The Rev. Gail Newell, curate at Christ Church Hope
I've always thought of myself as a quiet environmentalist. It was my husband Craig who forged ahead actively seeking ways to protect the environment. I just began to incorporate various lifestyle changes and practices as we became aware of them.

Before we were married, I introduced Craig to hiking. He fell in love with being in God's wild places and we moved to BC to live in a province with mountains to hike in. That led to an interest to preserve these places in particular, but also the environment in general.

We lived in Richmond and as the kids grew, they became involved in it as well. Curbside pickup has made recycling so much easier now, but there was something about tossing the glass into those big bins and hearing the crash and tinkle that was immense fun.

When we choose to eat organic produce and take care of our lawns and gardens without pesticides we're helping the farmer and ourselves live healthier lives without poisons. My lawn in Hope at times seems full of weeds, but I just have to look out to see the beautiful blue Stellar Jays and Northern Flickers pecking for food in it to resolve again to pull the weeds instead of using weed killer (strong vinegar works well on sidewalks and driveways).

I also have a grandson who is a year and a half and likes to eat dandelions! I'd much rather feed him berries and vegetables from my garden, but if he finds dandelions I haven't pulled, I don't want him to be consuming pesticides too.

We discovered recycling alone wasn't enough and began buying products made of recycled material. It is not just paper for your printer, bathroom or kitchen, but also clothing, lawn chairs and lots of other things can be made of recycled plastic. Sometimes a little creativity helps. When my son's neighbour tore down his fence, the middle of the boards were in good condition. I cut off the ends, painted them and now have a compost bin for the price of paint and nails. Composting the mounds of leaves from my cherry tree saves me the price of fertilizer.

If I made it easy to adopt new habits I could keep them up. My reusable shopping bags live in my car so they are ready for any time I have to shop. When they are unloaded at home they go immediately to the front door to be taken back out to the car. My recycling bin is close to the sink to receive cans and jars.

Many changes are small and inexpensive. Others take some planning. To reduce our gas use and make our south facing home more comfortable in summer and winter we first put in UV blocking windows. The following year we put in a heat pump that cools the house in the summer and heats it most of the winter using clean electric power rather than burning natural gas. Our gas furnace is a backup for when it is too cold for the pump to generate heat. The gas furnace has only come on once this fall!

Parishioners of Christ Church Hope help repair their church building and make it more environmentally friendly
Caring for the environment is healthy in other ways. I love how close everything is in Hope. I can get to most places on my bike or by walking and exercise my heart at the same time. I just have to be organized enough to have a little extra time to get there!

When I was placed at Christ Church I was pleased to see the beginnings of environmental awareness. Recycling was already going on in the office and hall. Kyra Bailey instituted recycling of bulletins in the church and we use bulletin inserts for hymns and prayers to make it easy to reuse them. When we replaced the Christmas lights we bought the LED type.

Johanna Coughlin has recently got BC Hydro to do their free evaluation to give us hints on how to further reduce our consumption. Joan Sjovold is working on the planting of native plants that add beauty while taking less time to maintain.

Learning to live in an environmentally friendly way is a journey made up of many steps-one at a time. Change one habit at a time. Give yourself time to get comfortable between steps. One day you look back and see you've made many steps which add up to meaningful change that makes the world a better place to live for both us and the rest of creation.

Gail Newell is curate at Christ Church, Hope, and a member of the Diocesan Environmental Unit.