The St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria is proud to announce that it has been certified carbon neutral under the Climate Active initiative, underpinned by the Australian government.
This is a significant achievement that sets Vinnies Victoria apart as the first social welfare charity in Australia to achieve the certification. Vinnies Victoria was supported by Telstra and Deloitte in the process and we are thankful to both organisations for their invaluable guidance and support.
The impact of climate change is on our minds more than ever as the coronavirus pandemic has made us all too aware of our collective vulnerability. Climate change has also been linked to the drought and bushfires that devastated communities around Australia this year.
It is our experience of assisting people affected by each of these crises, as well as our daily work with people on the frontline of poverty and disadvantage that underpins our commitment to achieving a sustainable, equitable future for all – #greenworks.
Our organisation is already working hard in the sustainability space through its contribution to the circular economy – last year Vinnies Shops sold almost 11.5 million items and garments to nearly 4 million customers, and through partnerships, diverted more than 3.5 million kilos of apparel and 10,000 mattresses away from landfill into reuse.
We are now taking accountability for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with these shop operations and our other charitable works. While the purchase of 10,000 tonnes of high-quality offsets is necessary this year, Vinnies Victoria commits to reducing our carbon footprint through a series of ongoing activities and supporting decarbonisation of the Australian economy.
Vinnies Victoria is acutely aware that society needs to decarbonise and leadership in this space is paramount. As Vinnies Victoria looks to provide practical assistance to people in need, we are motivated by the disproportionate impact climate change has on people living in poverty.
The support we have received from Telstra and Deloitte, brokered by our Policy and Research Manager Gavin Dufty, shows what can be achieved when business and the community sector work together.
Vinnies’ Victorian CEO Sue Cattermole sits on the advisory panel of Melbourne University’s Sustainable Society Institute and is passionate about the achievement.
‘The impact of climate change will be significant on social, economic and health system infrastructures and we know that the most vulnerable members of society will be worst affected,’ she said.
‘It is incumbent on all of us who can, to reduce our contribution to climate change.
‘We hope to be a driving force for positive change for other not-for-profits and businesses,’ Ms Cattermole said.
Through the purchase of offsets in hydro, solar and wind power, Vinnies Victoria is also investing in the renewable energy market so that other industries benefit.
There has been much media commentary on a green recovery when the coronavirus crisis eases and achieving carbon neutral certification means Vinnies Victoria is firmly part of the solution.
♦ Dee Rudebeck is PR and Communications Coordinator, St Vincent de Paul Victoria