Green Tishrei Challenge: BYO Grocery Bags

September 29, 2014
Happy New Year and welcome to the Jewish month of Tishrei! The Jewish new year is a time for rededication and reflection, looking back on what we’ve done right in the past year and what we would like to do better in the year ahead. As I return to the RAC from my Rosh Hashanah break, ready and rejuvenated for a new year and looking towards Yom Kippur, I am considering some of the small, simple ways to make my own life a little more eco-friendly. After all, I live in an apartment building (my first ever rental) and I’m not quite ready to petition them to install solar panels. However, there are still things that I think I – and you – can do in the new year to contribute to the project of tikkun olam, repairing the world. This blog post is the first in a monthly series of small changes that I am going to make in my life to be a little greener in the year 5775, which I challenge you try with me throughout the year. In the month of Tishrei, I will be bringing my own bags to the grocery store. While this may seem like a small challenge, bringing your own cloth, reusable bags to the store instead of taking a plastic one offered to you at the checkout counter is an effective way to cut down on waste. We often throw those free plastic or paper bags out from the grocery store the minute we get home. By bringing your own bags, you can minimize the damage done to the earth with the production of more unnecessary goods and we are able to uphold our Jewish obligation not to destroy, bal tashlich. While this may seem inconsequential, reusing bags can actually make a huge difference when it’s done consistently. The District of Colombia passed a “Bag Law” which puts a small tax on using plastic or paper bags to encourage residents to bring their own bags to stores in 2010. Since then, 79% of businesses in the area found themselves purchasing fewer bags and, while overall litter did not significantly decrease, there was a dramatic decrease in plastic and paper bag litter. This law and miniature incentive asked me to be just slightly more mindful about the waste I was producing and quickly, since moving the DC, bringing a tote bag with me to the grocery store became habit. If you are interested in getting more involved once you’ve gotten into the habit of packing a tote to take your groceries home in, take a moment to learn about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan Proposal and let them know that you support it or help your congregation enroll in GreenFaith certification. L’shanah tovah!

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