As a local Vineyard church, we are called to extend God’s kingdom together, everywhere, in every way. As followers of Jesus, our mandate is to love & serve God, love & serve our neighbours and love & serve the world in which we live. A key element of that mandate involves extending God’s kingdom to the environment.
Sadly, we’ve discovered that, despite our best efforts, we may not be quite as green as we’d hoped. When we moved back to the Ark a couple of years ago, we replaced our existing one-use cups with the intentionally green, recyclable and compostable variety.
Unfortunately, and somewhat unbeknownst to us, Wandsworth Council’s waste facilities don’t yet lend themselves to the proper disposal of these cups and so we’ve discovered that, rather than being properly recycled, these cups are being sent for incineration.
The Council have advised us that:
‘All residual waste collected by the Council is now sent for incineration with energy recovery to generate electricity for the National Grid, not landfill. This is generally regarded as an environmental step forward and according to available carbon calculator tools represents a significant carbon saving compared to landfill. This is in part because compostable items such as paper, garden and food waste mainly decompose anaerobically when sent to landfill rather than composting which is an aerobic process. This produces methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas compared to CO2, and much of this methane escapes to the atmosphere. After rubbish is collected it is taken to one of the Wandsworth waste transfer stations where it is bulked and loaded onto barges. It is then taken to an energy-from-waste incinerator at Belvedere. This uses the heat from burning Wandsworth's residual rubbish to generate enough electricity for the National Grid to power over 13,000 homes.
Now, whilst incineration would seem to be more environmentally-friendly than landfill, it isn’t what we had intended when we invested in compostable and recyclable cups.
As a church, we are committed to seeing the kingdom of God extended everywhere, and in every way, and therefore, over the coming months, we will be phasing out the use of compostable cups completely.
We are delighted to see how many of the congregation bring their own reusable cups regularly on a Sunday and, to encourage us all to make this positive step, from Sunday 24 March 2019 we will be making a range of reusable cups available for purchase on a Sunday. These cups, which normally retail between £10-£13 will be available to buy at a special discounted price of £5.00.
Over the next few months we will have a range of both rCup and Stojo cups available for purchase, alongside the use of china mugs. We will keep a supply of compostable cups available for use, but once we have run out we will not be replacing them.
This move works alongside our existing efforts as a church to minimise our environmental impact both as a church and as individuals:
- For some time, our coffee has been supplied by the direct trade company Ethical Addictions, who pride themselves on better than Fair Trade conditions for their farmers and suppliers.
- All our Sunday Team T-Shirts are supplied by Rapanui, an Organic Farmed Cotton supplier.
- Where possible food & drinks are FairTrade and we are constantly looking at different product ranges to improve on this wherever we can.
- Working in partnership with bio-bean, an award-winning clean technology company, we are now recycling all used coffee grounds. These are then turned into a range of biofuels and biochemicals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and displacing conventional fossil fuels.
But, of course, we can always be doing more. Over the coming months the Staff & Trustees will be working on an Environmental Impact Audit to review all our practices as we explore some of the ways we can reduce our environmental impact. We are in talks with experts in the field who have agreed to help us as we develop a more meaningful approach over the coming years.
Finally, we would love to hear from you! Your thoughts, ideas, experience & expertise would be very much appreciated as together we seek God’s kingdom in this important area of our lives.
Neil & Kate