~Mother’s Day will be different this year for many of us because of the impact of the coronavirus, being in quarantine and social distancing; however, we can still be mindful of how our actions can help prevent climate change even if we are having virtual Mother’s Day dinners and celebrations.
Reduce: Reduce your energy needs. Winter is finally over and it’s warmer inside and out. Open your windows and let the fresh air in. If it is really hot, set your thermostat no higher than 78°F (26°C) when you are home and higher when you are away (information from the U.S. Department of Energy). A programmable thermostat can make this easier to do.
Reuse: If restaurants are allowed to open and you go out to eat, bring your own containers to take home the leftovers. Styrofoam can take hundreds of years to decompose and is one of the most frequent pollutants found in our oceans. Even more scary is that fish and birds often mistake styrofoam for food and eating too much can be a death sentence. Is Mom a coffee drinker? A great present would be reusable coffee pods for her coffee maker. According to a 2019 article in USA Today, the plastic coffee pods usually cannot be recycled. John Hocevar, the campaign director of Greenpeace USA is quoted in the article:
“Coffee pods are one of the best examples of unnecessary single-use plastics that are polluting our planet…Many end up getting incinerated, dumping poison into our air, water and our soil.”
Recycle: Many communities have single-stream recycling, which does make it easier as the paper, glass and plastic all go into the same containers. However, when glass and plastic are recycled, they should not have food residue and I admit sometimes I fall short in this respect –we all need to try harder to put out cleaner items.
Cooking for Mom? Try a vegetarian meal. A recent position paper on vegetarian diets from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states: “Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.”
Vegetarian meals can be economical, easy to make and delicious. Still nervous about what to cook and how—try these healthy and tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes. Going forward, it may be easier to think about “Meatless Mondays” as a minimum.
The Jewish Energy Guide. You can download the free guide and find articles about the sources and cost of energy; its impacts on climate change; and how we can change the inheritance we are leaving to the future inhabitants of our world.
Susan Levine is the volunteer and social media coordinator for Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, parent organization of Jewcology.