Jewish Energy Guide: Green Your Conference

Summary: Between travel, accommodations, and food, it is often challenging to green a conference. David Krantz, president and chairperson of the Green Zionist Alliance, provides tips on how to green your conference by making changes, both big and small, when planning the event.

Ask people to bring their own bottles with them for the conference. Perhaps it’s time to revive the old Yemenite Jewish custom of traveling with your own water cup.

If you absolutely need to use something only once, use something that’s compostable — something that will biodegrade, like paper or compostable plasticware made from plants such as corn or sugar cane. However, if you use the latter, it’s especially important to collect compostable waste at the conference using an industrial composter. While paper returns easily back to the earth, most compostable plastics only biodegrade when exposed to the high temperatures reached inside industrial composting piles. Smaller composting piles, like those found in your local community garden, tend not to get warm enough to biodegrade most compostable plastics.

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Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin is the founder of the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network, which works to green synagogues and educate the wider Jewish community on environmental issues. Cardin was editor and chair of the editorial committee of Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, and formerly served as director of Jewish life at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. She is the author of several books, including The Tapestry of Jewish Time: A Spiritual Guide to Holiday and Life-Cycle Events, and Rediscovering the Jewish Holidays: Tradition in a Modern Voice. She received her ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL’s Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology’s Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.

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