Tikkun Olam. Healing the world.
The concept is not an unfamiliar one to the average Jewish human.
We make concerted efforts to plant trees in Israel and pick up trash on Clean Up Australia Day. Yet paradoxically, there seems to be an odd absence of environmental awareness when it comes to how we practise the very Jewish customs that preach tikkun olam in the first place.
With Pesach pending - a time when we reflect on our people’s past - it seems somehow fitting to consider a couple of our current approaches and how they may impact our people’s future.
A load of crock(ery)
Pesach Seders can be enormous affairs. It’s not unusual for 20-30 family and friends to gather together to share the paschal meal.
We spend hours and hours meticulously planning and prepping. But when it comes to the post-Seder clean-up, many of us prefer processes that expedite. Once the eating is complete, remaining table contents are simply scooped into a large garbage bag and unceremoniously trashed.
Disposable plates. Disposable cups. Disposable cutlery. Disposable napkins.
It’s remarkable how much landfill-bound waste 20-30 people can produce over the course of a single meal. And all in the name of convenience.
What you can do instead:
Choose re-usable! Skip the single-use serviettes and go for washable linen napkins instead. Pass on plastics and crack out some metal cutlery and ceramic crockery. If you’re worried about keeping kosher-le-Pesach, consider a once-off investment in a Pesach-specific set that can be brought out and used again each year.
If you can’t bear the thought of washing all that up, consider more enviro-friendly disposable options. Bamboo plates (58c each), classy paper plates (25c) sugarcane plates (7c) and wooden cutlery (4 or 5c each) break down naturally in landfill, in contrast to their plastic counterparts (7.6c) that take hundreds of years to do the same. In the context of our current recycling crisis, such choices are more important now than ever before!
Check out https://hazon.org/10-ways-to-make-your-passover-more-sustainable/ for more ideas.
(Not) pleased to meat you
Hundreds of years ago, meat was a rare and expensive treat, served only on special occasions. Flash forward to modern day. Somehow, there has been a propagation and proliferation of the misguided mindset that a meal is not a real meal unless it involves a giant hunk of flesh.
As such, and particularly when it comes to festive feasts, there’s pressure to make it meaty.
The problem is that frequent meat eating is unsustainable. Studies have suggested that the animal agriculture industry contributes more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than any other industry.
Add to this the enormous resources required to raise a bit of beef. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimate that 15,415 litres of water are required to raise 1kg of beef; a hefty load compared to the water needed to grow 1kg of potatoes (287 litres), tomatoes (214 litres), bananas (790 litres) or even rice (2,497 litres).
What you can do instead
Consider a flesh-free Seder.
Our ancient ancestors had to slaughter a lamb so they could plaster their door posts with its blood. But we don’t have to do the same.
Ditching meat for a meal not only takes some of the pressure off the planet, but frees up a lot of delightful milchig kosher-lePesach options; ice cream, cheese platters, cheesy zucchini slice etc.
With vegetarian and vegan diets rocketing ever upwards in popularity, there’s a huge range of tasty, meat-less meal ideas waiting to be discovered. Check out the attached recipe for one such delish kosher-lePesach veggo dish.
As we set up our Pesach Seders this year, let’s not pass over thoughts about how our choices may affect our planet.
Jewish Ecological Coalition (JECO)