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10 Easy Things You Can Do to Help the Environment

During a time when global environmental catastrophes loom large, clear, and real, it's natural to question the impact of our individual actions. Considering that China is opening a new coal-based power plant every week, does my switching to an energy … Read More

By / April 22, 2008

During a time when global environmental catastrophes loom large, clear, and real, it's natural to question the impact of our individual actions. Considering that China is opening a new coal-based power plant every week, does my switching to an energy efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) really matter? The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) challenged the American Jewish community to start fighting climate change with that simple act. During our How Many Jews Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? campaign, Jews across America heeded the call and switched out their energy inefficient incandescent bulbs for CFLs. Thanks to the response in homes, offices, schools, and synagogues, over 80,000 CFLs were purchased, keeping approximately 29,000 tons of CO2 out of our atmosphere. Simply put: Yes, your independent acts of environmental conservation matter. Below is a list of 10 actions with a range of required effort that will help you and the Jewish community reduce our collective impact on global warming.

  1. Change 5 light bulbs to energy efficient and cost effective compact CFLs ( if all American Jews did this it would be the same as taking 1.76 million cars off the road for a year)
  2. Switch out a meat meal for a vegetarian one (global livestock is responsible for 18% of CO2 emissions and 37% of methane emissions – a greenhouse gas that is twenty times more potent than CO2)
  3. Eat local (in the US, conventional food travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach our markets)
  4. Find new meaning in old traditions: walk or bike to synagogue (only 6% of all trips made in the US are by bike or foot)
  5. Recycle ½ of your household waste (saves 2,400 pounds of CO2 a year)
  6. Install a programmable thermostat and drop it 2 degrees in the winter and raise it 2 degrees in the summer (saves 2,000 pounds of CO2 a year)
  7. Eliminate “phantom loads” by unplugging unused electronics, shutting off power strips, or buying smart ones that will shut it off for you (if all phantom loads in US homes were stopped, we could shut down 17 power plants)
  8. Fully inflate your tires and improve mpg efficiency (Saves 347 lbs of CO2 a year)
  9. Plant a tree – in your own backyard or Israel (if all Jews in America did this it, 6 million tons of CO2 absorbed over its life)
  10. Due to the fact that CO2 is a global gas, when you’ve taken all the actions you can, buy carbon credits to offset the rest.

To purchase appliances that enable tips 6, 7 and 8 click here. Though it may be scary, it’s also empowering. We – in our houses with our family, offices with our colleagues, and community with our friends – can be part of the solution.

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