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Green Team

Tree of Life Congregation’s Green Team was created to help us follow our duty of Tikkun Olam, to repair the world and protect God’s creation. The Green Team is open to all members of the congregation who want to live a greener life. Tree of Life Congregation became a Green Congregation in January 2011, after participating in a year-long pilot program sponsored by the City of Columbia Climate Protection Action Campaign. To earn the award we had to complete a congregational environmental project, as well as one for individual members. We selected water pollution prevention and recycling as our goals.



  • 2010 Award received from the Richland County Appearance Commission
  • 2014 Midlands Green Award, awarded by Keep the Midlands Beautiful for a Community/Neighborhood
  • 2016 conservation awards from the Town of Arcadia Lakes and the Richland County Conservation Commission
  • 2016 Travel Justly grant for composting at the Big Nosh, awarded by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Green Team at a Glance

Tree of Life’s Green Team helps our Congregation care for the world by making our facility and grounds more environmentally friendly and by encouraging members to live greener lives. Our actions include the following:

  • We filter all our stormwater in our award-winning rain garden.
  • We created a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat.
  • We are a Certified Carolina Yard
  • We are a Richland County Partner for Healthy Watersheds
  • We are a member of the Gills Creek Watershed Association
  • We offer educational programs for all ages and involve our youth in our endeavors.
  • We use environmentally friendly cleaning products, and encourage use of reusable, recyclable, or compostable products.
  • We recycle 18 different materials including all materials accepted by Richland County, office paper, plastic 6-pack rings, plastic caps, and batteries. We also collect old cell phones for Sistercare.
  • We compost yard waste, and all food waste at our annual cultural festival The Big Nosh.
  • We participated in the construction of the first green home for Habitat for Humanity.
  • We participated in the Forest Acres Green Festival.
  • We display our rain garden at the Arcadia Lakes Annual Picnic and at the Tree of Life’s Annual Big Nosh.  Our Big Nosh display includes a watershed education exhibit.

Arcadia Lakes/Tree of Life Rain Garden

The Arcadia Lakes / Tree of Life rain garden was created by a partnership of the Town of Arcadia Lakes, the Tree of Life Congregation, and the Richland County Conservation Commission.  The Gills Creek Watershed Association also provided assistance. The garden collects stormwater from the Tree of Life parking lot and rooftop and traps it before entering Cary Lake (across the street).  Pollutants such as oil, gas, and dirt are absorbed before entering Cary Lake, and trash is prevented from entering also.  Therefore, the water entering Cary Lake is now cleaner that it would have been if water was piped directly to it.

Our rain garden has served as an educational tool for Richland 2 Schools, USC, the Gills Creek Watershed Association, our own religious school students, and several garden clubs. For additional information and pictures of our rain garden, view The Story Behind the Rain Garden.

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784