I posted a couple of weeks ago about how much my grocery shopping habits change as Passover approaches. Over the last few days, I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon in my environmental footprint . I’m a cloth diapering, line-drying, walking-not-driving, composting kind of mama. (That doesn’t mean I consistently accomplish all of those things, mind you, but at last they’re part of my ethos.) On Passover, I seem to be treading a lot less lightly on the earth.
Since the seder is big on 4′s – 4 sons, 4 cups of wine, 4 questions, 4 matzahs (oh, wait a minute, I guess no one puts out a fourth matzah for Soviet Jews anymore) here are my four environmental sins of Passover, in no particular order.
1. Overpackaged products: I think the contents of the boxes of cereal we bought weigh less than the boxes themselves. Then there’s 12 inch box of chocolate lollipops that contained exactly four lollipops and about a yard of plastic. I also bought my quinoa in a box, instead of bulk, to ensure no chametz, and bought at least 6 different lousy desserts, each in its own box, plus about a million individually wrapped Joya sesame candies.
2. Curses, foil again: I no longer cover my refrigerator shelves or oven racks with foil, but even so, we go through almost a full roll of foil over the holiday. I also buy aluminum pans at the dollar store, and use those for most of my baking and roasting.
3. Water, water everywhere (plus a lot of gas an electricity): I fill and empty many, many large pots water for the sole purpose of kashering. I suppose I could wait until the water cools off and do something really green with it, like water the lawn, but I prefer to burn myself with it instead. I also launder every single one of my grocery bags, cloth napkins and dishtowels. Even with our low water appliances, there’s a lot of extra water and energy going into the cleaning.
4. Wasted food: Although we do strive to stop buying much chametz after Purim, I usually have some partially consumer products that I can’t convince any of my non-Jewish friends to take off my hands. (This year, there was the sweet soy sauce bought for one recipe, last year’s matzoh meal, and the last inch of a few condiments that wound up in the trash. And to be honest, I don’t even think I rinsed out the containers and recycled them.) One must also account for all of the completely unappetizing Passover food that no one in his right mind will eat come sundown on Thursday.
L’shanah Ha-baah B’Yerushalayim, Next Year in Jerusalem, or at least in a greener home. I know I could do a lot worse, but may I do a better job of caring for the earth and teaching my daughters to conserve our precious resources in the upcoming year.