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Archive for : eco-friendly

DIY Sukkah: Make it Green and Awesome

With all due respect to Tu Bishvat (aka the Jewish Arbor Day), Sukkot is the Jewish calendar’s eco-friendly poster child.

For starters, the week long holiday celebrates the harvest. Throughout the week Jews celebrate by dining, star-gazing, and sometimes even sleeping in a handmade, outdoor hut made from natural materials called a sukkah. Furthermore, they carry around an etrog (a fragrant, lemon-like citrus fruit) and a lulav (a bundle of date palm fronds and other branches), which they wave around at services and inside their sukkah.

With so many natural green connections, it is a no-brainer to celebrate Sukkot with sustainability and the environment in mind. Here are some ideas to keep your holiday green and awesome:

Decorate Local Farmer’s markets are brimming with squash, gourds, dried corn, dried flowers and other autumnal goodies this time of year. So forget the plastic fruit and stock up on beautifully, locally-grown decorations.

Recycled Chic Back in the 1990s, trendy decorators strung unwanted CDs from their sukkahs like tiny, flat disco balls. Bring back that retro idea and add to it: string together corks from old wine bottles, or make a chain out of toilet paper tubes painted in different colors.

Educate, Beautifully Paint your favorite environmental quotes on recycled paper and hang them around the sukkah. Or, make a 350.org banner to spark conversation about climate change in the sukkah.

Sustainable Supper Once you are all decorated, invite your friends over for a vegetarian potluck meal. Invite people to bring a plate to reduce waste, or if you must go disposable, use compostable dishes.

Donate, Donate. Invite friends to bring canned goods and other non-perishables to dinner and set up a collection box inside your sukkah. Bring donated food to a soup pantry after the holiday.

Talk Green. Start an environmental discussion at your Sukkot table. Bring printouts of texts and resources to get you started.

Find more sustainable Sukkot tips on Hazon’s website. How are you adding DIY or eco-friendly touches to your Sukkot celebration?

Get Your Spring Clean On (And Do Good Along the Way)

It’s official: spring is in the air. That means: it’s time to plan some picnics, finalize summer plans and – SPRING CLEAN! Whether you live love to clean, or can’t stand the thought of picking up a mop or dustpan, there is something about the arrival of spring that brings out everyone’s inner clean freak.

But spring cleaning doesn’t only refer to tidying up your physical space. It also means finding ways to de-clutter your life emotionally, and renew your commitment to helping others. Get a jump start on spring cleaning this year by finding ways to shed the clutter while doing some good:

  • Closet purge. You know you’ve been meaning to organize your closet. Go through your clothes, then organize a clothing swap with friends. Donate any clothes that don’t get swapped to charity.
  • Recycle your phone. Got an unloved cell phone (or several) lying around? Recycle it! Check out the EPA’s list of stores and facilities that accept old cell phones here.
  • Park (or beach) cleanup. Organize a park, beach or other public space cleanup in your neighborhood. Many cities, like Seattle and New York, also provide opportunities for people to plug into official clean up events.
  • Sort and file. Are you an organizing whiz? Volunteer to organize the files of your favorite non-profit – chances are, they would greatly appreciate the help.
  • Join a CSA. Now is the time to sign up for a season’s worth of fresh vegetables and fruit from a local farm. (Find out more about CSAs here.) After you sign up, scrub out your fridge’s vegetable drawers in preparation for all that tasty produce.

How are you adding service to your spring cleaning? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Green Your Passover Part 2: The Seders

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 2 of the series – all about your seders – below, and check out Part 1 about getting ready for the holiday.

How are YOU greening your Seder? Send us your photos through Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a gift from Repair!

PART 2: THE SEDERS

 

Green your charoset. Charoset is the sticky-sweet mix of apples, walnuts and cinnamon that represents the mortar the Israelites used to lay bricks while they were enslaved in ancient Egypt. This year, spice your charoset with fair-trade cinnamon, and use organic or locally-grown apples for an environmentally-friendly crunch.

Add something “green” to your seder plate. In the past several decades, many families have begun to add extra symbolic foods (like oranges and olives) to their seder plates to represent contemporary issues from gender equality to promoting peace. Pick a symbol that represents sustainability to you – like a leaf or a thimble full of clean water – and set it near or on your seder plate to spark conversation.

Use an organic free-range egg. The roasted hard boiled egg on the seder plate symbolizes both rebirth and the festival sacrifice that was historically offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. This year, use a free-range egg (ideally from the farmers’ market, where you can ask the farmer how he raises his chickens), and look for organic, hormone and anti-biotic free eggs as well.

Use potted flowers as your centerpiece. Skip the cut flowers – which are beautiful, but often grown unsustainably and shipped in from far away – and choose potted, seasonal flowers to make your seder table beautiful. They are kinder to the environment, and will last a long time after the seder ends!

Go vegetarian or source ethical meat. Go meat-free this Passover and swap out the chicken soup and brisket for homemade borscht and matzoh lasagna. Or, if you plan to serve meat, make sure it is ethically-sourced. There are several companies that produce ethical, kosher chicken and meat – serve them up, and let your guests rave!

Share food justice texts. The best seders are the interactive ones. This year, bring food justice and environmental-related texts to your seder and start a discussion around the table. Check out On1Foot’s text database or Hazon’s Food for Thought sourcebook to get you started. Plus, check out Repair the World’s roundup of awesome service and food justice-related haggadot and seder supplements.

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.

Green Your Passover Part 3: Cleaning Up

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.)

How are YOU greening your Seder? Send us your photos through Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a gift from Repair!

Part 3: CLEANING UP

 

Green your travel. Lots of people end up traveling to family or friends for Passover. If you can, take public transportation like a bus or a train to lower your carbon footprint. But if you have to fly to you destination, you can offset your carbon emissions afterwards by making a donation to Carbonfund.org, or JNF’s Go Neutral campaign.

Repurpose your leftovers. Made too much food for the seders? Turn the borning leftovers into something new and exciting! Use leftover charoseth as a sweet topping for yogurt. Chop excess parsley from the seders and combine it with minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil for a bright and herby salad dressing or topping for fish, or turn a tin of unloved macaroons into a delicious, kosher for Passover pie shell for cheesecake.

Compost your leftovers. Make sure food doesn’t go to waste by composting any inedible food scraps or leftovers. Composting diverts food scraps from the waste stream, and turns them into rich, usable soil. And spring is the perfect time to start a compost pile or bin – in the backyard, garage, or even in your apartment kitchen with vermicomposting.

Donate your leftovers. It’s fair to say that nobody wants to eat your extra boxes of matzoh. But if you stocked up on non-perishable kosher for Passover products that you aren’t planning to use after the holiday (like jams or soup mixes), donate them to a local soup kitchen.

Tote your Passover food in eco-style. Do you spend the week of Passover carrying around kosher for Passover-friendly food to nibble on? If so, use reusable glass jars, containers and other eco-friendly food storage and lunch boxes.

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.

Green Your Passover Part 1: Preparing for the Holiday

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.

How are YOU greening your Seder? Send us your photos through Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a gift from Repair!

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.