Community

Iowa City workshop links consumerism to climate change

'We need to do the little stuff too.'

During the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light’s upcoming workshop in Iowa City on Sunday, Oct. 28, attendees will learn how to wrap gifts with fabric (shown here), rather than using non-recyclable wrapping paper. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Paulos)
During the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light’s upcoming workshop in Iowa City on Sunday, Oct. 28, attendees will learn how to wrap gifts with fabric (shown here), rather than using non-recyclable wrapping paper. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Paulos)
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With new research painting a daunting picture, it may seem climate change is something the average person can do nothing about.

According to the most recent report from the United Nations’ scientific panel, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at its current rate, the atmosphere will warm to a level that will flood coastlines with higher sea levels, intensify droughts, reduce crop yields and cause other effects that could be catastrophic to the Earth in less than 30 years.

Sarah Paulos believes everyday individuals can make a difference — and must, if people want to see a reduction in the United State’s carbon dioxide output.

“Consumers can actually have a huge impact if we can reduce the amount of stuff that we purchase,” said Paulos, program and outreach coordinator at the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light (IPL).

“We’re at the point where every little bit counts,” she added. “Yes, we need to do the big stuff, but we need to do little stuff too — and we can. We can all take part in reducing emissions and making it happen.”

Paulos and other officials at Iowa IPL, a statewide organization that mobilizes religious organizations in a movement to address climate change, hope to make that message clear in a workshop in Iowa City this weekend.

Called “The Good Life: Redefined,” the educational workshop will take place Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Wesley Student Center in Iowa City.

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The workshop is an educational session that connects faith traditions with caring for the Earth, particularly when it comes to consumerism.

Paulos said the United States’ “cultural obsession with stuff” has led to increased carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

And especially with Christmas just around the corner, Paulos hopes Sunday’s workshop will be effective in helping attendees understand steps they can take to consume less, therefore reducing their carbon footprint.

A main example is wrapping paper. Paulos said wrapping paper can’t be recycled due to components within the product, so she will be teaching workshop attendees how to use fabric for gift-wrapping this holiday season.

Paulos also hopes to encourage people to give “experience gifts” to their loved ones this year. That can include anything from a show at a nearby venue, a day spent baking or other activities that can’t be purchased from a store.

The workshop is co-sponsored by First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Iowa Hillel, the Newman Catholic Student Center and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future

It’s free to attend, and open to members of the public.

“No faith affiliation necessary because we need all hands on deck,” Paulos said. “I think the information we’ll share in this workshop will be useful to everyone.”

The Good Life: Redefined is the third workshop Iowa IPL has hosted this year. Paulos said they plan to host a fourth one in the spring.

The workshop series was funded by the Iowa City Community Partnership Climate Action fund.

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For more information, visit www.iowaipl.org or contact Sarah Paulos at programs@iowaipl.org.

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