Green Reflections – Mindful or Mindless?

The City of Long Beach recently made some big changes to its recycling guidelines particularly for plastic products. The days of blissfully tossing everything made of plastic into my purple bin and feeling like I was making a difference are over.

In the last few years there has been plenty of news about the struggles that the recycling industry is facing as it looks for sustainable ways to manage the waste that we produce. That news seemed to be like a faraway problem that didn’t concern me until recently when I had to start throwing most of my plastic products into the trash instead of the recycle bin. Even though I’m an active member of the Green Team and an ecologist, I don’t always make environmentally friendly choices in my life. Shocking, right? I’m a busy person who has good intentions but sometimes needs to grab a plastic fork or feels like grabbing a cup of tea to-go from my local coffee-shop.

The truth is that the only thing that has actually changed here is my awareness of where my plastic products are going. Instead of beating myself about what plastics I throw away, I have decided to use this as an opportunity for mindfulness. Every time I stand over the trash bin with plastic in hand, I remind myself how the system is broken and that I am committed to making a difference. I give thanks for the ease and convenience of plastic products while still understanding that it’s time to search for other alternatives in my life.

A great way to get started on these important changes is to get educated. The City of Long Beach’s Sustainability department offers many educational workshops on waste reduction, recycling, and composting.

As we head into the busy holiday season, it can be even more challenging to stay grounded in the present moment. I hope that this note inspires you to slow down so that you too can be more aware of what you are throwing in the trash. With that new awareness you may think of some new and creative ways to reduce waste in your household.

You can find out more about the new recycling guidelines here.

Wishing you a happy (and green) holiday!

Josie Bennett
UU Green Team

Our Green Team formed in 2014 to continue work on environmental issues. The Green Team developed the Solar Panel Project, which culminated in a successful fund raising event and the installation of Solar Panels on the church in July 2015.

Earth Day 2020

-April 19, 2020

Earth Day Forum

The Green Team pulled together a forum to discuss with our viewers on zoom: Earth Day and the status of the climate today, current legislation, and the story of plastic in the time of Covid19. Presented were ways you, as an individual and as a member of the church, can help to mitigate the effects of Climate Change. Included in the presentation were some of the following links that can help you learn more about what’s possible. Go from learning to action!

Begin. You don’t have to change everything in your life, but we all, collectively, have to begin and challenge ourselves with new opportunities to save our planet.

The “Energy Innovation and Climate Dividend Act” H.R.763—

The National Citizens Climate Lobby website—

Long Beach South Bay Chapter Leader of CCL, Edric Guise

Reduce plastic consumption, purchase from Bring Your Own Long Beach— BYO Long Beach. We have the good fortune to have two of the few stores in the nation dedicated to reducing the use of plastics in cleaning your home, personal grooming and food storage. Purchase on-line during Covid19. Pick-up or have it delivered: BYO Long Beach 

ALAMITOS BAY MARINA, 148 N Marina Drive, Long Beach, (562) 598-4889

DOWNTOWN LONG BEACH, East Village Arts District, 431 E 1st Street (Between Linden & Elm), (562) 435-3069

The Types of Plastics Families Should Avoid

Some household plastics contain carcinogens and have deleterious effects on young members of our families. This NY Times article explores: which plastics are worrisome, why you should reduce your exposure, why to prioritize fresh whole foods, why to avoid using certain types of plastic containers and heating plastics, why to reduce exposure to dust and swap out vinyl products. This article may change your belief in the “cleanliness” of plastic. Link to: PLASTICS TO AVOID

Film “The Story of Plastics” viewing at Home

Take a trek through the supply chain that begins with fracked natural gas in the United States and ends with literal mountains of plastic waste on the other side of the world. Watch: The Story of Plastics

Break Free from Plastic Act of 2020

What it says and how to support it: The PDF and Advocacy

Other Resources:


EcoWatch—Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

The real story of compostable dinnerware Plastic to-go containers are bad, but are the alternatives any better?

DIY Disinfectants during Covid19

Cleaning using household items with a focus on the environment. The Washington Post carries a great article on how to make do, when you can’t find the cleaners in your store using bleach, alcohol, soap, vinegar, baking soda, oil and lemon.


A Brief History of Our Green Sanctuary

A Green Sanctuary is a congregation that lives out its commitment to the Earth by creating a sustainable life style for its members as individuals and as a faith community. Sustainable living is not about our material comfort (though these choices are an important part of the overall lifestyle); it is about choosing to live in a way that nurtures life, builds relationships, and rejects material consumption as the sole measure of happiness.

In 2007, the Green Sanctuary leaders began to gather information about current energy consumption, recycling habits, food and shopping choices, and the use of toxic substances – both around the campus and at the homes of members. Based on that data, the Green Sanctuary leaders identified areas for education and improvement and are currently designing twelve projects to submit with the application for Candidacy in the UUA Green Sanctuary Program.

As of 2013, much of the work for Green Sanctuary Certification had been done. We have held services, improved our water and electric usage, planted native plants, held classes on vegan eating, saved a local park, and monitored air quality projects near the port. One big piece we are missing is an all church project for environmental justice in which we partner with another organization. Please contact Social Justice HERE, if you have ideas for this project.


On May 7, 2017, our congregation unanimously passed the following:

Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach
Resolution on Climate Change

WHEREAS, global climate change is a moral and ethical crisis induced and exacerbated by human activity; and

WHEREAS, this climate crisis can and must be addressed to maintain a livable world for ourselves, our descendants, and all species; and

WHEREAS, we recognize that, while our individual efforts to be non-polluters are important, we cannot solely rely on personal choice to halt climate change; and

WHEREAS, on Aug. 23, 2016, the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, in AJR 43 jointly urged the United States Congress to enact, without delay, a tax on carbon-based fossil fuels, with the tax revenue being returned to middle and low-income households; and

WHEREAS, on Sept 20, 2016, 375 National Academy of Sciences members signed an open letter expressing frustration at political inaction on climate change; and

WHEREAS, as of December 2016, 195 UN member nations, including the United States, have signed the “Paris Agreement” COP21 which sets global standards and timelines for worldwide reduction of greenhouse gases, and the Paris Agreement entered into force; and

WHEREAS, Unitarian Universalists overwhelmingly voted to adopt a Statement of Conscience on the Threat of Global Warming and Climate Change in 2006, and voted again in 2015 to pass a Resolution on Climate Change; and

WHEREAS, in October 2014, Peter Morales, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President and Bill Schulz, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) President and CEO, both affirmed that, “The crisis of climate change is the gravest threat facing our world today”; and

WHEREAS, 77 members and friends of UUCLB signed the “Paris Pledge” in an act of solidarity with global leaders and nations before the 2015 UN Climate Talks in Paris; and

WHEREAS, our Unitarian Universalist Principles compel us to act on climate change; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach calls on the US Congress to keep the promises our country made at the “Paris Agreement,” to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the first carbon legislation must place a fee on fossil fuels, and that revenue from said carbon fee be returned to all American households to protect them from the impact of rising fuel prices and to stimulate the economy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach commits as a congregation to actively support any campaign or legislation, approved by our Board of Trustees, to mitigate climate change on the local, state and national level.

The Green Team is also encouraging support of these Local and Interfaith Climate initiatives:

Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Long Beach

Interfaith Power and Light

Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth

We also encourage more recycling, and frequently include green tips in our Order of Service or Announcements.