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Honoring the Environment for Tu B’Shevat

January in the secular calendar brings the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat. Tu B’Shevat celebrates the New Year of the Trees and was thought to have originated as an agricultural festival marking the emergence of spring. Today, Jews celebrate Tu B’Shevat by expressing thankfulness for trees, harvests and the natural world. What better time to think about individual steps you can take even in the dead of winter to help the environment.

Below are a few simple things you can do to help protect forests, along with ways to be more mindful of your paper use in honor of the New Year of the Trees:

  • Buy a forest-friendly alternative to an everyday product: Buy a reusable travel mug so you don’t have to use a disposable paper cup from your local coffee shop. If you plan to purchase greeting cards or stationery, look for products made with recycled paper with at least50 percent post consumer waste
  • Look for the FSC label: If you are buying paper in bulk for home or the office, look for paper that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Paper products with the FSC label have been certified to come from forests that are being managed to the highest environmental standards.
  • Go to a waste free lunch: If you typically pack a brown bag lunch for yourself or your kids, change from a brown bag to a reusable one. Reduce plastic waste as well by using washable containers or reusable sandwich bags instead of disposable sandwich bags.
  • Support advocacy efforts to preserve forests: Organizations such as the Pew Environmental Trust have initiatives that aim to preserve our forests and prevent deforestation. Find out more at www.ourforests.org.

Chag Sameach!

Originally posted in jewishinstlouis.org at http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/blog.aspx?id=345

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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