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Many people may not think about common purchases made at the grocery or home improvement store and their impact on the environment. However, as Jews commanded to till and tend the Earth and not to waste resources, we need to be mindful of the environmental and health effects of many products we routinely buy.

Here’s a list of some commonly purchased items for the home, with an eye toward the more environmentally-conscious option when shopping in a store or online:

Paper goods—Items such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissues are a staple purchase for many. Consider, however, that traditional brands may contain dyes and they use products that have not been recycled. To lessen the impact on the environment and save some trees, switch to recycled paper goods. Look for brands such as Seventh Generation, Trader Joe’s and First Circle. Better yet, use washable napkins and towels that can be reused over again rather than thrown in the trash.

Candles—Candles are a staple in many Jewish rituals. However, most traditional candles sold for use on Shabbat, Hanukkah and for Havdalah are made of paraffin. Paraffin candles are made from fossil fuels and also produce smoke when burning. A better option is to make or purchase beeswax or soy candles. Both soy and beeswax candles are natural (there is no processing involved so there are no chemical by-products) and clean burning. A simple Internet search using the terms “soy Shabbat candles” or “beeswax Shabbat candles” will lead you to companies that sell this more eco-friendly option.

Dryer sheets—Regular disposable dryer sheets to reduce static cling are popular. However, they are wasteful because they are used only once and then thrown away. They typically also contain unnecessary and unhealthy dyes, chemicals and perfumes. Switch to reusable static eliminator dryer sheets. These, too, can be found via the Internet. One sheet can last for a year or more.

Through a few simple steps, you can change your buying habits. These simple changes will benefit the environment and make your home a healthier place as well.



This post originally appeared in jewsishinstlouis at http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/blog.aspx?id=345

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Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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