Caring for Creation
ICC is a Green Church in Denmark, and has renewed its diploma certifying its efforts to care for our environment. ICC makes careful use of resources such as electricity, water and heating.
When moving to a new country and immersing yourself in a new language, it can be tricky to make sense of what’s what when it comes to certifications and labels.
So to help, here are some of the labels to look for if you want to buy organic and environmentally-friendly products in Denmark!
Government-certified organic: The most familiar organic label in Denmark is the red Ø-label, indicating that a product meets a set of common requirements to be certified as organic by the Danish state. Organic products avoid the use of pesticides, genetically engineered crops, and many synthetic colors and flavors in the production.
EU-certified organic: The EU organic logo is a label indicating that a product is organic, and that it is produced and controlled in accordance with EU Regulations for organic products. Similar to the Danish label above, but for products produced outside of Denmark.
The Flower and the Swan: The Flower is the European Ecolabel and the Swan is the Nordic Ecolabel for household cleaners and personal hygiene products – look for these on soaps, detergents, creams and more! Both are officially recognized by the Danish authorities and have an independent control. Products that are labelled with the Flower or the Swan are among the least environmentally damaging of their kind, their quality and function are at least as good as for other products, and they do not contain harmful substances. These ecolabels are independent of producers, brands and financial interests.
The Fairtrade Mark: a registered certification label for products sourced from
producers in developing countries. The mark is a guarantee that farmers recieve a fair
price for their products. In Denmark there are two organisations for fair trade: Fair
Trade Danmark and Fair Trade Mærket – Danmark.
Änglamark: The COOP group is a Danish consumer co-operative that owns several of the large Danish supermarket chains. They have their own label, Änglamark, which the use to label COOP products that consists of a large selection of organic, environmentally friendly and allergy-friendly options.
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council): To guide purchases of paper and wood products, look for the FSC- mark. FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. In addition to environmental protection, the label also focuses on education, safe work practices and fair payment for labourers. See also: https://us.fsc.org/
MSC (Marine Stewardship Council): When purchasing fish and fish products, look for the MSC-mark. By choosing MSC labelled seafood, you reward fisheries that are committed to sustainable fishing practices.
Green Ideas for a Good Stewardship Life
Here are some ideas from the Green Team for a Good Stewardship Life:
1) Swap Household Cleaners
Switching to green cleaners reduces air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.
2) Go Meatless on Mondays
Having a pasta or vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car. Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.
3) Microwave Glass, Never Plastic
Heating plastics can cause leaching into food and may contain hormone-disrupting compounds (not just the much maligned versions made with bisphenol-A or BPA). Plastics that are labeled “microwave-safe” can simply withstand a higher temperature before losing their shape. So when popping anything in the microwave, opt for glass or microwave-safe ceramics.
4) Don’t Dump, Donate
By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill. Take items to a thrift store, a charity that accepts donations.
5) Select Fragrance-Free Products
Conventional fragrances often contain chemicals believed to disrupt hormones, and they can be harmful to the ecosystem when washed down the drain. If you like perfumed soaps, cleaning products, or cosmetics, read labels to find those made with essential oils.
Green tips from the Congregation
- If you don’t have a dual flushing toilet, put a filled container in the cistern to use less water.
- Remember to carry a bag with you when shopping so you don’t have to buy a new one.
- Fly less and offset your CO2 emissions when you do. CO2 emissions are 2½ times more damaging at great heights than on ground. When flying for work or holiday, consider planting a tree occasionally. Rather than airline carbon offset schemes which have no transparency use a charity with provenance e.g. http://www.climatefriendly.com and http://www.treesforlife.org.uk.
- Sign up for electricity supplied from renewable energy supplier, your existing electricity company may have an alternative. If you live in an apartment block, ask your residents committee to consider it.
- Draughty letter boxes and gaps under doors lose heat, its simple and cheap to ensure yours are draught proof before we go into winter again.
- Carefully open magazine plastic wrappers, they can be reused as sandwich or freezer bags.
- Before throwing something away, consider if it can be recycled or given away and if you need a new product for your home or clothes, try the second hand shops (genbrug).
- Turn the tap off whilst brushing your teeth – we all need reminding sometimes!
- Try to recycle your old mobile phone through a Telenor store. They boasted that 304,000 handsets and mobile batteries were collected in Telenor Group in 2011 but their website is silent now (with my limited Danish).
- Drink water from the tap and try to avoid buying bottled water. Plastic water bottles are a huge environmental burden – both the production of them and the disposing of them after use.
- Turn your computer screen off manually every time you use it (work and home).
- Reduce your use of cars. Use public transportation and your bike as often as possible. If you own a car, consider a hybrid or electric care next time you purchase one.
- Eat less meat and when you buy meat try to buy meat from animals that are produced outside (fritgående). The production of one kilo meat emits 66 times that of one kilo potatoes.
- If possible, harvest rain water and use it to water plants.
- If you have one, don’t pave your garden, but leave the ground open to swallow water.
- Become vocal – join a group or talk about climate change and what we can do to curb it.
- Seek out and support communities, shops, organisations and products that promote sustainability. When buying food and household products, look for green labels!
- Make small changes. Act as if you can make a difference. Even if it seems like a drop in the ocean, keep hoping.