The Ethical Exploration Group on the Environment

The Ethical Exploration Group on the Environment

Ethical Explorations is a discussion group that has met for many years on Sunday morning either at church or on Zoom since Covid to engage in wide-ranging discussions based on books, articles, etc. that members have read.

On March 20, a member opened the meeting by suggesting the group focus on Earth Day, which will take place on April 22, and share thoughts on that topic, as well as personal steps they are taking to impact the environment and climate change. Concern was unanimous about the severity of the issue, but discussion mainly focused on the personal and practical.

Several members talked about eliminating plastic bags and making it an established habit to take cloth bags into stores for shopping. Several wondered about what could be done to eliminate the large plastic bags used to line trash cans. Refusing to use plastic cups and plastic straws was mentioned. Not accepting styrofoam containers at restaurants for leftovers was mentioned and taking one’s own container for leftovers.

Not using big plastic bags for leaf collection was mentioned. Members talked about eliminating plastic water bottles and substituting individual water bottles that are reusable, such as metal. A member said she had been pleased when she joined Piedmont UU to see that throwaway plastic plates and utensils were not used. Paper tablecloths were not used.

Several members talked about the Green Sanctuary movement and want to see Piedmont UU move in that direction. One member had been a member of a UU church that was a Green Sanctuary.  The new name for what was Green Sanctuary 2020 is now: UUA Green Sanctuary 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice – A Roadmap for Congregations to Rise to the Crisis.  Each congregation performs a self-assessment, writes a plan, and completes projects across: Environmental Justice / Climate Justice, Worship and Celebration, Religious Education, and Sustainable Living.

Members expressed dismay about the increasing amount of roadside trash. The church has had groups that signed on with the state for biannual roadside cleanups. Another member remembered that Smoky the Bear many years ago became a very popular image urging people not to cause fires by throwing cigarette butts out car windows. Something similar to Smoky would be useful for calling attention to roadside trash. Using the church sign that faces Mallard Creek Road for messages related to the environment was suggested.

Reducing the use of fertilizer and weed killer on church property and establishing more natural areas was suggested. It was mentioned that the landscape architect with whom the church garden committee contracted for a master garden plan is a very strong advocate of environmental protection, using native plants that require less water and fertilizer and more natural areas.

One member intends to replace his gasoline-powered lawn mower with a battery operated one.  One member described turning more and more of her own garden area into natural areas with trees and shrubs and turning the last small piece of lawn into a clover lawn, which does not require fertilizer or weed killer.

The use of ZOOM for church meetings has eliminated the need for much gasoline use, not to mention the time used driving back and forth. This is a practice that can be maintained after the pandemic!

Many of these are small steps but when practiced by a vast number of people would impact the climate problem.

The Ethical Explorations Group welcomes all interested members and friends to join the Sunday morning discussions. Contact George at to join the mailing list and receive notice each week of the upcoming ZOOM meeting and contact number.

Anne Laukaitis