Listen: Jo Herbert-James chats to Laura Bennett
With debate around climate change and sustainability raging, many are finding it hard to know what to believe, and whether their green choices make any difference.
That’s why this year’s Justice Conference in Melbourne will focus on the pursuit of sustainable practises, as a matter of justice that the church needs to act upon.
Conference speaker Jo Herbert-James from Tearfund UK says that caring for the environment needs to happen on both a national and a personal level. Talking to Laura Bennett, she explained why this is a Christian issue.
“We suddenly realise that our lifestyles inadvertently have impacted people in a really detrimental way.”
“There are many companies who are selling single-use plastic products in developing countries, who don’t have the infrastructure to deal with the waste that that creates,” she said. “They don’t have the recycling systems in place, and don’t have kerb-side collection in the way that many of us will experience.
“There’s an issue with Western countries whose waste management plan is to send their waste to other countries, because most of the time the [countries that receive it] are developing ones.
“It’s confronting, because we suddenly realise that our lifestyles inadvertently have impacted people in a really detrimental way.”
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Although Jo’s passion for environmental and economic sustainability is now at the forefront of her work, she admits as a Christian, it wasn’t always a top priority.
“When I started engaging with this issue,” said Jo, “I really wasn’t too interested in the environment; I became a Christian when I was young and I was passionate about my faith, and all I was interested in was me and my relationship with God; I thought issues around the environment had absolutely nothing to do with that.
“What I very quickly learned was that firstly, justice is a core part of the heart of God, and to seek Him and to seek His kingdom was to seek justice; [knowing that] climate change and sustainability undermine the lives of people living in poverty makes it a justice issue.
“Suddenly I realised that [a sustainable lifestyle] is about me faithfully bearing witness to Christ in a broken world, where we do see injustice and where we do see the exploitation of the environment… Sustainability is an invitation into greater faithfulness, greater witness, and an invitation deeper into the heart of God.”
Find out more about TEAR’s global Rubbish Campaign via tear.org.au/rubbish
The Justice Conference is on in Melbourne this week, November 15th-16th. Find out more at www.thejusticeconference.com.au.