Eco-Friendly Baby Products

If you are expecting a baby or have little ones in your home, you may be wondering how to surround your infant or toddler with products that are environmentally safe. Below are a few suggestions that will help reduce waste (baal tashchit) and keep your baby healthy too. • Make your own organic baby food—The safest food for your baby is the same fresh, organic food you eat. Rather than worry about additives in store bought baby food and the waste caused by purchasing all of those little jars, buy a baby food grinder. After pureeing items, you can also make extra for later use by putting the food in ice cube trays and then transferring the cubes to a plastic bag or container to freeze. • Buy all natural bath and skin care products—Look for items like baby shampoo and lotion that have no added chemicals. A few national brands such as Burt’s Bees and Seventh Generation make these products. Natural personal care items for baby are safer and more gentle for the skin. These products also are not petroleum based so they do not contain fossil fuels. Excessive use of fossil fuels is harmful to the planet. • Use a more eco-friendly diaper– There is some debate about whether or not cloth diapers are really better for the environment than disposables. This is because cloth diapers need to be washed in very hot water in a washing machine. Also, if you are using a diaper service you have to factor in the transportation costs for the service truck. One alternative if you are not sure which way to go is to look for a more eco-friendly disposable diapers. You can find natural brands that use recycled materials and that don’t use chlorine bleach as part of processing in some supermarkets and natural food stores. Another alternative is to use a combination of cloth and disposable, such as cloth at home and disposables when out. • Look for organic cotton clothes– Cotton is a natural fiber and so it is a good fabric for baby clothes. But conventional cotton is grown with large amounts of water and pesticides. So look for organic cotton clothing for your little one. Making these earth-friendly choices for your baby will help both your child and the...

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JEI Sponsors Two Upcoming Events for Project Noah Week

The Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), this year is once again promoting several events taking place in and around the week when Parsha Noah is read. Both are in conjunction with Project Noah: A Week for the Environment. Project Noah takes place October 16-23 and includes Shabbat Noach on October 17. JEI focuses on this particular week because Parsha Noah teaches the story of the flood, an environmental disaster that changed the course of all living things on Earth. In our present world, climate change is the force that threatens to irreparably alter the Earth, undermining the core Jewish value of providing for future generations and tilling and tending the Earth. The two upcoming events are: JEI Open Meeting—Thursday October 8 (the week prior to Project Noah)—The community is invited to learn more about the work of JEI and to hear guest speaker Melissa Vatterott of Missouri Coalition for the Environment speak on issues related to local food and farming. Participants will learn what they can do to promote the “eating local and organic” movement in St. Louis. Project Noah Community Event—Sunday October 18, 1 PM; Join JEI at a Jewish community gardening event at the Jewish Community Center’s Garden of Eden, located on the grounds of the Staenberg Arts & Education Building at 2 Millstone Campus Drive 63146. Rabbi Randy Fleisher of Central Reform Congregation and a past Chair of JEI will lead a short opening service. No prior experience with gardening is needed. Participants are asked to wear closed toed shoes, to dress appropriately for outdoor work and to wear a hat. For more information about Project Noah or to RSVP to the October 8 and October 18 events, contact Gail Wechsler at gwechsler@jcrcstl.org or...

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Simple Steps to Reduce Water Use

Water use in and around your home takes its toll on the environment, because it needs to be cleaned, delivered, and then treated, using energy and resources every step of the way. Conserving water helps protect natural ecosystems and aquifers, saving both energy and money. It also is a great way to honor the Jewish principle of ba’al tash’chit (do not waste). Follow these tips to trim down your water footprint. 1. Fix water leaks: Roughly 7 gallons of water is lost each day per person to leaks. Walk around your house and look for leaks (which can also prevent mold issues in the home). Common places where leaks may be found are in outdoor spigots and faucets, toilets and showers. When leaks arise, fix them immediately instead of letting them linger; even slow leaks add up over time. Your water bill will go down as you help the environment. 2. Install a rain barrel in your backyard: A rain barrel is a container that captures and stores rainwater draining from your roof. Barrels usually range from 50 to 80 gallons and have a spigot for filling watering cans and a connection for a soaker hose. Combining the use of rain barrels with appropriate plant selection and mulching promotes water conservation. Rain barrels benefit your home, garden and community. 3. Get creative in the kitchen: There are some simple steps you can take in the kitchen to reduce water use. Reuse the same cup for drinking and for coffee or tea every day, rather than using and washing multiple cups daily. If you use a steamer for cooking vegetables, keep the leftover, vitamin-rich water for soup stock. And clean vegetables and dishes not going in a dishwasher in a reusable pan rather than rinsing cold water over them. Only run the dishwasher when it is full. 4. Select an Energy Star washing machine when you need a replacement: Older washing machines can use between 40 and 60 gallons of water. Since the average household does 300 loads per year, this number really adds up. Chose an Energy Star washer, as they use 35 % less water and 20% less energy than comparable models. A full-size energy star washer still uses 15 gallons of water, so try to run only full loads and use cold water to save energy. Resources:...

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Going Green when you Remodel Your Home

Many home remodeling efforts take place in the summer and fall. Before you begin a home remodeling project, consider ways you can remodel to make your home more “green.” This can include everything from using eco-friendly products to improving energy efficiency. Being eco-friendly when you upgrade your house is one way to honor the Jewish principle of baal tashchit (not wasting). In addition to being a good steward to the environment, homeowners who go green in their remodeling efforts will often see more green in their wallets. Even the smallest green changes can have a positive economic effect. Here are a few tips to help you get started as you plan your home improvements. • A sealed home is a green home: Sealing air leaks, adding insulation and upgrading to energy efficient products like appliances, heating and cooling systems, tankless water heaters, low-emissivity glass for windows and doors will improve the efficiency of a home, making it more comfortable and reducing its carbon footprint through the reduction of energy used. Investigate heating and cooling companies and window installation companies that include green options. Better sealing in your home will keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and will reduce your heating and cooling bills while you help the planet. • Hire green-savvy professionals. If your remodel is a serious undertaking, like redoing an entire kitchen or adding a family room, you most likely will hire a host of professionals, such as an architect to design the project, an engineer to review your plans, and a general contractor to manage the construction. Hiring the right professionals is your first opportunity to make environmentally friendly choices. Begin by asking friends and neighbors with remodels you like for the names of professionals with experience doing green remodeling. When you meet with professionals, ask to see examples of their work and to explain what makes it environmentally friendly. Experts will know more about the toxicity and sustainability of certain products, as well as how to take advantage of natural light and heat, reduce consumption, and lower energy costs. • Consider what to do with demolished materials. While you’re planning how to demolish what you have, think about what you’re going to do with it. The less waste, the better. Consider whether you can reuse or repurpose old materials — for example, by turning the brick from a non-functioning fireplace into a backyard path. Also, figure out how to resell or donate any usable materials — local salvage yards may be happy to receive them. Happy “Green” Remodeling! Resources: Nolo: Green Remodeling website www.nolo.com Angie’s List website...

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Eco-Friendly Summer-2015 Edition

June marks the official beginning of summer. What a great time of year to get outdoors and practice the principles of reducing waste and honoring G-d’s creation, the Earth. Here are a few suggestions of summer activities to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment. • Use natural methods to protect against the sun: Use of sunscreens is commonplace from May through August. Many sunscreens, however, contain chemicals and may be harmful to the skin and the environment. Look for a sunscreen made with organic ingredients and no chemicals. Read the label before you buy anything. Brands such as Alba Botanica and Jason Natural Cosmetics carry natural sunscreen products. Adorable Baby and Earth’s Best are a few safe brands for infants and young children. Also don’t forget to wear a wide brimmed hat during the middle of the day when the sun is strongest, a natural sun protection technique. • Travel as much as possible by bike and by foot: The benefits to your health of biking and walking are many. Adding additional exercise to your day by biking or walking to work, to summer activities, to run errands or just for pleasure can improve your physical health and can help combat problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Regular exercise via biking or walking also is a great stress reliever, improving your mental health and well-being. It also reduces your carbon footprint because it means you will be spending less time driving in a car. • Shop at local farmers markets: Typically, fruits and vegetables grown locally and sold at farmers’ markets are picked just as they ripen so they have a better taste, texture and aroma at the time of purchase. In addition, since the produce is picked at the peak of the season, it will have a higher nutritional content and contain more phytochemicals (plant-derived chemicals believed to have beneficial health effects) than non-local produce purchased at a supermarket. The markets also help the environment because travel time and, therefore, the use of fossil fuels, is reduced for locally grown items. In addition, many of the vendors have organic produce, which also helps the environment because many farm chemicals are made from fossil fuels. • Think reusable/recyclable with items you take with you: Chances are, you are going to eat or drink as part of your visit to cheer on your favorite team or watch outdoor Shakespeare. So make it a point to bring items you can re-use whenever possible. Bring your own stainless steel water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Pack munchies in re-usable glass containers rather than in throwaway plastic bags. If you must purchase food at your venue (probably unavoidable at a sporting event), look for recycling bins on your way out rather than throwing things in the regular trash bins. Many sporting locations now regularly recycle. St. Louis’s Busch Stadium currently diverts close to 30 percent of all items purchased at a game and recruits volunteers for a Green Team at each event to help collect recyclable plastic and aluminum. Enjoy celebrating summer in an eco-friendly...

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Greening Your Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot is coming soon. Shavuot celebrates the occasion of G-d giving the Torah to all of the Jewish people. It also is known as the Festival of First Fruits. In Biblical times, Shavuot was the first day in which individuals could bring first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. Listed below are a few things you can do to celebrate the environment and the natural world on this spring holiday. 1. Plant seasonal, native plants and flowers for the holiday: One Shavuot tradition involves decorating our homes and synagogues with festive flowers and blooming plants. Growing or purchasing your own native plants for the holiday helps the local environment. Native plants need less water and attract few if any weeds or pests, as opposed to non-native invasive species. 2. Study Jewish text on the environment: Shavuot also typically involves studying Torah deep into the night. What better way to honor the environmental side of the holiday than by studying those parts of the Torah that focus on protecting the Earth, planting trees and taking care of G-d’s creation for future generations. 3. Think organic with the festive dinner: Traditionally, the menu for Shavuot includes dairy products. Consider purchasing organic milk, cheese and other dairy items for the meal. Also look for locally made products where possible. 4. Dig deeper to increase the personal meaning of this holiday: Because Shavuot includes eating dairy as opposed to meat, it already focuses on eating in a more eco-friendly way (preparing meat for consumption involves much more energy and water use than preparing dairy products). Go the next step and think about where all the food you eat typically comes from and the effects its growth and production have on the environment. Consider going meatless at least part of every week even after the holiday ends. Chag...

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