Sukkot and Eco-Friendly Eating

Sukkot, the harvest holiday that takes place on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, marks the end of the agricultural year. Jews give thanks for the bounty of the earth. We commemorate the holiday by decorating our sukkah with fruits, vegetables, and harvest items. We shake the lulav and the etrog to connect ourselves to the Earth as we eat and spend time outside. It is fitting during the traditionally agricultural holiday of Sukkot to think about our food choices. Here are a few ways we can be more eco-friendly in our eating and food purchasing habits: • Buy local: Plan to buy as many fruits and vegetables as possible from local sources. Most area farmer’s markets stay open weekly until late October. You also can find monthly indoor winter farmer’s markets and locally grown foods in conventional supermarkets. By buying locally and learning to eat what is in season, you will be supporting foods grown close to home. Locally grown food is healthier and has better nutritional content that food flown in from hundreds of miles away. You also will reduce your carbon footprint and support the local economy. • Buy organic: Traditionally grown vegetables likely contain pesticides that are harmful to your health and the environment. Organic vegetables both taste better and are better for you, while helping the planet. • Eat less meat: It takes 100 pounds of grain feed to produce a pound of meat. Less meat eating allows more soil to be used for plant-based foods while causing less water and soil contamination. It’s simply more ecological. • Look for eco-friendly restaurants when dining out: When you do eat out, plan to make sure that the restaurant you choose has earth-friendly practices, such as buying food from local growers and composting and recycling as much as possible. In the St. Louis area, look for restaurants designated as members of the Green Dining Alliance. Find out more at https://greendiningalliance.org/ Chag Sameach and Happy Eco-Friendly...

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Tips for a Native Garden

Although late summer or early fall may seem like an odd time to begin a garden, it is a great time to plan the garden and get plants and flowers into the ground before cold weather hits. If you are thinking about planting a garden, consider creating a native garden as the best way to restore native ecosystems and be kind to the environment. Why Use Native Plants? Before planting a native garden, it is important to have a grasp of what native plants are. By definition, native plants are plants that have existed in a particular region for so long that they have adapted to that ecosystem. This means they will grow naturally despite environmental factors that would kill non-native plants. Native plants do not require much watering or pesticides and require absolutely no fertilizers. Basically, they save a lot of time and money. Not only is it financially convenient to plant a native garden, it is also incredibly beneficial for the ecosystem. Native plants, besides being great for aesthetics, attract all sorts of birds, bees and butterflies, creating a whole habitat in your backyard. They also reduce air pollution. Of course, not every plant is a native plant. While some plants help the environment, others will damage it. The important thing is identifying which is which. The technical term for the ‘bad’ plants is invasive species. Generally speaking, invasive species are plants that have been transported from a completely different region and that promptly take over where they are planted. For example, the Japanese Hop coils around the stems of other plants for support, smothering them. Some invasive species in Missouri are Honeysuckle, Japanese Hop, Winter Creeper, Garlic Mustard or Tree of Heaven. Avoid planting these anywhere in your garden unless you want to do some serious weeding. Greening Your Community: Saving the Planet One Garden at a Time Get more tips about the best way to create and expand a native garden by attending “Greening Your Community: Saving the Planet One Garden at a Time” on Tuesday September 20 at 7 PM at the Ethical Society of St. Louis. Register and find out more at...

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Go Back to School and Be Green

With many area schools beginning their fall semester between mid-August and early September, many students and their parents will be heading to the stores for back-to-school supplies. Your back-to-school purchases make a huge difference. Here’s why: 14 billion pencils are produced every year, many made with wood from ancient forests. Americans use about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year, requiring 535 million trees (most from virgin tree fiber) and 12 billion gallons of oil to make. The average American consumes about 660 pounds of paper per year, compared to 550 pounds in Japan and only about 8.8 pounds in India. Focusing on reducing waste and preserving natural resources is a core tenet in Judaism. Use the steps below to help reduce waste and protect the environment as you shop for back-to-school items: • Re-use and Recycle: Where possible, re-use binders, pencils and markers from last year. There may not be a need to replace everything you purchased just 12 months ago. • Purchase eco-friendly supplies: Look for recycled content paper, notebooks, green printing supplies and pencils made from certified, sustainable-harvest wood. These items can be found in most office supply stores, including Staples and Office Depot. • Buy school clothes from vintage and resale shops: The St. Louis area offers a range of resale clothing shops, including vintage shops for the middle and high school age student. A few area resale shops (that also benefit worthy area charities) are the National Council of Jewish Women- St. Louis Section shop (located at 295 N. Lindbergh 63141; http://www.ncjwstl.org/the-resale-shop/) ReFresh, a resale shop to benefit the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition (1710 S. Brentwood 63144; http://refresh.foster-adopt.org/) and The Scholar Shop (with two locations-8211 Clayton Road 63117 and 7930 Big Bend Blvd. 63119; http://scholarshopstl.org/ ) • Create a waste-free lunch: Make a waste-free lunch and make a difference. It is estimated that the average school-age child using a disposable lunch bag and disposable plastic bags generates 67 pounds of waste each school year. Buy a reusable lunch bag or box, try a thermos for drinks rather than using disposable juice boxes, and bring re-usable bags or plastic containers for sandwiches and salads. Happy eco-friendly first day of school! Resources: Green Schools Initiative...

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Energy Conservation for your Home: Summer Edition

The weather may be hot and humid, but summer is still a good time to be mindful of the importance of protecting God’s creation, the Earth, by reducing energy waste in your home. Below are a few simple suggestions to get you started. These tips will both help reduce waste and reduce costs. Green Lighting Tips: • Do not place lamps near a thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat produced by the lamp which can change how often the air conditioner will run. • Use dimmers, motion detectors, and timers on indoor and outdoor lighting • Use CFL lightbulbs wherever possible, as they reduce energy use by up to 75 per cent Green Tips for Cooling Your Home: • Change or clean your air conditioner filter regularly to keep the system running most efficiently • Have your air conditioning system checked annually to make sure it is running smoothly • Install a programmable thermostat to regulate your cooling when you are not at home • Plant deciduous trees outside windows on the south side of your house to provide shade in summer Clothes washing and drying: • Hang clothes to dry on a clothes tree or clothesline, at least some of the time. This also will make your clothes last longer due to less wear and tear from drying them a dryer at high heat • Empty the lint trap after each use of the dryer when you do use it • Do full loads when using the washing machine for less water waste • Use cold or warm cycles instead of hot cycles for wash, because heating the water for laundry consumes 90 per cent of the energy of the laundry process Cooking Tips: • Use a microwave rather than an oven, range or toaster where possible • Cover pans when cooking to keep heat in • Use the appropriate size burner on the range-small for small pots, large for large pots • Choose small appliances over big ones for cooking (e.g. rice cooker, electric tea kettle or toaster oven over using a large pan for rice, a large kettle for tea or the full size oven for cooking) Keep cool and eco-friendly this...

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Greening Your Travel: Part Two

Summer is here and what better way to honor the environment and the Jewish principle of baal tashchit (do not waste) than by planning your summer travels to be as eco-friendly as possible. Here are a few tips to help as you plan your summer getaway: 1. Use eco-friendly transportation as much as possible: Some options include doing a biking vacation and/or taking public transportation (such as train or bus) to get to your ultimate destination. These alternatives are often cheaper and also reduce your carbon footprint as opposed to travelling by car. 2. Bring your reusable bottle: Don’t be tempted to purchase bottled water while travelling. Bring an empty, reusable bottle and fill up with locally sourced water wherever you go. It takes a large amount of energy to manufacture plastic disposable bottled water containers and often the water is no fresher than what you would get from the tap. 3. Buy local: Wherever you travel, find a local farmers’ market so you can buy your fruits, vegetables and other foods locally. Locally grown seasonal food tastes better, has more nutrients and does not involve wasting fuel needed to transport produce from other countries. 4. Stay at a working farm: Stay at a working farm that also functions as an inn. You will better connect with the area’s agricultural heritage and likely the cost will be cheaper than a traditional hotel. You also will support local farmers and the fresh produce they grow. 5. Recycle: Plan to recycle as much as possible while on vacation. If staying at a hotel, ask about its recycling practices and where to put your used paper, plastic and similar recyclables so they don’t go into a landfill. Happy...

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Reducing Food Waste in Seven Easy Steps

Statistics show that in the U.S. alone 60 million metric tons of food is wasted each year, of which about 40 million metric tons of it end up in municipal landfills. This represents between 30 to 40 percent of the overall food supply and the single largest component in landfills. It is an important value in Judaism that we not waste resources, including food (the principle of baal tashchit). Below are a few simple steps you can take to personally reduce food waste as you shop. • Inventory your food items before grocery shopping—Take stock of what you already have in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Make a list of only what you really need before heading to the store. • Create food menus for the week—Use this list of recipes to guide you as to how much to buy of each ingredient. • Stick to your list—Resist the urge to buy items not on your list, especially perishable food items. Even if an item is on special, if it is perishable and you don’t really need it you are likely to end up tossing it rather than eating it. • Store foods separately—Store apples, bananas and tomatoes by themselves. Store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. • Freeze often—Freeze items that are still safe to eat but that you know you won’t have time to consume in the next few days. • Only wash before eating—Hold off washing fruits and vegetables until you are ready to use them to prevent mold. • Compost-If you do end up with fruits and vegetables that you can no longer safely eat, compost them rather than throwing them into the trash can. Resources: Earth...

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