Ahhh, spring is in the air. Which means so is the sweet smell of bitter herbs. Passover gives us a lot to chew on (literally—and not all of which is that tasty) as we retell the really, really ancient story of our exodus from Egypt, finishing on a note to plants seeds of hope for the future. So what better way to start this spring than by making your Passover green?
Our three-part Green Your Passover series gives you all the tools you need to bring eco-friendly style to your seder. (After all, the Passover talk about locusts and lice and vermin can get a little buggy.) Read Part 1 about preparing for your holiday, then check out Part 2, which is all about the seders.
PART 1: PREPARING FOR THE HOLIDAY
Use sustainable cleaning supplies Getting rid of the chametz (leavened foods) is a big job, but also an opportunity to get a jump start on spring cleaning. While you’re emptying your cabinets of cereal and crackers, and scrubbing down your fridge until all those little crumbs disappear, be sure to use eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies – like these, or make your own – that rely on plants instead of chemicals to do their job. (Just keep an eye out for toxic additives that may be hiding in even the greenest-looking supplies.) Your house will smell and look great, will be chametz-free, and you won’t enter the holiday with any eco-baggage.
Dust off your good dishes Passover is a great time to break out the fine China and celebrate in style. The seder is modeled after a lavish Greek symposium, so all the more reason to use your best fancy-pants dishes. If you are planning on going disposable, however, make sure to stock up now on recycled paper dish ware or biocompostable goods (plates, cups, cutlery made from plants instead of plastic). Check out the goods from World Centric and VerTerra (they make their plates from – no joke – fallen leaves!)
Stock up on organic matzah. One thing is certain: you are going to eat a lot of matzah over the eight days of Passover. There’s not much you can do to make matzah taste like a warm loaf of bread, but you can make sure the matzah you’re eating is certified organic. Try Aviv organic matzah (which many Whole Foods locations carry around the holiday) or Lakewood Matzoh (which makes an organic spelt matzah). Even Manischewitz offers an organic line, bringing tradition into the eco-friendly 21st century.
Sprout your own karpas. Karpas is the green vegetable on the seder plate that evokes springtime and rebirth (and gets dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears the Israelites shed while living in slavery). The word comes from the Greek word “karpos” which means fresh vegetable. Most families use parsley, celery or lettuce for their karpas, but why not sprout your own? Quinoa is kosher for Passover and makes delicious crunchy sprouts in just a couple of days. Learn how to sprout your own (be sure to leave yourself about 3 days for the process from start-to-finish, then enjoy homemade karpas at the seder.
Start the holiday with eco-friendly candles. Passover, like Shabbat and many other Jewish holidays, begins with the lighting and blessing of candles. Start the holiday off on a green foot by using eco-friendly candles. Conventional candles are made from paraffin, which is derived from petroleum (an un-renewable and polluting resource). Instead, light your holiday the sustainable way, by blessing candles made of a green material like beeswax.
For additional ideas and Passover inspiration, check out Hazon’s healthy and sustainable Passover resources, as well as Uri L’Tzedek’s, Bend the Arc’s, and The Shalom Center’s food, justice, and earth-focused haggadot.