 15, 2018, Binkley church has diverted 18,865 pounds of compostable waste from the landfill ( averaging 2700 pounds per month.) We now have three 64-gallon compost carts with twice a week pickup. We have also improved the efficiency of our recycling program. We now have three 96-gallon rollout carts versus the one 96-gallon cart with which we started the year and have requested a fourth 96-gallon cart to meet our needs. Binkley Church and Earth Ministries have also started collaborating with other faith organizations in the area, discussing our project and making recommendations as to how we can assist them in implementing similar waste diversion and collection systems. At Binkley, we have learned that with small steps, we can make a difference in the lives of others and positively impact change in how we take care of our Earth.