Task of the Month Program

Quick link to Task of the Month Documents

What Are We Waiting For?

We know that caring for the earth is part of our spiritual calling. And we know that in part, that means we must use less energy in our homes, in order to reduce greenhouse gases that result in global climate change, and to conserve the earth’s precious resources. Yet for many of us, the sheer quantity of actions to take is overwhelming. The Task of the Month Program focuses on one action area at a time, encourages the whole congregation to accomplish that one task, creating a sense of camaraderie and ensuring that the most important steps will be taken.

Overview:

1. Introduce the program in a way that engages your whole congregation. Sermons, film screenings, pitch-in dinners, and pledges have been successful for many congregations.
2. Inform your congregation of the task to be completed each month. Promote and encourage participation throughout the month.
3. Provide support needed for people to accomplish the task.
4. Keep a record of the households that have completed the month's task.
5. Report results, and celebrate!

See how some congregations are announcing the program!

Promoting:

Ensure that all members of your faith community are made aware of the program and encouraged to participate. Remind people of the spiritual basis of this work, and the significance of our actions when we all work together. Here are some ideas for getting the word out:
• Ask clergy to speak about the program from the pulpit, emphasizing the faith connection.
• Kick off the program with a film showing, guest speaker, or discussion to inform the congregation of the need for action. (Earth Care can provide some resources and recommendations, if desired.)
• Create a poster display or a bulletin board. Earth Care has produced posters for each month, which can be customized as desired.
• Set up a table during coffee hour where people can sign up, report results, see past projects, get information, make donations, etc.
• Remind people of the month’s task in each newsletter.
• Place information about the program on your congregation's website.

Participation:

Set your goals high. Why not 100%? Here are some tips for building momentum and making this a community-wide effort:

• Have people add their names to a list when they’ve completed the task. People who had already completed the task before this program began can put their names on the list right away; enlist those folks in helping others get the job done. Forms are included in the Toolkit.
• Provide an “advanced” version of the task for those who wish to do more (i.e. if the task is saving water by installing a low-flow showerhead, invite people who have already done that to take on replacing an old toilet, or installing a rainbarrel.)
• Invite those who are able to donate the cost of an item (or even just a couple dollars!) to a fund to help those who can’t afford it.
• Encourage renters to talk to their landlords, and if they won’t take action see if it would help if the congregation provided at least part of the funding to get it done.
• Provide “I Did It!” buttons for people who complete the task (then collect the buttons to be re-used the following month).
• Consider offering incentives such as raffles, announcing in a newsletter who has completed the task, etc.

Modeling Changes:

Find out whether these tasks have been completed at your congregation's place of worship; if not, try to get them done along with the households each month! While not all the tasks will be applicable, this program can provide a good start toward "greening" your congregation -- and bolster your members' resolve to accomplish these changes at home.

Reporting Results:

Please record and report your results both to your congregation and to Earth Care, so that we all can see the collective impact of our actions. A form for recording results is included in the Toolkit.

Celebrate achievements! Let this work be a joyful expression of your connection to Creation. Come together as a community to give thanks for the opportunity to be stewards of the earth, and acknowledge the power of your faith in action as we face the crisis of global climate change.

Suggested schedule of actions:


January Insulate water heater and lower water heater temperature to 120F. Savings: $15/yr
February Insulate hot & cold water pipes. Savings: $3/yr
March Install and use a programmable thermostat. Savings: $60/yr
April Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. Savings: $25/yr
May Air dry clothes in summer; wash clothes in cold water. Savings: $60/yr
June Increase AC thermostat by at least 3 degrees F. Savings: $20/yr
July Replace 6 interior and 1 exterior incandescent bulbs. Savings: $40/yr
August Weatherize windows and doors. Savings: $30/yr
September Seal large air leaks. Savings: $80/yr
October Add attic insulation; seal and insulate ducts. Savings: $200/yr
November Lower thermostat in winter by at least 2 degrees Savings: $20/yr
December Cut phantom energy loads by half or more. Savings: $25/yr

Total savings per household: $500, or 10,000 lbs/yr CO2*

*Note: all cost and savings figures are estimates based on national averages, as reported by the Rocky Mountan Institute. Individual results will vary.

Choosing tasks:

For the convenience of the participating congregations, Earth Care has designated one action area per month and has developed materials for each. However, communities are welcome to customize the program as desired, changing the order of actions or substituting others. The actions included in the original program were chosen based upon their potential impact and return on investment (i.e. low-cost actions with big effects are highest priority).

If you choose to customize the program, please keep these points in mind:
• Before asking an entire congregation focus on a task, make sure it’s a worthwhile one!
• The tasks don’t have to be easy, as long as you provide support for dealing with whatever makes it difficult (does it require skill? Provide expertise. Is it costly? Negotiate discounts and come up with funding, and so on).
• You might want to start with something relatively easy (i.e. install a low-flow shower head) or that will produce immediate results (switch to CFLs) or that has a visibility factor (i.e. reusable bags: have some printed with your congregation’s logo or a message, or have children decorate them, etc.)
• Provide an alternative (“advanced”) action for those who have already completed the task and wish to do more.
• See publications by the Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org) and other organizations for guidance on choosing tasks.