Jesuit communities and works in Australia have been actively working to improve their environmental sustainability for many years, according to surveys conducted by the Australian Jesuit Province: Reconciliation with Creation (RwC) Advisory Group.
Last August, the group administered a survey to 53 Jesuit communities and works via email and over the course of three months received 31 responses (58 per cent). The survey asked similar questions to a 2010 RwC survey conducted within the Province.
In both surveys, environmental education, ecological conversion, sustainable land use and waste reduction came out as the areas with the highest level of environmental achievement. The fifth area differed. In the 2010 survey, this was water use whereas in the 2017 survey, it was energy use.
The 2017 survey also asked what RwC activities Jesuit communities and works have committed to completing over the next five years (2018-2023). The greatest number of RwC commitments were in using only recycled paper, improving building insulation/draught proofing, reducing/reusing materials, landscaping to capture, use and clean storm water, eliminating/reducing the use of bottled water and providing liturgy/prayer to facilitate ecological conversion.
The survey returns showed a low level of commitment to using site-grown food, engaging with traditional owners and other Indigenous people about land use/environmental issues and installing more energy-efficient lighting.
Twenty-two respondents (71 per cent) wanted assistance with RwC activities. In this, the most popular areas are economic/cultural sustainability, transport, energy use and food. Only six respondents offered to assist others with RwC issues.
The report also offers some explanations for the survey results and the difficulties that Jesuit communities and works have experienced in addressing RwC issues.
In addition, the report recommends that Jesuit communities and works could quickly and easily improve their environmental impact by, for example, installing ceiling insulation, using E10 and biofuels, buying only recycled paper and buying only electricity from renewable sources.
It also recommends that the Province RwC Advisory Group address the top 29 of respondents’ requests for assistance over the next two years through the provision of information, linking Jesuit communities/works with tertiary education institutions for student/pro bono assistance, and arranging for prayer/liturgy suggestions from centres of Ignatian Spirituality. [Australian Jesuit News]