The Jewish people have a very credible claim on tending the earth. There is no doubt that we are admonished, warned and compelled to value, guard and protect. We have a holiday to celebrate trees that predates Arbor Day by thousands of years. Rabbi Lester Bronstein beautifully articulates, “Becoming responsible for the garden is our most sacred truth.” Let us use the worldwide holiday, Earth Day, which follows so closely on the heels of Passover, our Spring re-birth, to participate in protecting the planet. Currently, Greenpeace is campaigning to relieve the earth of the onslaught of single-use hot beverage containers of which Starbucks contributes 4 billion daily worldwide. Is yours one?  This number computes to 1.6 million trees harvested each year for Starbucks alone. At the same time, single use beverage containers, which would include plastic bottles, are the biggest contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans. The problem is so great that scientists predict that if nothing changes, the oceans will have more plastic than fish by the year 2050.

Recently I brought my own china cup to a Solel event and then did the same attending an event at Lakeside. Both times I got noticed, and in a very positive way. Folks thought it was a good idea! Perhaps you will too. While we want to pressure Starbucks to reduce their impact and provide product that can at least be recycled, the very best thing is to get your own travel mug and have Starbucks provide coffee only. They actually give a discount when you do. Perhaps we could even start a tzedakah project with the savings. Let the kids figure that out, while adults set the bring your own mug example.

Rabbi Bronstein continues: “We are the sacred priests of planet Earth… When the midwinter moon is full, look outside. Even if the trees are bare, connect to their power and strength. Plant a tree and recommit yourself to being responsible for our Earth.”

And lets add Bring Your Own  Cup. This will make you part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Again our teachings insist that while we may not solve a problem, we are not free to desist from it, and if we do not take of the Earth, “there will be none to come after.”

– Andy Amend

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