CatholicCare Social Services has achieved the Bronze Level GreenBizCheck Certification after implementing an Environmental Sustainability Program that successfully ticks off 60% of office-based environmental recommendations, detailed by GreenBizCheck and facilitated by Coefficiency.
Sister Eileen Quade RSM, Chairperson of CatholicCare Social Services’ Sustainability Committee, is dedicated to reducing the organisation’s impact on the environment.
“We have a moral obligation and responsibility to care for the earth for future generations. We have a responsibility for the care of the earth because everything God has created has its own dignity,” she explained.
“If we are going to be serving people, we need to be serving people also through our care of the environment,” she added.
Sr Eileen commends the work of the Sustainability Committee in limiting the use of non-renewable resources, reducing water, electricity and paper use, as well as waste to landfill.
“We’ve had a very active committee. Their hard work, leadership and commitment has led to this certification,” she said.
“It has also been achieved through the cooperation and commitment of every staff member who has been taking practical steps to do whatever can be done in our workplace to care for and protect our environment.”
Through the use of Save Energy tags on all electrical switches, the committee has been able to monitor CatholicCare’s electricity usage. All printers have been set to default to black and white print, and paper goes in a recycle tray.
The Committee has endeavoured to involve the staff wherever possible in the sustainability goals.
“We’ve sent requests and reminders for people to have recycle and compost facilities in kitchen areas, and we have recycling containers for used batteries. We also ensure all our redundant mobile phones and IT equipment are sent to recycling and e-waste centres,” Sr Eileen said.
“We have even produced an Environmental Sustainability Policy and a set of Procedures for Waste Management and Water Efficiency,” Sr Eileen detailed.
“We’ve removed electrical water coolers, and use only eco-friendly sprays in bathrooms and environmentally friendly dishwashing liquids.
“We even had to obtain a bin for cigarette butts! It’s so funny the things we had to tick off to get this bronze certificate.”
The work of the Committee over the past two years has been affirmed by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, in which he called for people to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation.
“Pope Francis has supported us greatly. He really backed us up well,” Sr Eileen said.
In the lead-up to National Recycling Week, from 9-15 November, Sr Eileen is hopeful of the continued reduction of CatholicCare Social Service’s environmental footprint.
“I see this as further motivation for us to continue along the path we have begun and as a reminder to us to live up to our certification. If we can do this, we may even get to a Silver Certification in the future.”