Thursday, September 15, 2011

Earth Etude for 18 Elul

Plastics & fruit

I’ve decided to decrease my exposure to plastics, and increase my consumption of fruit. But what’s the link between them? During Elul, we can turn, as always, to the Torah for guidance on the thoughtful use of each of these earthly components. Plastics are petroleum-based, carbon-intensive, and contain harmful chemicals. Fruits are loaded with healthful vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. And we should waste neither. “Fill the world and capture it” is G-d’s instruction in Genesis 1:28. Genesis 2:15 then cautions that we are to “work it and guard it.” Therefore, the world is ours to use, but we must use it wisely.

Deuteronomy 20:19-20 is often cited by those of us with environmental leanings. If a city is invaded, the army cannot cut down useful fruit trees as battering rams. But if the tree is damaging other trees, it can be felled. Thought should go into the use of everything on our planet, and into destruction and disposal as well. This is the essence of Bal Tashchit, a mitzvah our sages referred to regarding these Torah principles on avoiding wastefulness.

I hope that during Elul and beyond, more people will, along with me,we will all mindfully preserve. We can use cloth bags. Fill jars with filtered water. Re-use cosmetic glass bottles for toiletries. Bring toothbrushes, light bulbs, plastic bags and wine corks to Whole Foods’ specialized recycling containers. Carry your paper and plastics around with you, until you we arrive at your known recycling places. Buy in bulk. Reduce – reuse. Our sages would have it no less.

Susie Davidson, a local journalist, is the Coordinator of the Boston chapter of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).

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