Becoming a Sustainable Community

by the Trustees of Brighton Buddhist Centre

Making a commitment to moving towards becoming a sustainable Triratna Community
The request is for us as trustees of the Brighton Buddhist Centre to agree that we wish to make a strong commitment towards becoming a low-carbon, sustainable Community.

As a spiritual community we take our practice of ethics seriously and it is a consideration in all the decisions we make. In our training within the Triratna community we all naturally link our practice of the first precept to a commitment to aim to be vegetarian. However we suggest that the time has come when we explicitly extend our practice of ethics to have a global dimension. What we consume and buy has a direct effect on communities across the globe. What we do and how we live now has a direct effect on future generations.

These lines from The Buddha’s Karaniya Metta Sutta express this wish for wellbeing for all beings:

May all be happy and feel secure.
May all beings become happy in their heart of hearts!
And think of every living thing without exception:
the weak and the strong, from the smallest to the largest,
whether you can see them or not, living nearby or far away,
beings living now or yet to arise
may all beings become happy in their heart of hearts!

As Sahajatara has put it,

if climate change (and one may add, equally unfairtrade/unwise use of the earth’s resources -) equals suffering, have we as a community dedicated to acting with the intention to benefit others got a duty to try and prevent it?”

This proposal is about

  • committing towards becoming a low-carbon, sustainable community committed to making an appropriate contribution towards creating a low-carbon, sustainable planet
  • to acknowledge that our society’s use of resources is unsustainable and to make it a more conscious topic of conversation in our community what that means for each of us individually
  • to commit to heading in the right direction rather than achieving self sufficiency overnight.
  • this is about starting the conversation and making it part of our culture.

In Practice

This means committing towards the following ten steps:

Becoming aware

1. measure the carbon footprint of your Centre and conduct an Energy Audit of your Centre to identify areas for improvement (conduct a “baseline survey”)

2. have a sustainability kula/champion reporting to the Centre Council:
the sustainability steering group had its inaugural meeting on Feb 3 2014 and consists of – Sahajatara, Subhacitta, Muditakari, Santacitta, Vidyakaya.
In the future this could be expanded is to involve mitras. among other things they decided to to rename the group – it is now The Earth Metta Project

Taking Action
3. change the Centre’s electricity supplier to 100% green energy eg Good Energy, Ecotricity; change the gas supplier to an ethical green supplier when contract is up.

4. become a fairtrade centre:
There are 3 requirements for fairtrade status:
1) Your centre will use fairtrade tea and coffee for all meetings.
2) Also move forward on using other products such as sugar, biscuits and fruit.
3) Your centre promotes fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight, which in 2014 is 24 Feb – 9 March, and also at other times of the year.
(I suggest I find a ‘fairtrade champion’ for this, i.e. one or two people who undertake to promote it during this fortnight , writing in Sanghamala and perhaps having Geo bars for sale with info re FT, or similar)
If you can say yes to that, then all you do is fill in an application form which is available here:
More information about fairtrade is to be had at the Fairtrade Foundation website.

5. move towards adopting the recommendations of the Energy Audit – e.g. draught-proofing, insulating, double-glazing, installing low energy lighting, investigate solar panels, switching things off…..; move towards making ethical purchases (from stationary to furniture) as far as possible.

6. be vegetarian and promote veganism in the centre

7. encourage car-sharing/cycle/bus/train/walking to the centre and retreats

8. move towards a comprehensive recycling policy at the centre and explore how we can have less wastage/packaging;

9. display our sustainability certificate proudly! Communicate our commitment to move towards sustainability. Promote awareness by including discussions of the effects of our actions as part of our teaching; make this a regular feature in our centre newsletter;

10. take part in Buddhist Action Month each year and ask Sangha Members to take a green precept

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