Eco Tips

Embsay and Eastby Eco Tips

In 2021, we decided to have a weekly eco tip, in line with our themes for prayers.  We are going to collect the eco tips here.  Although the themes are a guide, we are not sticking rigidly to them if there is something else which is more topical!

January: Where are we now?

Watch 'Feast to save the planet' on BBC iplayer, if you didn’t see it on the BBC2 Horizon programme. Food accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, so making informed choices about what we eat is more important than ever and is one way as individuals and households we can reduce our carbon footprint. The programme is a dinner party where the guests have to predict the carbon footprint of each item on the menu. As the dishes are plated up we find out how to choose dishes that don’t cost the earth and as you would expect there are some surprises.

Calculate our environmental footprint using the WWF Footprint Calculator to provide a baseline of where we are now, as individual households, at the start of St Mary’s Eco-church journey towards the Eco church gold award. It only takes a few minutes to complete and once you’ve got your score please make a personal record of it so that when you’re asked to do it again you will be able to see if any practical actions you’ve taken has made a difference. Hopefully we will gain evidence needed to evaluate changes in behaviour as a result of increasing awareness of how our lifestyles impact on the earth and all that lives in it.  If you think any of your neighbours and friends in the village would be interested in calculating their footprint please encourage them.

You are encouraged to join the Eco Café, hosted by St Andrew's Methodist Church in Skipton, to rind out what other individuals and groups who are concerned about the health of our planet are doing.

Find out and reflect on whether:  your tea bags contain plastic,  your toilet roll is made from recycled paper, how many main meals have you eaten this week that contain meat? Are you prepared to make swaps this coming week/next time you go shopping to be more environmentally friendly?

February: Fairtrade

Support small farmers in this country who are acting as custodians of the land for future generations by buying  organic, low impact, less travelled food when you can and if you eat bananas make sure that they are Fairtrade. The producers of other brands are not getting a living wage.


Find about how Fairtrade contributes to a more sustainable world for us all by watching this video. It’s an animation based on the story of Teresa, a coffee farmer from Nicaragua.


Fairtrade and sustainability | Fairtrade Foundation

March: Climate action

This week's eco action is to buy local for at least two meals in the coming week because buying local seasonal produce helps support biodiversity as well as reducing carbon emissions.

The second online Eco Café on 20 March, organised by St Andrew’s Church in Skipton, will be considering the question, “What inspires us to be green?”. Michael Jennings, from ‘Steep and Filter’ on Otley Street will be opening the discussion by sharing his thoughts.

Now is a good time to start thinking about what recycled materials you could use to make a cross to display in your garden or window during Holy and Easter weeks.

April: Water use

Check and, if necessary, reduce your shower time. The average shower uses 75 to 190 litres of water so try and make sure your showers are under five minutes. This is normal practice in some countries where water shortages are commonplace.

If you were asked how much water an individual in the UK uses in a day I wonder what you would say. Perhaps anything between 50 and 100 litres? The figure is actually 140 litres. I for one forget that water is intrinsically linked to energy – energy needed to treat and pump the water into our homes. Then there’s energy to produce hot water in our homes. So this week’s eco-suggestions are use cold water rather than hot water when it makes sense and make sure that washing machines and dishwashers are full before using them. Our reputation for a rainy climate distracts from how the relationship between rainfall and the water available to us really works. Water is a precious resource and climate change means that it is becoming more unpredictable; so far April has been a dry month but last February was the wettest on record.

Saving water is another way to reduce our carbon footprint.

This week’s eco tip – Minimise evaporation by watering garden plants during the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler and if you don’t have a water butt to take advantage of water stored during wet weather why not investigate the huge variety available in different sizes, shapes and materials. There must be one to suit your requirements.

May: food

This week’s tip is to do with waste because 30% of the food produced in the world is wasted, with serious repercussions for the environment. In fact, if food waste were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA.

This week’s Eco tip is an easy one to achieve - Reduce food waste by freezing anything you can’t eat while it’s fresh and , where possible, buy loose produce so you can select the exact amount that you need. You’ll avoid packaging at the same time if you use your own bags and containers when you shop.

Use left over coffee grounds for repelling garden pests, deodorising your fridge and hands, boosting compost and fertilising plants. For more information read, “Grinding away: 11 ways of using leftover coffee grounds” (The Guardian, 9 May 2021)

Have a go at the “Dietary carbon footprint quiz What should I eat to save the planet? (The Guardian). Be warned it’s challenging.

This week’s food related eco tip – compost uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells (these keep the heap from smelling), coffee grounds, tea bags IF they don’t contain plastic. Composting works best if you add a fair quantity of material at a time, so it’s best to save up kitchen scraps and add them with some prunings or old bedding plants, shredded plain cardboard and newspaper.  

This week’s Food related Eco suggestions - Top 8 Tips for Sustainable Eating

·        Avoid Highly Processed Foods. ...               

·        Choose Nutritious Foods. ...

·        Avoid Overeating. ...

·        Avoid Purchasing Fresh Foods Out of Season. ...

·        Use Preserved Foods in the Off Season. ...

·        Consider Organic Foods. ...

·        Reduce Food Packaging. ...

·        Trim Food Waste.

This week’s food related eco-tip - Eat plenty of these eco-friendly foods – Garden peas, lentils, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beans, broccoli, oranges and Fairtrade chocolate. Not only are they in the top ten list of eco-friendly foods but they are also good for you.

June: Gardening and land use

Come along and take part in the churchyard count on Friday 11 June AND next time you are thinking about a new plant for your garden choose one that will attract bees and butterflies. To discover the ten best plants for bees and butterflies look at 10 best plants for bees and butterflies (

This week’s eco tip/suggestion -  create a log pile lodge. Decaying wood is really important for wildlife. To make a log pile, simply collect small logs, large sticks and pieces of rotting wood. Pile them up in a damp, shady area of your garden, then stuff some dead leaves in the nooks and crannies to make it cosy. Good for: centipedes, woodlice and beetles who like to burrow into decaying wood. Log piles may also attract birds, frogs and hedgehogs looking for a tasty snack!

This week’s eco suggestions – bees of all kinds love dandelions so consider letting them flourish in a corner of your garden. Baby hedgehogs will be appearing soon so consider leaving out water and some meat (not fish) - based cat or dog food for them.

In June, we had a discussion about land and gardening after one of the morning services.  Here are some of the ideas from the discussion:

If you have more garden/allotment space than you can manage, see if you can find somebody to share it with you.  If it’s your garden and they’re cultivating it, you can probably share the produce.



(i) pollinator-friendly plants (many plant labels in nurseries have a bee symbol on them to indicate suitable ones; also, look for which plants pollinators are heading for in the nursery/garden centre) Suggestions of suitable plants can be found on the following websites: (10 best plants for bees and butterflies), and

(ii) a selection of flowering plants which blossom from spring (eg dandelions, though you probably don’t need to plant these specially – nature will do that for you!) through to autumn (eg the large sedums); plan for the `hungry gap’ in early spring (an early warm spell may bring out the pollinators before there’s anything much flowering)

(iii) at least some single-layer-of-petals flowers as the showy `doubles’ eg begonias, are difficult for pollinators to access - however lovely they look!

(iv) wildflowers where you can as we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows; also some of what we would class as weeds eg nettles, are important food sources for some insect species (which form an important part of longer foodchains) – again, these will probably plant themselves

(v) your own vegetables and fruit: zero food miles and provenance assured – result!

(vi) companion plants eg marigolds with tomato plants etc, which deter harmful insects from bothering your crops  

(vii) hedges where possible, instead of fences; include a variety of species of plants – hawthorn is especially beneficial

(ix) seeds/small plants into re-cycled, water-retaining containers eg cardboard toilet roll middles and papier mache tubs (if you buy fruit and veg at Keelham) rather than buying plastic trays; often the cardboard tube can be planted with the plant, to avoid soil disturbance, or composted after use.

 Utilisation of your space:

(i) try to leave some wilder areas – see nettles above, etc.  Remember: a weed is only a plant in what YOU consider is the wrong place

(ii) leave some gaps in fences etc as wildlife corridors so mammals such as hedgehogs (threatened species) can move between gardens.  Remember: garden fences are a human social construct irrelevant to wildlife!

(iii) solar panels to generate electricity can go on elevated/sloping land, they don’t have to go on a roof

(iv) a pond – even a small one - will bring in many extra species, but do provide a `beach’ eg some stones at one side, to allow small mammals to get in and out safely

(v) install a `bug hotel’ – see the internet for instructions – and bird/bat boxes; you can re-use materials such as left-over pallets and bits of wood

(vi) if you have a glut of produce, share it.

 Things to think about before taking action:

(i) try to limit the use of pesticides and weedkillers; try to be as organic as possible within your lifestyle and limitations such as mobility issues

(ii) avoid the bird-nesting season when cutting hedges

(iii) if you’re trimming back berry-bearing plants, do it early in the season or leave it until the birds have had their fill of the autumn berries

(iv) with soft fruit, you’ll need to net it to avoid the birds eating it all but leave them some fruit (as there is a strong Biblical imperative for this!)

(v) next year, remember `no mow May’ if you didn’t manage it this year.

 B - General land use around the world

(i) the cultivation of some products eg cotton and palm oil may involve very intensive farming (cotton production takes a lot of water and natural habitats are often destroyed for the monoculture of huge palm oil plantations), so try to source ethical products – look for evidence of sustainability and Fairtrade as a start

(ii) peatbogs are a vital medium for absorbing carbon - even better than rainforests - and, to make things worse, they release carbon when disturbed; try to avoid using peat-based compost, even if you have to pay a bit more or source it more carefully, and consider other growing media as substitutes

(iii) consider the implications of your purchases and investments in how land and other scarce natural resources are used to produce things; there are websites which can advise.

 Overlap with other monthly themes/issues:

(i) educate/train other family members (and friends?) also to bear in mind these issues – and others, like food miles and excess/disposable packaging – in their purchasing

(ii) help others by working with the local food bank – remember that St Mary’s Church is a drop-off point

(iii) remember that `Re-use, recycle and re-purpose’ is an excellent philosophy for everyday life. 

July: investments

Take a look at the Shared Interest website and if you can invest £100 or more in a fairer world - Shared Interest Ethical Investment Co-operative ( Since 1990 Shared Interest has enabled millions of people across the world to grow their businesses creating thriving communities. Their aim is to alleviate poverty by enabling people in remote and disadvantaged communities, to trade and earn a living. This is achieved by pooling the investments of over 11,000 members to lend funds to farmers and handcraft producers, who buy seeds, fertilisers and raw materials. Once they sell their crops or crafts, they pay back the loan, and this money is lent again. Your investment will not make you rich but it will enrich the lives of others.

This week we’d like you to consider the biblical principles for personal saving and investment. Who should we trust with our savings? Is the highest return all that counts or should this be sacrificed to moral principle? What do you think?  Paul Mills’ four page document is a recommended read. Link is below.

Investing as a Christian: Reaping where you have not sown? (

The crux of biblical saving and investing is the same as the purpose given to every person who has placed their faith and trust in Jesus - to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-40). If we save money, it is to provide for our families and for those in need. In our excess, we provide others with shelter, food, clothing, and a place of refuge. If we do not have financial resources, then we offer our time, energy, and care to those in need of a friend. With our investments, we can plant seeds from which future generations can reap the fruits. Just as Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), our saving and investing is not for our own kingdom, but for the Lord’s. 

Eco-tip of the week - Consider investing financial resources in ‘Lend with Care’. Launched in September 2010, this microfinance lending website from the development charity, Care International UK, allows individuals and groups to make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, and help them work their way out of poverty. Microfinance from CARE International UK (