Going Green is in the Bag (Wisconsin/Michigan)

Dan Gapinski knows how to make an entrance. When he was asked to make a presentation in front of colleagues at Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, he walked on stage wearing a “costume” of 200 plastic bags.
As chairperson of the LSS Green Team, Gapinski knew he had to make an impact in getting across the importance of recycling or reducing use of plastic bags. Though sources and statistics vary, 200 is probably on the low side in estimating the number of plastic bags the average American uses (and discards) each year.
LSS, led by Gapinski and the Green Team, institute a drive to collect plastic bags. Employees would bring in plastic bags, and if they did they received a reusable bag. All plastic bags collected were recycled.
Another effort supported by the Green Team but spearheaded by the LSS Wellness Team was a program to support gardening in 2011. Through a competitive process, the Wellness Team awarded nine programs funding to start or expand a garden. Each program submitted proposed goals for the 2011 growing season, which included the following: 
  • Reduce food waste by harvesting what can easily be consumed in a few days
  • Increase clients’ access to fresh, locally produced fruits and vegetables
  • Educate clients about the benefits of gardening and local produce
  • Create a compost bin to provide soil for next year's garden, and reduce the amount of waste the program produces
At the end of the growing season, each program reported back its results of their garden, and those responses are being used to further improve gardening efforts in 2012.
Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is a social ministry organizaton of the ELCA.
Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) is a grassroots movement within the ELCA seeking to foster care for God's good creation in all expressions of the church's life and mission. LRC is supported by grants from
ELCA World Hunger and the Lutheran Community Foundation.