Monday, July 13, 2015

100 Actions for the Earth

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

This is the last in this journey of lists. It began with the idea of being commanded - metzuveh/ah - by a Sacred Source, considered how we absorb information about the world within and around us, stopped to visit the idea of expressing blessing -- request, acknowledgement, awareness, gratitude, touched the tip of the iceberg of the vast diversity in the more-than-human world, considered the many ways we speak of and name G!d, and then moved to climate disruption and identified many of the myriad emotional responses we might have. 

Each of these lists is one expression of our relationship with ourselves and all that surrounds us. There is much in them, sometimes not enough and often too much. They are here for you to ponder, to consider, to engage with and to disengage. 

None of us can change the world alone, but all of us are responsible for changing it. So, the journey ends with actions - different kinds of actions than the mitzvot at the beginning, yet, in some way similar. The word mitzvah has the same root as metzuveh/ah, commanded. This last list identifies large and small actions we can take in the face of the overwhelming nature of climate disruption. Perhaps you feel in some way commanded to do one of these, or other actions you've already identified or begun. The "mitzvot" in this list are not traditional, they are not written in an ancient sacred text, they are not specifically Jewish. But, like the traditional mitzvot, they are actions to which we should give serious consideration, to understand in our hearts just what we each can do to change our world for the better. For all of us, changing our actions is a journey of one step at a time. Here are some possible steps.

This list is compiled and adapted from the Context Institutethe 7 Seeds Projectand Global Warming Facts plus a few suggestions of my own. It moves from the personal to the communal and political and then back to the personal. 

I wish you well on your journey. 

At Home
1)   Find Your Baseline Track your energy usage to learn how you can best reduce your consumption. Here’s one option.
2)   Home Energy Audit Get a free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You may save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
3)   Water Conserve water and use cold water instead of hot whenever possible. Install a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and wash clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds per year). Run dishwashers and washing machines using cold or warm water and only when full. Modern detergents clothes and dishes clean at low temperatures. Take quick showers instead of baths, which take up to four times more energy. Install an air-assisted or composting toilet.  
4)   Clean Washing Use moderate amounts of biodegradable detergent.
5)   Switch to Renewables Explore a solar water heater and solar panels for your home. You may get government refunds and earn money by selling your excess energy. Change to renewable energy through your electric company.
6)   Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Learn how to recycle all household goods, from clothing to motor oil to appliances to save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. To save the energy, re-use anything you can, from jars, to bags, to parts of broken items. Limit or eliminate use of "disposable" items. Buy products to last and maintain and repair them. Rent or borrow items you don’t use often.
7)   Buy intelligently Use recycled or refurbished products whenever possible. Manufacturing recycled paper takes less 70 to 90% less energy than new paper. Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and towels. Avoid aerosols, halon fire extinguishers, and other products containing CFCs, as well as rainforest products. Choose products that come with little packaging, including bulk containers, and buy refills when possible. Avoid plastic foam, often made from CFCs, which never biodegrades.
8)   Lighting Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with the most efficient LED bulbs (be careful, not all are efficient!) to save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Turn off lights that don’t need to be on.
9)   Appliances Look for the Energy Star label to choose the most energy efficient new appliances. Keep filters clean, defrost old fridges and freezers defrosted, Insulate water heaters to save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and save another 550 lbs by setting the thermostat no higher than 50°C. Save 700 lbs CO2 by using a clothesline for half the year. Set refrigerators to 38°F, freezers to 5°F.
10)  Electricity Usage Use the “on/off” function to turn off appliances. A TV set that’s on for 3 hours a day and in standby mode for 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy in standby.
11)   Heating and Cooling Install a programmable thermostat to automatically raise and lower the heat or air conditioning and save $100 a year. Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer to save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Clean or replace filters. Close off unused rooms.  
12)   Windows Replacing single-glazed windows with double-glazed can reduce energy loss by more than 70%. Open windows for only a few minutes during cold months (10ºC or less outside) to prevent up to 1 ton of CO2 emissions.
13)  Insulating Properly insulate walls and ceilings to save 25% of a home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulk and weather-strip to save another 1,700 pounds. See Energy Efficient for how-to tips.
14)   Pavement Pave as little as possible. Rip up excess concrete or asphalt.
15)   Population Consider the significance of population growth and what the means for you personally.

16)   Plant a Garden Instead of lawn, plant a bio-diverse garden with vegetables, flowers, herbs, and trees. Focus on perennials, with annuals filling space between.
17)   Animals Create ecosystems in your garden for chickens, bees & goats.
18)   Recycle organic waste. Properly compost kitchen and garden waste or give it to a friend who can. Around 3% of the greenhouse gas emissions are due to methane released by decomposing bio-degradable waste.
19)   Water Collect rainwater and graywater for gardening use. For other watering, use an underground drip system.
20)   Plant everywhere. Experiment growing in all sorts of places: rooftops, walls, bridges, steps, containers.
21)   Plant a tree. A single tree absorbs one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Plant deciduous trees that protect windows from summer sun but allow it in during the winter.
22)   Organics Use organic gardening methods and stay away from chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

23)   Consider the Impact of Investments If you invest money, transfer it from funds that contain fossil fuel related businesses to renewable energy and socially conscious businesses. Learn more at SocialInvest and Ceres.
24)   Local Money Keep your money circulating as close to home as possible. Buy from independent, locally-owned businesses, sustainably using local resources, whose profits can be reinvested in collective communal growth. Use local, socially responsible community credit unions and public banks.

Personal Transportation
25)  Reduce Cut back on driving by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible. Avoiding 10 miles of driving per week eliminates about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
26)   Maintenance Regular maintenance improves fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere. Reduce CO2 emissions by choosing proper gears, not abusing the gas pedal, using the engine brake when possible, and turning off your engine when your vehicle is motionless more than a minute.
27)  Weight Remove unnecessary articles from your car. Each 100 lbs. of weight decreases fuel efficiency by 1%. An empty roof rack can increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% due to wind resistance and weight.
28)   Fuel Efficient Vehicles When it is time for a new car, choose carefully. For every 3 miles per gallon more, you save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year.
29)  Telecommuting Use telecommuting and video conferencing to reduce the number of miles you drive.
30)   Fly Less Air travel produces such large amounts of emissions that cutting down even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. Take the train and offset air travel carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy projects.

Food, Food, Food
31)   How much? Keep track of how much food you waste: are you overbuying/harvesting? Overcooking? Are your eyes bigger than your stomach?
32)   Cut down on meat. Eat plant foods as much as possible. Animals make less efficient use of land, soil, water, and energy – and cows emit 300 liters of methane per day.
33)   Wild Edibles Get to know wild edibles, where they grow, which season, how to harvest them, and what edible & medicinal qualities they posses.
34)   Local Food Buy local and less processed foods from farmers’ markets or a Community-Supported-Agriculture farm. The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate.
35)   Organic Food Eat organically as much as possible. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at higher levels than soils than conventional farms.
36)   Avoid frozen foods. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

Local Advocacy
37)   Recycling Encourage the local recycling center to expand what they accept. Urge local officials to begin roadside pickup of recyclables and hazardous wastes and to buy recycled paper. Start a recycling program at work.
38)   Less Traffic Urge local governments to enact restrictions on automobile use in congested areas downtown.
39)   Run for Election Run for local office on an environmental platform.
40)   Speak Out Attend city or town council meetings and speak out for action on climate change issues.
41)   Get Organized Organize a citizens’ initiative to put a local "climate protection program" into place.
42)   Be There Attend a rally or protest related to climate change.
43)   Civil Disobedience Become trained and engage in civil disobedience.
44)   Cool City Some cities and states have taken action to stop global warming by passing innovative transportation and energy saving legislation. Join the cool cities list.
45)   Give Your Opinion Write letters to your local representatives about climate change and other environmental issues.

Community Organizing
46)   Create a local currency. Trade in dollars that are meant to serve one particular region & population.
47)   Local Climate Organizations Join and become active in or other local active organization.
48)   Faith-based Organizations Get involved in the Jewish Climate Action Network, the One Earth Sangha, Catholic Climate Covenant, or another faith-based climate group.
49)   Houses of Worship Organize your synagogue, church, mosque, or temple to reduce its carbon footprint and become proactive in supporting local, state, and national efforts to combat climate change.
50)   Community Garden Start a gardening collective with friends & neighbors. Use vacant land, park land, school land, or private land. Share seeds, tools, work responsibilities, budgeting & harvests. planting trees, herbs and vegetables on neglected or unused land.
51)   Community Orchard Start a community orchard. Collectively plant trees and share the harvests. Keep community bees and chickens in the orchard.
52)   Reclaim Unused Space Reclaim sidewalk green strips, park lands, street meridians, traffic circles. Plant fruit trees to gift fruit, shade, fresh air, rain flow management, and soil retention.
53)   Preserve Land Start or help support a local land trust. Communally purchasing wild and agricultural lands preserves them for future generations and protects local watershed areas.
54)   Community Foraging Create communal foraging groups and go out gathering with friends.
55)   Buy Together Start a community buying club. Buy your food direct from producers, in bulk quantity, with minimal packaging and big savings.
56)   Communal 3Rs Start a communal ReStore, a warehouse of used doors, windows, wood paneling, bathroom & kitchen fixtures, and more, reclaimed from construction and demolition sites, and sold at minimal costs.
57)   Energy Co-op Create community energy co-ops, collectively designing local solar, wind or hydro power systems.
58)   Water Co-op Create community water co-ops, collectively designing rainwater catchment systems and biological water treatment systems, while also overseeing the health of the local watershed.
59)   Transition Start or join a local transition town group or permaculture guild. Empower yourselves to make the changes you hope to see. Share resources, questions, information, advice.
60)   Carpool Start a carpool with coworkers, classmates, or neighbors. Sharing a ride two days a week can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. connects commuters and travelers.
61)   Car Sharing Car-sharing organizations provide access to a car; membership fees cover gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar – offer low emission cars. Also, see ZipCar.
62)   Demonstrate Organize a demonstration at a plant that uses CFCs.
63)  Group Advocacy Gather a group concerned about climate change and go to your local representative.
Advocacy at State and National Levels
64)  Tell Congress to act. Write your senator and congressperson in support of legislation to protect the planet.
65)  Letters to the Editor Write letters to the editor expressing your about climate change and environmental issues and political solutions.
66)   Politics Support electoral candidates who run on environmental platforms.
67)   Lobbying Learn how to lobby and lobby your local, state, and national elected officials for action on climate change and environmental issues.
68)   CCL Join and become active in Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
69)   Make Your Voice Heard Get the facts about U.S. politicians and candidates at Project Vote Smart and The League of Conservation Voters. Make sure your voice is heard by voting.

Advocacy to Businesses
70)   CFCs Encourage auto centers to install CFC recycling equipment for auto air conditioners. Freon released during servicing becomes both a greenhouse gas and an ozone layer destroyer.
71)   Recycling Pressure fast-food chains to use recyclable packaging.
72)   Fuel Efficiency Write automobile manufacturers, and get your friends to write also, explaining why you intend to buy a fuel efficient car.
73)   Computers Write to computer chip manufacturers and urge them to stop using CFC-113 as a solvent.
74)   Food and Energy Inform schools, hospitals, airlines, restaurants, and the media of your food and energy concerns.
75)   Sewage Encourage your local sewage plant to compost its sludge.
76)   Emissions Encourage your school or business to reduce their emissions.
77)   Rainforests Inform the supplier or manufacturer of rainforest products of your concern about the destruction of rainforests.

Organizational Involvement
78)   Poverty Support work to alleviate poverty, which causes deforestation and other environmental problems.
79)   Donate Join or donate money to environmental organizations involved with climate change
80)  Protect Trees Forests store carbon. Global deforestation accounts for about 20% of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Support programs that aim to save forests.
81)  Virtual March The Stop Global Warming Virtual March is a non-political effort to bring people concerned about global warming together. Add your voice to the hundreds of thousands of other people urging action.

Education and Communication
82)   Educate Yourself Stay informed about the state of the Earth.
83)   Get Along Strive to establish good communications with friends, neighbors and family. Learn conflict resolution skills.
84)   Share Your Concern Talk to friends, relatives, and co-workers about climate change.
85)   Sustainability Read and support publications that educate about long-term sustainability.
86)   Study Group Start a climate change study group.
87)   Children Educate children about sustainable living practices.
88)  Spread the Word Go on a citizen diplomacy trip and talk with those you meet about averting global climate change.
89)  Simpler Lives Learn about the less resource-intensive lifestyles of aboriginal peoples.
90)  Pass It Along Send this list to ten friends or post it on social media.

Maintaining Spiritual and Emotional Strength
91)   Local Climate Live within the local climate as much as possible, rather than trying to isolate yourself from it.
92)   Nature Spend time seeing, hearing, and rejoicing in the beauty of the Earth. Feel your love for the Earth.
93)   Ponder the Future Imagine the kind of Earth you would like to see for your community’s grandchildren’s grandchildren.
94)   Small and Big While doing small things, think big: think about redesigning cities, restructuring the economy, re-conceiving humanity’s role on Earth.
95)  Observe Choose a spot and spend 15 minutes a day observing and participating in the ecology surrounding you. Bring field guides. Journal your findings. Introduce yourself to the extended community of Life of which you are a part.
96)   Meditative Walk Take a walk through the wilds. State an intention, sacred question or prayer before setting off. Wander & see what arises for you.
97)   Elders Those who have lived their lives fully, through many cycles of the Sun, have an invaluable perspective. Support elders in your community.
98)   Children Those who are young in years, wild-eyed, full of energy and questions have an invaluable perspective. Invite children into your lives as teachers.
99)   Celebrate! Celebrate the wisdom and stories of those who have come before. Collectively and individually create practices that honor ancestors.
100)  Spiritual Practice Pray, visualize, hope, meditate, dream.

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