Did you know that Reach Beyond UK is now a ‘sustainable organisation’?
But what on earth does that mean? Well, the clue is in the question.
We have made a commitment to protect, as much as we can, the earth – God’s creation - from the impact of our activities.
If mission agencies keep on producing carbon emissions at their current rate, we will create big problems, not just for ourselves, but for all the people across the world we are trying to reach with God’s message.
In fact, it’s often those who live in areas of the world most effected by drought, crop failure, deforestation and flooding who are least likely to have heard of Jesus. They have few financial resources to fall back on and the least social and legal protection. They are also the people who have contributed least to the problem!
So, what can we do to ease the burden of those who are suffering from the impact of climate change?
We all produce carbon in our daily lives, but as an international mission agency, our carbon footprint is bigger than that of an individual or a family due to the amount of travelling we do, especially flying. We know this, because we have started to measure our output – our ‘carbon footprint’ – across all our activities. In addition to travel, this includes heating and lighting our offices, the food we produce and serve, even how many cups of coffee we drink!
Reach Beyond UK is using an online tool created by a Christian environmental group called Climate Stewards to do this. You too can measure your carbon footprint using this tool by going to their website at climatestewards.org.
The results of our assessment have helped us to work out the areas where we can cut Reach Beyond UK’s carbon emissions in future. For example, we are committed to trains and minibuses rather than planes whenever possible, and making sure our offices make efficient use of energy.
But what about the carbon emissions we can’t avoid?
That’s where something called ‘carbon offsetting’ comes in. This just means that for all the carbon we emit, we do things that either take an equal amount of carbon out of the atmosphere or stop other carbon from being produced. When you combine reducing your emissions where you can, with offsetting what you can’t, you are able to claim that you are a ‘carbon neutral’ or a ‘carbon net zero’ organisation.
Reach Beyond UK has already achieved this, but an important part of the commitment we have made to creation care means that we must always be thinking of new ways to improve.
We have decided to offset our carbon emissions with Climate Stewards because their offsetting schemes are not only designed to reduce carbon, but also to benefit local communities where the schemes are located. In India, Africa, and South America, they run projects including tree planting, supplying lower emission cooking stoves, recycling, and water filtration. They partner with local organisations to make sure the benefits are delivered directly to the communities involved.
Written by Sam and Tim O’Brien, Sustainability Champions for Reach Beyond UK
Click here to see what other changes we are making to bring sustainable hope to the communities we seek to reach with the gospel.