In August 2017, the Australian Jesuit Province: Reconciliation with Creation (RwC) Advisory Group emailed a survey to 53 Jesuit communities and works. Over the following three months, 31 responses were received (58 per cent).
The survey asked similar questions to a 2010 RwC survey conducted within the Province. In both surveys the five areas with highest level of environmental achievement included: environmental education; ecological conversion; sustainable land use and waste reduction.
The 2010 survey’s top five areas of achievement also included water use, whereas the 2017 survey’s top five areas of achievement included energy use.
It is clear from both surveys that many Jesuit works have actively worked to improve their environmental sustainability for many years — some even before the 2010 survey.
The 2017 survey also asked what RwC activities Jesuit communities/works have committed to completing over the next five years (2018-23). 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 stormwater, 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) requested assistance with RwC activities. In order of popularity, the areas in which Jesuit communities and works have requested assistance are economic/cultural sustainability, transport, energy use and food. Only six respondents offered to assist others with RwC issues.
The report offers some explanations for the survey results and of 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.