Right now we’re experiencing a radical disruption in our way of living because of COVID-19 and a mass uprising for racial justice. The Earth Challenge was designed to respond to a different but intertwined crisis, one that is unfolding more slowly but will be no less deadly than this disease and the systemic racism that has shaped our society and economy. We’re learning through this time of upheaval that what seemed unimaginable societal change is possible when we choose to act–even in our fear and vulnerability–for the collective good.
With this in mind, we ask you to join us from now through November 3 in mobilizing registered voters who state they support environmental action, but don’t always vote. We want to make sure they make their voices heard at the ballot box in the coming election and beyond.
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder & CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action
We are living in such a dark and frightening time in human history. And yet the Jewish people, like many peoples, have before faced the threat of annihilation.
The story at the core of our people’s narrative is the journey out of a mitzrayim, Egypt, or literally, a “narrow place.” A place of oppression and genocide.
While wandering in the desert, God reminds us that the path forward, and our redemption, is not in the heavens or beyond our reach. Lo b’shamayim hi. God tells us, “It is not too baffling for you or…beyond your reach. It is not in the heavens…neither is it beyond the sea…. No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart.”
Making clear just how high the stakes are, God goes on to say, “I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity…. blessing and curse. Choose life–so you and your offspring will live.”
In the face of the overwhelming climate crisis, this passage calls us to action, but it also offers us strength and reassurance. Lo b’shamayim hi, it is not in heaven or beyond our reach. It is in our mouths and in our hearts, and we can do it.
It is also in our hands, in both senses of the phrase. It is in our hands: It is up to us. And also it is in our hands: We have the capacity. We have the science, we have the resources, we have the people, and we have the power.
Lo b’shamayim hi. Let us gather the people and exercise our power–so we and our offspring may live.
Ever wondered why politicians don’t take environmental protection more seriously? According to the Environmental Voter Project (EVP) a non-partisan not-for-profit, one important reason is that many registered voters who state that they care deeply about the environment do not vote reliably: In the 2014 midterms, about 15 million registered voters who prioritize environmental issues simply did not show up at the polls, and in 2016, some 10 million self-identified environmentally-driven registered voters did not vote.
Fortunately, get-out-the-vote techniques have become increasingly sophisticated and effective, using the tools of behavioral science to encourage voters to show up on election day. If these techniques were used to encourage committed environmentalists to vote, politicians would be far more inclined to support and advance environmental protection and climate action.
The non-partisan Environmental Voter Project has as its mission to increase turnout of environmentally-committed voters so that their concerns and values will more powerfully impact elected officials. The EVP trains volunteers across the country to mobilize environmental voters in key local, state, and federal elections.
Join IKAR Green Action, IKAR Community Organizing, and the Environmental Voter Project to reach out to people who hold environmentalist values but are unlikely voters, and urge them to vote. All our calls and texts will add up to make a real difference in November and beyond.
- Sign up for one of EVP’s frequent training sessions at a time that works for you.
- Then join us for IKAR’s ½-hour ZOOM PHONE/TEXT BANK PARTIES! We’ll get on Zoom together every Wednesday, 5:00-5:30 pm, from August through the election.
With less than 12 weeks to the election, every voter we get to the polls counts!
Can’t do the training with us or join any of our phone/text parties? No problem! It’s quick and easy to get trained directly with EVP, and once you’re trained you can call and/or text using their platform any time.
Read about the link between racial justice and the environmental crisis:
There is No Climate Justice Without Racial Justice–SoCal350.org
Why communities of color are demanding environmental justice–Los Angeles Times
Racism derails our attempts to fight the climate crisis–The Washington Post
Dayenu is a new Jewish organization mobilizing the American Jewish community to confront climate change. Join Dayenu’s call for a just green recovery, create or join a Dayenu Circle, and engage in bold national campaigns.
Explore a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet
Rabbi Aaron Potek, Sixth & I
The verse “You may eat meat whenever you desire” (Deuteronomy 12:20) might lead one to assume that reducing or eliminating our meat consumption isn’t a Jewish value. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook had a different understanding. He noticed a “hidden reprimand between the lines of the Torah in the sanction to eat meat.”
The permission to eat meat, according to Rav Kook, is dependent on our desire to eat it – a desire we should try to moderate and, eventually, eliminate. “When the time comes for the human condition to abhor [eating] the flesh of animals, because of the moral loathing inherent in that act, you surely will not ‘have the desire to eat meat,’ and you will not eat it.”
Yes, technically the Torah permits the eating of meat, but this is, as Rabbi Samuel H. Dresner writes, “a compromise, a divine concession to human weakness and human need.” The ultimate spiritual ideal is a purely vegetarian diet, which is why our tradition understands that Adam and Eve, the original humans, were prohibited from eating meat. The various laws of kashrut are intended to push us in that direction – limiting the types of animals we can eat, limiting the way those permitted animals can be killed, and limiting the ways we can eat those kosher animals.
In so many ways, we are not currently living out our ideals. But we can each take a step toward redemption by further sensitizing ourselves to the preciousness of all life.
Read about Ethical Kashrut and Jewishveg.org
Switching to a diet based on plants in minimally processed forms is the single most impactful personal change you can make to decrease your environmental footprint.
Making the switch to a whole foods plant based diet provides all of the following benefits:
- Maximize your immunity to viral infection, including COVID-19, and reduce the spread of infectious diseases and pandemics
- Prevent or reverse heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension, and lower your risk of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease
- Reduce the threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs caused by the overuse of antibiotics on livestock
- Limit your exposure to high levels of toxins found in most animal products
Human and Animal Welfare
- Stop supporting an industrial meat production system that exploits workers and is especially dangerous for workers during the COVID19 pandemic
- Reduce cruel animal-farming practices
Environment, Animal Species, and Climate Wellbeing
- Slow climate warming by decreasing emissions from livestock farming
- Contribute to a greater abundance of food to feed a growing global population
- Significantly reduce the amount of water needed to produce our food
- Save rainforests and the wild animal species critically endangered by clearing forests for industrial animal agriculture
- Limit damage to ocean wildlife and fish species caused by overfishing
- Reduce the quantity of food wasted in processing and packaging by choosing whole foods
Changing your eating habits by replacing animal products with whole-plant foods can achieve all of these benefits–to your health, to farm workers, to animal welfare and species survival, and to the health of the planet.
We get it. For many in our community, the unprecedented current crisis is challenging enough. We’re not asking you to jump right in (unless that works for you right now). Our “challenge” is to explore for yourself the myriad benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet. We’re convinced that once you’re armed with this knowledge, personal changes will follow when the time is right for you. So, this month:
- Forks over Knives
- The Game Changers
- Cowspiracy (warning: some disturbing footage)
- Eating Animals
- Health benefits
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- org (and books by Dr. Michael Greger)
- Animal welfare
- We are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer (Hazon discussion guide here)
- Factory Farming & Food Safety
- General: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Substitute vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains for animal products at one or more meals a week. If you use animal products, reduce the quantity and fill in with more plant-based dishes. Experiment with new options and plant-based recipes.
- Send us your favorite easy whole food, plant-based recipes and meal tips. We’ll compile a digital recipe book to share with the community.
Join these organizations to become involved in system change.
Jewish Initiative for Farm Animals
Food Forward – Southern California’s Largest Urban Gleaning Nonprofit
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy
We’re experiencing a radical disruption in our way of living caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Like Israelites and Egyptians, we are living through what feels like a plague just as we approach Passover.
The Earth Challenge was designed to respond to a different crisis, one that is unfolding more slowly, but that will be no less deadly.
While it is difficult to think much beyond the current crisis, this month we challenge you to notice and amplify the connections between the pandemic, how our economies are structured, and the climate emergency. As our governments respond with financial rescue packages for individuals and businesses, we must demand that they do so in ways that transform our economies for the benefit of the environment, our children, and future generations.
So this month, instead of asking you to change your habits, we are asking you to engage with us and climate activists around the world in imagining and demanding a long-term transformation of our ways of living so we can refocus on what matters: sustaining life on our beautiful planet. Realizing our liberation requires nothing less of us.
Rabbi Nate DeGroot — Hazon
“In the years ahead, we will be called to be both the hospice caretakers of the old world, the old structures, and midwives of the new one.” This truth, from one of my teachers of Torah, has stuck with me deeply, as I’ve attuned my senses to a crossfade of sorts, hearing the volume of an old way being lowered as the volume of a new song increases.
We could think of it like the Israelites leaving Egypt, escaping the cacophony of forced servitude while cranking up the volume on liberation. At the crux of that crossfade is the 10th plague, when God vows to kill all the Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 12.12), galvanizing the Israelite exodus across the sea. In that same breath, God also promises to execute judgment on the false gods of Egypt (12.12). According to the midrash (Exodus Rabbah 16.3), the true liberation comes not from the physical leaving of Egypt, but from the Israelites’ refusal to worship the idols of slavery.
We are in that moment now. In just a few short days, COVID-19 has thrown our system into near-total collapse. And in so doing, it has exposed the inequity and dehumanization that run deep within our social and political systems, shining a light onto our culture’s idol worship.
Our response to COVID-19 must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable. But our response can’t end there. Because we are decades into a global climate crisis that will greatly outpace this current pandemic in severity and scope. For us to come out the other side of that larger existential crossfade, we must soften our hearts enough to collectively execute judgment on the false gods of this extractive culture. Nothing less will do.
Then we will be free to amplify and sing along with the songs rising from all corners, as we learn what it means to take care of one another and what’s really demanded of us in order to help midwife the future that we know is already on its way.
- Consider asking this at your seder table: What would it look like to clean out the chametz of business as usual? What if we dream big about what a Promised Land of really caring for the Earth and each other could look like?
- Join an IKAR Green Action: COVID-19 and Climate Change Conversation. Monday, April 13, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm. PST.
- Participate in Earth Day Live, a global three-day virtual mobilization with teach-ins, performances and collective action to stop the climate emergency, April 22–24.
- Join Hazon on Earth Day, April 22 for #soundthecall by blowing the shofar as a call of solidarity during these difficult times, and to raise a banner of hope and change for the world.
Q&A: A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible Ties Between COVID and Climate
How the climate fight could mimic the coronavirus fight
What the Coronavirus teaches us about Climate Change (COVID-19).
Why don’t we treat the climate crisis with the same urgency as coronavirus?
March 2020: Ditch Disposables and Aim for Zero Waste
Rabbi Nussbaum, Kavana Cooperative
In “The Graduate,” recent college grad Benjamin Braddock finds himself at a backyard party where a neighbor gives him career advice in a single word: “Plastics.” Even when the film came out in 1967, the word “plastics” already connoted so much: bourgeois consumer culture, cheapness, and inauthenticity. More than half a century later, our society at large is beginning to wake up to the lasting damage we are doing by creating and disposing of all sorts of materials, particularly (but not only) single-use plastics.
We would be wise to draw on deeply-rooted Jewish values as we seek to change both our own behavior and our culture. The principle of bal tashchit, not wasting, stems from the Torah (Deuteronomy 20:19-20), where the Israelites are commanded that when they go to war and lay siege to an area, they should not cut down fruit trees. The implication is clear: It’s inappropriate to trade away the resources of the future for short-term gain. The rabbis of the Talmud expanded the category, applying bal tashchit to the unnecessary destruction of many more resources, from animals and clothing to furniture and lamp oil. They (and later rabbinic commentators) understand wanton destruction as an affront to the Creator, too.
Today, it is time for us to expand the category of bal tashchit once again, this time to include the millions of single-use plastic bottles, take-out containers, and bags that we Americans dispose of every single hour. As “The Graduate” suggested, plastics weren’t ever really the future at all, but rather a stunted path, a dead end. If we continue to participate in disposable consumer culture unchecked–leaving heaps of trash for future generations and depleting the resources of our planet–we are, in effect, throwing away our future. Judaism demands that we do better.
Since cheap plastics became abundant after the Second World War, we’ve developed a “single-use” disposable culture. From coffee cups to plastic cutlery, we’ve forgotten a world in which our tools and utensils were saved and cared for. The costs of our convenience are evident in overflowing landfills, plastic-choked waters, and stricken wildlife. Our ease is paid for by neighborhoods with nicknames like “Cancer Alley” because of their proximity to toxic plastic production plants. We now know that only 9% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled and that this proportion will diminish as plastic production booms.
As the public wakes up to the plastics crisis, some companies have been working to develop and promote alternative “compostable” single-use disposables. Compostables are likely preferable to plastics made from fossil fuels, which can take 1000 years to decompose. But there are many problems with single-use compostables, including insufficient industrial composting facilities, incorrect waste stream allocation, toxic chemicals in production and compost output, and resource-intensive production and transportation.
Most of all, compostables perpetuate and disguise an underlying sickness: Our waste problem is not just a plastics problem; it’s also a single-use problem. It’s time to ditch our disposable culture and re-create a way of life in which we rely on sturdy, long-lasting items designed to be lovingly used, re-used, and perhaps even passed on to the next generation.
This month, adopt at least two new “reusables” habits:
- Refuse to use throwaway foodware: Take your own reusable water bottle or cup and utensils to food outlets that only provide disposables. Or just ask for reusables. Having a party? Get creative and try to use reusables instead of plastics. Or join the movement to develop neighborhood reusables party packs. Bring your own containers to restaurants for leftovers.
- Shop sustainably by bringing your own containers to bulk bin stores. Bring your own reusable produce bags. Get your personal care and cleaning products from a refillable source, or use unpackaged alternatives, like shampoo bars.
- Agitate to get disposable foodware and other items replaced with reusables in your workplace and in other communities you’re a part of.
- Start conversations with your family, friends, and neighbors to share ideas about what you’re each doing to shift to reusables.
- Bring your e-waste and textile waste for upcycling to Green Action’s Pre-Passover Purge on Sunday, March 15.
- #CutOutCutlery Globally! Send a letter to DoorDash and Grubhub – two of the largest food delivery platforms: Ask them to allow customers to only receive plastic cutlery by request. UberEats and Postmates have already complied with this campaign!
- Californians: Sign Heal the Bay’s petition in support of SB-54, the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.
- US residents: Send an email to your Congress Members to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 to hold corporations and plastic producers accountable for the single-use plastic crisis.
A very short, informative movie about plastic pollution
Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act introduced in US Senate
$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge
Compostable plastic? Not so much
Let us know you’re participating in this month’s challenge here. Inspire your friends by posting to social media at #Earth5780. We’re giving out green prizes plus an aliyah each month to a few lucky winners, but you have to complete this month’s form to be entered in the drawing!
Rabbi David Kasher, IKAR:
TU b’Shvat, which the rabbis called a “Rosh Hashanah for Trees,” is the ultimate example of an evolving Jewish holiday. It began as an official marking point in the ancient Hebrew calendar for laws regulating yearly fruit consumption. In the 16th century, Kabbalists came up with the TU b’Shvat Seder, a sacred meal-ritual that employed images of the tree for a meditation intended to spiritually repair the cosmos. And now, in our own time, TU b’Shvat has been reclaimed as a time to recommit to our environmental responsibilities, and to take action to repair the damage we have done to the earth. How can one holiday come to mean so many things?
These vastly different manifestations of TU b’Shvat speak to the prominence of trees in human life and consciousness. Trees, these quiet companions, have always been with us, providing us with oxygen, lumber, and food. No surprise, then, that trees have become primary symbols of meaning for us. In the earliest stories of the Torah, trees represent Life and Knowledge. But eventually, this symbol was used to represent the Torah itself, which we call “The Tree of Life.” Let us take this TU b’Shvat, then, as an opportunity to celebrate not just one aspect of trees, but the full forest, in all their manifold meanings for human beings and for all life on the planet.
The climate emergency requires not only that we stop using fossil fuels, but that we find large-scale ways to capture carbon from the atmosphere. Planting more trees captures carbon and keeps it out of the atmosphere. Trees also provide a myriad of other benefits: They absorb pollutants from the atmosphere and release oxygen for us to breathe, cool our cities, conserve water, prevent soil erosion, feed us, and give habitat to 80% of plant and animal species.
Meanwhile, every day, we lose 80,000 acres of forest across the planet. Unsustainable logging, fires, clearcutting for agriculture, ranching and development, and degradation from climate change are jointly responsible. We must both plant trees and fight to preserve the world’s remaining forests.
This month, take at least two actions to increase the number of trees or food-growing plants on the planet:
Plant a tree on your property or in your neighborhood. Ask the city of Los Angeles for a FREE tree for your yard or sidewalk (or get free trees for your whole street!).
Grow something edible in your yard or on your windowsill. Join a community urban garden or take a class like these ones offered by Gardenerd and the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative.
Support Tree People, which has been working to bring the benefits of trees to Los Angeles since 1970.
Volunteer with City Plants to plant trees in underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Give trees as a present for our future with Plant for the Planet. Plant for the Planet empowers children around the world to be Climate Justice Ambassadors, educating others and planting trees in the places that need them most.
Take action to save America’s largest wild forest.
Take action with the Rainforest Action Network to preserve rainforests around the world.
Educate yourself about natural climate solutions, to become a better advocate.
Shade as an environmental justice issue in LA
Let us know you’re participating in this month’s challenge here. Inspire your friends by posting to social media at #Earth5780. We’re giving out green prizes plus an aliyah each month to a few lucky winners, but you have to complete this month’s form to be entered in the drawing!
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, LAB/SHUL:
I joined the Compost Crusade. There are two of us so far. Earlier this year, right after moving into my new apartment in East Harlem in NYC, a compost bin was installed in the trash room. Finally, with a decent-size kitchen and a convenient compost option I had no excuse– and I got hooked. Fell in love with compost as a sacred spiritual duty on top of just being the right thing to do. But just as I was perfecting my composting chic, the building board removed the bin. Too many residents misused it. Another outraged neighbor and I started the Compost Crusade that very night in the trash room. We’re offering a free series of how-to workshops to better learn the art of compost and win our bin back.
Compost is increasingly recognized as a simple but profound way to have an impact on our planet. It is holy not only because we give back to our earth what we got– with gratitude, humility and strategic wisdom– but also because it is the very metaphor for how to better live our personal and public lives. To compost is as real as the eternal invitation for Tikkun Olam can ever be: We are instructed to literally lift up the scraps of our existence, raise the sparks of repair and recharge reality from each fragment that becomes, again, the greater whole.
2020 is our year of Environmental Teshuva. Find your way to a compost bin in 2020 and let’s talk trash, then walk the talk. It’s on us.
Food waste and yard trimmings make up nearly one third of the waste incinerated or landfilled in the US each year. Composting is a powerful tool for slowing climate change, but only about 6% of food waste in America is composted today. When organic materials are landfilled, they decompose anaerobically (without air), generating large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent that carbon dioxide. Composting reduces methane production, and it helps sequester carbon by returning food to the ground in the form of healthy soil. Community or at-home composting prevents our organic waste from being transported long distances, and compost can replace harmful chemical fertilizers, reducing run-off pollution and soil erosion while contributing to healthy ecosystems.
This month, start from where you are and take a leap towards more composting at home and in your neighborhood by picking at least one of these actions:
- Stop before you drop… food into the trash. Place a bin beside your kitchen sink, and get started. Find out what you can compost through your city, and make sure you’re doing as much as you possibly can. (Did you know that in Los Angeles, uncooked fruits and vegetables can go in the green bin?) Santa Monica and Culver City are way ahead. They allow all food waste, compostable products and food-soiled paper.
- Ready to level-up? Learn about your home composting options, and attend a workshop to see how you can transform your food waste into rich, healthy soil for your garden. (Hint: There’s an IKAR composting workshop on Sunday, January 26.)
- Been composting for years? Explore ways to expand composting in your neighborhood. Start a conversation about community composting, or share your composting practice with at least one friend or neighbor.
- Become a soil health advocate by learning about regenerative agriculture. You can take an online healthy soils advocacy course or a or hands-on soil and gardening class with Kiss the Ground.
- Are your building’s or city’s composting efforts inadequate? Tell your landlord, homeowners’ association or city councilmember. Get organized.
LA Compost printable guide to composting
LASAN Composting Guide
101 Composting Tips
Interview with Michael Martinez, founder and executive director of LACompost.
Let’s inspire one another! Let us know you’re participating here and enter a drawing to win an aliya and a green prize each month. And post to social media with #Earth5780.
Light is a symbol of resilience and hope in most traditions, especially in dark times when the days get shorter and the nights get longer and colder. Remember the miracle of Hanukkah? The oil lasting 8 nights when it was only supposed to last for one? Well, the Talmud says, miracles are nice but unreliable (lo som’chim al ha’nes!) We can’t pray for a Hail Mary from God (so to speak) to keep our environment resilient for longer than we have resources. We need to dig deep into our ancestral memory to remember what it felt like to have the discipline to kindle the lamps daily, as the Torah describes in many places– the Eternal Flame, or Ner Tamid. Keeping the light shining is part of what it means to be Jewish. Once upon a time the job of our priests was to do the lighting for us… but we’re the kingdom of priests now. The sustaining of light eternally, connecting us with resilient, bright, beautiful, God-infused light, is on us.
– Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann, Mishkan Chicago
The climate crisis is directly fueled by our energy consumption. Experts tell us that we must stop using fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and even the natural gas that has been promoted as “cleaner” energy. All of us can be a part of the solution: We can use less energy in our homes and workplaces, and we can transition to renewable sources like solar and wind energy.
The City of Los Angeles has committed to 100% renewable energy by 2045, and many local groups are pushing for 100% renewables by 2030. That is an ambitious goal– and we’ve got a long way to go to reach it. But it is possible– especially if we all do our part.
This month, adjust at least three of your home energy practices. Here are our recs:
1 Switch to LEDs. These bulbs are up to 80% more efficient than regular bulbs, and they are now available and affordable. (Did you know that incandescent lights convert 95% of energy to heat and
only 5% into light?) LED light bulbs also use less power, so they’ll reduce your energy bills and emit less carbon.
2. Get smart about VAMPIRE appliances, which use energy even when they’re off. These appliances—including computers, modems, cell phone chargers, video game systems, cable and satellite TV boxes, household items with clocks (microwaves, DVD players, etc.) and more—account for about 10% of the energy used in your home. What a waste! Unplug these appliances and electronics when not in use—then just plug them in when you need them. Think of all the energy you’ll save.
3. Go solar if you can. There are so many reasons why solar is smarter: It’s pollution-free, and causes no greenhouse emissions. It’s clean and available, even on cloudy days. The technology is getting better every day. Today, solar requires almost no maintenance and will last for more than 30 years. It’s safe, efficient, and can be used to heat water and to power homes, buildings, and cars. And there are federal grants and tax incentives available to help with installation costs.
Ready for the advanced class? Replace old appliances with ENERGY STAR ones, weatherize, insulate, and switch gas appliances to electric.
Join California’s Keep it Golden Movement to chart a course to a zero carbon state, and learn more about simple, practical steps you can take right now. And whatever you do… turn off the lights!
turn off the lights!
Local: Cool roofs lower home energy use and reduce heat island effects. Urge Mayor Garcetti to update the City of Los Angeles Cool Roof Code to match the higher standard set by LA County.
National: A bill to transition the U.S. to 100% clean energy by 2050 has just been introduced in Congress. Send a message to your representative: Take action on the climate crisis now by championing the 100% Clean Economy Act!
And it’s ok to brag. Let’s inspire one another! Let us know you’re participating here. And post to social media with #Earth5780.
We’re giving out green prizes each month to help inspire you to take the challenge. So make sure to fill out the survey above!
Slay the Energy Vampires in Your Devices
Residential Solar Consumer Guide
Easy Ways to Save Energy at Home
November 2019: Transform Your Travel
Nearly 1000 years before the Industrial Revolution, our Rabbis wrote an astonishing midrash about the preciousness and precariousness of life on earth. God leads Adam around all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and says to him: “’Look at My works—see how stunning and magnificent they are! Know this: everything I created, I created for you. But be mindful that you not degrade and destroy My world, for if you spoil it– אין מי שיתקן אחריך– there will be no one after you to repair it.'” (Kohelet Rabbah 7:13)
It was our sacred responsibility from the start to honor and sustain the natural world. To see trees as the life sustaining miracles they are. To protect our biodiversity and to be responsible stewards of all we have been entrusted.
But over time, the allure of big profit overwhelmed the admonition of the prophets, ancient and contemporary, and we consumed, burned, and wasted. We trashed our inheritance.
Now the climate crisis is here. And there is no one after us to repair it.
IT MATTERS how we respond to the climate crisis. It matters how and what we eat. What we plant. What we throw away. It matters how we shop and what we buy. It matters that we vote and who we vote for. We can’t do everything, but there is simply no scientific or moral calculation that justifies doing nothing. So let’s do something, together.
Did you know that transportation accounts for almost 30% of US greenhouse gas emissions? Airplane and cruise ship travel generates the highest emissions per person per mile, but cars and trucks make up an astonishing one-fifth of all emissions.
ACT: We’re not asking you to disavow all air travel, and we know that not everyone is ready to transition to an electric car. But our small day-to-day transportation decisions can have a significant impact on the environment. This month, we challenge you to change your mode of transportation at least three times to reduce your carbon footprint. Take public transportation or carpool to work or school. Ride your bike to a friend’s house. Walk to the grocery store. Take a pass on the in-person work meeting and teleconference instead… in your slippers. (No one will know!)
And record your success stories! It’s ok to brag. Let’s inspire one another to rethink our daily transportation habits.
ADVOCATE: Even as we take individual action, we must also advocate for systemic change.
This month, call for a faster transition to electric trucking in California here: Electrictrucksnow.com.
And send an email to your state legislator asking them to pass legislation that would give Southern Californians the ability to take action for clean air and carbon reduction by allowing a local ballot measure to address our regional environmental challenges.
Click here to tell us you’re up for the challenge. We’re holding a drawing each month for participants to receive something to help you green your daily life.
Earth Challenge Resources
How to go green with public transportation — some ideas for ways to undertake the transport challenge
Transit App — a handy app for using multiple modes of transport for a single trip
LA Metro — includes maps and trip planners for bus, rail, and bikes alone or in combination.
Create a carpool — set up carpools for any group activity
LA County Bicycle Coalition — learn how to bike in LA
LADOT — learn about transport in LA
MoveLA — get involved with local efforts to improve LA transit