St. Lukes Uniting Church, Highton VIC

Local Church Leads War on Waste

St. Luke’s Uniting Church, Highton were recognised for their dedicated work for the environment on Sunday with the presentation of two of Australia’s most prestigious environmental awards for churches.

St. Luke’s received two Five Leaf Eco-Awards, the Basic Certificate and Eco-Worship award, making them the 32nd church in Australia to be celebrated for their environmental achievements. The Five Leaf Eco-Awards are a national ecumenical environmental change initiative that assists, inspires and rewards churches and religious organisations for environmental action. There are currently six non-competitive awards of varying difficulty available.

St Luke’s Uniting Church, Highton, have been caring for creation for over a decade. In 2007, St Luke’s started a project to reduce their carbon footprint by conducting an audit of their energy, water and transport, with the help of auditor Joel Meadows.

Major areas of energy use, such as inefficient heating, an old photocopier without a standby mode, and incandescent light bulbs were identified and replaced with more energy efficient alternatives. The St Luke’s Environmental Group also drove an emphasis on turning off appliances immediately after use, and arranged public forums on environmental issues. In 2008 they achieved a 22% reduction in their energy use!

In 2015, the church participated in their local Climate March, along with others held around Australia. In 2016 they held a Bible Study looking at the Spirituality of Soil, participated in Clean Up Australia Day and volunteered with the Port Phillip EcoCentre. They replanted their manse with native plants, celebrated National Tree Day with a planting event at Uniting Care Grovedale and held a green film night for World Environment Day. They also participated in the Season of Creation, helped the Uniting Church Grovedale to set up a vegie patch for their Food bank and have done weeding work with their local Friends of Buckley Falls Group.

They have supported their work with a Facebook discussion group, and in August started a Repair Café to reduce waste going to landfill. On World Environment Day 2017 (the 5th of June), congregation members took a pledge to live with “No Plastic”– by not using any plastic bags, taking re-usable containers to cafes and shops, buying products not packaged in plastic and carrying their own water bottles.

Five Leaf Eco-Awards Founder and Director, Jessica Morthorpe, who travelled to Geelong to present the awards, said, “I’m really impressed by everything that St Luke’s has achieved, and I can’t wait to see where their Environmental Action Group will take their war on waste next!”

Ms Morthorpe said “Christian eco-theology and teaching on the environment make it very clear that caring for Creation is a vital priority for the Church.

“All around the world churches are embracing action, and in Australia, our network of Five Leaf Eco-Awards churches is at the forefront of this growing church greening movement. It’s a really exciting thing to be part of.”

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