Green Tevet Challenge: Recycle Your Electronics

January 2, 2015
Welcome to the Jewish month of Tevet and of course to the secular new year! I am anticipating a whole new year of personal, local, national and international environmental initiatives. Watching friends and family unwrap new phones, computers, TVs and new battery-operated kids’ toys this Hanukkah inspired me to choose but for reducing our waste output by recycling electronics this Tevet. Especially amid the good cheer and festivities of the holidays, it can seem hard to prioritize decreasing our carbon footprint. Monthly greening challenges are meant to make that process a little easier, closer to home and informed by our Jewish texts by highlighting a small thing that you – and I – can do this month to make a difference in our homes. In Deuteronomy 20:19-20, we read that we are obliged not to cut down trees that could be used for food as a tactic of war. In the Babylonian Talmud, scholars interpreted this command not to destroy, bal Tashchit, to apply not only to deforestation during war but much more broadly to include everything from the wasting of lamp oil to the unnecessary ruining of material goods like clothing. This is my challenge to you: in the month of Tevet and moving forward, I am going to recycle batteries and electronics and I hope you’ll join me. While this may seem like a small ask, recycling batteries and electronics actually have a fairly major impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency: “Electronic products are made from values resources and materials like plastics, metals, and glass, which require energy to mine and manufacture.” Sustainable Materials Management has a database of participating companies where you can drop off old electronics with a manufacturer or retailer that you can find here. You can also hold a drive at your synagogue leave a bin out for members to contribute their own electronics and help your community contribute electronics back to manufacturers. Think twice before throwing out your old iPhone or Xbox or TV, and consider our obligation not to waste. As Jews, we have an obligation to be stewards of God’s earth, and part of doing that is ensuring that we don’t throw away materials that can be reused just because we have new ones. If you’re interested in doing more, talk to your congregation about enrolling for GreenFaith’s Energy Efficiency Certification and register for the GreenFaith Energy Stewardship webinar series. You can take a look at my Green Cheshvan Challenge to turn down your thermostat and my Green Kislev Challenge to use energy efficient light bulbs for more greening ideas!

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