What do we mean by reducing or eliminating, if possible, the use of toxic chemicals in the church? Toxic to whom? To pollinators such as butterflies and bees, of course. And also to children and all of us. Practically everywhere we turn, toxic and potentially toxic chemicals are part of our lives.
And how do we even get a handle on the issue? Here are some suggestions.
Check your nursery for vintage toys, furniture, plates and cups that may be toxic. While today's toys and food containers are safe, throw out anything wooden that may have been painted with lead-based paint (pre-1970), and any plastics that may contain BPA (bisphenol A) (as recent as a few years ago).
Check your lawn and garden. Can or has your church gone "organic," avoiding organophosphate pesticides and herbicides, especially glyphosate (Roundup)? Can you replace some of your grass area with beautiful and nearly maintenance-free prairie grasses and flowers? If you are unable to do that, and use a lawn service or apply your own, do you ensure that the Illinois Lawn Care Products Application and Notice Act is followed to the letter?
Check your bathrooms and kitchens for antibacterial soaps. Plain soap and water cleans better than so-called "antibacterial" products. FDA has banned 19 antibacterial additives, and there's special concern about triclosan.
Check your lights. If you haven't made the switch to LED lighting yet - or if you have and have a bunch of fluorescent tubes or CFL's you aren't using - they are hazardous waste containing mercury (chemical symbol, "Hg"). Don't put them in the trash; find out where they should be taken for recycling or disposal. More tips here.
Check your basement and kitchen. Don't resort to mouse poison when the mice move in in the fall. Google "bucket mousetrap" for a quick, efficient and toxin-free alternative to catching rats and mice, either alive for relocation, or dead. Look for other non-toxic solutions to problems with ants or other pests. They do exist! Sometimes it's a simple as pulling a table away from the wall.
Check your sanctuary! What do you do with the dead or weak batteries from your microphones? Can you use rechargables? Whether you use rechargeables or not, know where to take them for recycling or disposal. Keep them out of reach of toddlers!
Check your cleaners. Do those who clean your building use the least toxic cleaning products available? Even good old-fashioned baking soda and vinegar are effective cleaners! Have "green" cleaning products available in the kitchens, bathrooms, and janitor's closet, and make sure your custodians and anyone who cleans, use them.