Learning about climate change and what we can do about it

First Parish Milton is committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions on the church campus by 2035. Greening our church campus, however, is just the beginning. Learning more about climate change and how we as individuals can take action to improve the health of our planet is a key part of our “Getting to Zero” commitment.  

The Getting to Zero education team invites you to complete a survey to help us learn about the congregation’s specific interests so that we may provide information, workshops and “doable individual actions” to address climate change.

Visit us at the Social & Environmental Justice table during social hour on Sunday where you can complete the survey and talk to members of the team. OR you can fill out the survey online.

This is a place to find information, articles and “eco tips” to help us all learn more about the many things we can do to reduce climate change and to fight for environmental justice.

Our goal is to publish short articles in the Link periodically and to maintain content on this webpage for future reference. Articles are listed here with most recent articles on top.

If you have suggestions for future topics, please contact Tracey Robinson or Tony Dutzik or send email to the Social and Environmental Justice committee at socialjustice@fpmilton.org.

Table of Contents:

  1. Climate Change Survey Summary
  2. Mindful Holiday Ideas – 2022
  3. What’s the deal with the Inflation Reduction Act? 
  4. What is Eco-Driving?

Mindful Holiday Ideas – 2022

From your friends on the S&EJ committee, consider some new ways to make your holidays (and year ahead) more mindful, healthy, ecological, and less stressful.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Wrap gifts in recycled pieces of cloth from leftover/unused fabric.  Use ribbons instead of tape or create small gift bags with a handy glue gun!
  • Finish up a big family meal with a family walk. Bundle up and enjoy a brisk evening stroll. The best conversations happen when you are walking! 
  • Regift treasures from the past.  I found some old funky earrings inherited from my mother that will be unique and perfect for my 12 year old niece who just got her ears pierced this year.  She will especially love them because they belonged to her grandma
  • Imagine how much plastic we could eliminate if everyone used a SHAMPOO BAR!  These are now widely available.  I gave my first bars as stocking-stuffers last year:  they sudsed up beautifully, did the job, lasted 10 months, AND avoided FIVE plastic bottles!  Observant shoppers can find more and more cleaning products sold in non-plastic containers.
  • Special gifts:  Our family has been focusing on events/experiences that we can do together – theater/concert tickets, restaurant gift certificates OR ask your children/grandchildren to give you a gift of time and give them a few ideas:  take a hike with you, rake your leaves, or plan and cook dinner together!
  • Buy Less Give More.  Check out this website from PIRG for more great ideas~For those celebrating Chanukah, consider adding a meditation for each candle lit.  You could even ask your children to help choose words that matter to them:  Family, Friends, Love…

What’s the deal with the Inflation Reduction Act? (published in Link November 2022)

Back in August, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), America’s biggest-ever investment in fighting climate change. Much of that money is aimed at people like you and me to make our homes more efficient and to switch from fossil fuel-powered to electric vehicles, heating, appliances and more. It’s a huge opportunity to save energy and save money.

The organization Rewiring America has put together two excellent and very accessible guides – a guide to electrifying your home and a guide to the incentives available under the IRA – that everyone should read. And I recently published an article with a few tips for how to get started in electrifying your home. But here is a quick FAQ:

  • What is subsidized by the IRA? So many things. Home weatherization and energy efficiency, new and used electric vehicles, heat pump space heaters and water heaters, rooftop solar systems and much more. Low- and moderate-income households can also receive subsidies for electric stoves, wiring upgrades and clothes dryers.
  • How much money are we talking about? It depends, but basically: A lot. Low-income households (defined as below 80% of area median income) are eligible to receive up to 100% of the cost of some upgrades, with a total cap of $14,000 per household. Moderate-income households (between 80% and 150% of AMI) get up to 50% of the cost of many upgrades, while higher-income households can receive significant tax credits. Rewiring America has a handy calculator to figure out your benefits. And those are on top of state incentives already provided through MassSAVE.
  • How do I get the money? Good question. Some of the incentives (for solar energy and some electric vehicles) are available right now. Most purchases made after January 1, 2023 will be eligible for tax credits. The cash incentives for low- and moderate-income households will take a little longer to get rolling, as they are to be administered by the commonwealth, but are so generous that they may be worth the wait.

What should I do now? If you’ve been meaning to go solar or to buy an EV that is eligible for a subsidy (eligibility will change on 1/1/23), now is a great time to go ahead and do it. Otherwise, start planning and get ready (and get a MassSAVE audit and seal up those pesky air leaks in your home in preparation for winter). The other important thing you can do is SPREAD THE WORD. Congress finally took action on climate, but the next steps are up to us. Tell your friends the good news about the IRA, and watch this space for more tips.

What is ECO-DRIVING? (published in Link August 2022)

Gas prices are through the roof and climate chaos is ramping up around the globe. The good news is that there’s one thing we can do to address both problems at once: save gas. 

If you haven’t yet made the leap to an electric vehicle, there are still ways you can reduce your gasoline consumption by as much as 15% through what’s known as eco-driving. Saving gas not only saves you money and reduces pollution, but it also helps keep demand (and prices) down for everyone.

There are dozens of ways to save fuel and many resources out there to help. Here are few quick tips:

  • Plan your trips – Combine trips when possible and share rides with friends when you can. 
  • Steady as she goes – Speeding, aggressive driving and stop-and-go driving waste energy. Fuel economy drops off at high speeds, especially above 65 mph.  Drive at a reasonable, steady speed. 
  • Keep it light and airy – Unnecessary extra weight and unused roof racks reduce mileage. Remove them when not needed.
  • Keep your car happy – Check tire pressure once a month and keep tires properly inflated and the engine in good working order. 
  • Try something new – Ever wonder what it’s like to walk or bike to the store, or want to try the bus or train? Now is the time to give it a try. Even swapping out one trip a week (maybe to church?) can make a difference.

Saving energy is important if you’re in an electric car, too. You’ll get more miles to a charge and reduce New England’s dependence on natural gas for power. You can find EV-specific tips here