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Beth El Goes Greener

Commitment to environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, an important principle at Beth El. In 2009, Beth El purchased solar panels to increase energy efficiency.  This yearBeth El entered an even greener era, successfully implementing its “Zero-Waste Shabbat Kiddush,” Phase 1 of a 3-phase waste reduction program that will ultimately encompass all aspects of synagogue life.  Composting, elimination of plastic, and people power are the three essential ingredients of our newly envisioned kiddush.  Composting, the original and incredibly sustainable method of waste disposal, turns our new place settings as well as all our food scraps and other organic matter into soil-enhancing fertilizer, rather than into air-polluting smoke.  Plastic plates, utensils, cups, and even schnapps cups have been replaced with those made from corn-based products.

 

Our bottom-up strategy engages every congregant in the process of separating their own Kiddush waste into compostables recyclables, paper and unusable trash and depositing them into three color-coded bins when they leave the Kiddush room. An army of green aproned volunteers stand at the ready to help with any questions.

As stated by Green Team co-chair Alan Greenberg,

“So far, the Zero-Waste Kiddush has been an outstanding success”. Approximately 80% of the lunch leftovers go to composting, 1% to recycling and the remaining 19% to trash.  The congregation and its leadership are 100% behind this initiative to contribute to our environmental goals.

The Green initiative is deeply based in Torah.  As explained by our Rabbi, David Schuck, the Torah commands us to preserve our world and its natural resources for future generations. This commandment is reinforced by the words of Kohellet Rabbah 7:13, 

Consider G-d’s work.  Who can set right that which he has degraded?  When the Holy One created the first human, he took him around to all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: See how beautiful and wonderful My works are.  Everything I have created, I have created for you.  Be mindful that you do not ruin and devastate My world, for if you ruin it there is no one to repair it after you.

Our goal is to reach as far as we can with zero waste, preventing as much as possible from heading to incineration or landfill.  We are off to a very good start, and look forward to implementing phases 2 and 3, which will include a gradual move to zero waste bins throughout the remaining areas of our shul and the incorporation of all events into the zero-waste paradigm.

If you would like to volunteer, learn more about our Green initiative, or provide constructive feedback, please contact co-chairs, Alan Greenberg (asgreenberg2@gmail.com) or Jayne Peister (peisterjs@gmail.com).

Sun, July 12 2020 20 Tammuz 5780