Looking after God's creation

The definition of ‘being a good steward’ can be interpreted in many ways and Churches of Christ in Queensland’s Fleet, Procurement and Sustainability Group Manager, Richard Schuster admits, it’s a constant fine line.

“If you look at stewardship in terms of our work here, we ask ‘are we being responsible with our money?’, but we also ask the question, ‘Are we looking after God’s creation?’” Richard said.

The organisation is fine-tuning its sustainability strategy—and while there is so much to do, there is also a lot to be proud of, including the features in our new Head Office building.

“Our building has been designed with the environment clearly a focus, with solar power potentially saving 210 tonnes of CO2 annually, spaces for electric and hybrid cars in the carpark, and even cleaning products that are biodegradable,” he said.

An organisation Richard looks up to and admires in the not-for-profit sector is the Uniting Church in South Australia, the first registered charity in Australia to be Certified Carbon Neutral. The organisation received the

Premier’s Award for reducing their carbon footprint, reducing electricity consumption, company fleet fuel, and waste to landfill. Richard would like to see Churches of Christ in Queensland in this league.

As a speaker at last year’s Centrifuge event as part of Celebrate 2016, Richard challenged staff to think greener. And the response was encouraging.

“People were suggesting ways we, as an organisation and individuals, could do better for the environment. It showed there is a good appetite within the organisation to push for sustainability,” Richard said.

With that in mind, he is focused on examining what we could do better.

“Our carbon footprint as an organisation looks like being of the order of 21,100 tonnes of CO2, that’s not good. Our aged care services generate over one million continence pads per year and these go to landfill. Our 500 vehicles consume three-quarters of a million litres of fuel annually.”

One myth that Richard believes is a barrier to any organisation choosing more environmentally friendly work practices is that it costs to be green.

“Look at it over a longer timeframe, from our experience, Churches of Christ in Queensland is actually reducing their overall costs with the sustainable infrastructure and policies we have already put in place.

“We all need to keep questioning how we can be good stewards in our everyday life and work. It’s more than just turning off our computers and lights when we leave the office.

“This is God’s world. He put us in charge and if we, the church, can’t be looking after the Earth, who should? We can’t not do this.”

What are we doing?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

Two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a part of our fleet, and will be charged predominantly from solar generated through the panels on the roof of the Head Office building. The vehicles can travel approximate 40 kilometres on battery power alone, and a further 450 kilometres on the petrol engine.

Hybrid cars

Ten Hybrid Toyota Corollas have been purchased to become a part of our fleet. With lower fuel consumption because of their batteries, which charge when braking and rolling downhill, they are better for the environment.

Tree planting

We are planting approximately 7,000 trees on the Gold Coast and in Bundaberg through Greenfleet to offset the 1,900 tonnes of carbon emissions produced from our vehicle fleet.
As the trees grow, the native forests capture carbon pollution from the atmosphere, provide vital habitat to native wildlife, conserve biodiversity and generate resilience to climate change in the landscape.

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Posted June 8, 2017 in Networking blog