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Guardians of the Earth

Introducing “Guardians of the Earth" - or in Hebrew: "Shomrei Adamah

Its name describes the way that the Torah sees human beings — as guardians of the earth that has been entrusted to us. Our tradition sees care for the natural world and its inhabitants as both a religious and a moral obligation. In the past year, many of us have become even more aware of the natural world around us in all its splendor and all its challenges. This heightened awareness has led to heightened urgency to practice the mitzvah to care for the earth and to protect it. In this space we’ll share information about how the synagogue community is practicing this mitzvah, suggestions for how you and your family might become more engaged in guarding the earth, and thoughts on planting trees, conserving energy and myriad Jewish concerns.


September 7, 2022

Solar on the Go
You’ve seen them – little posts along front yard paths and gardens that gently light the way. And you may have noticed tiny little fountains in bird baths, but no wires. Solar power extends well beyond the roof panels and solar panel farms one sees along the highway.

Solar energy is used to power all types of items – ranging from children’s motorized toys to charging banks for small electronics, all the way to boat batteries. Solar panels come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. For example, they come small enough to be attached to a backpack so they can charge as you hike; others come in soft panels that can be wrapped on rounded or uneven surfaces. This means that one no longer needs to break the bank in order to take advantage of the environmental and economic benefits of solar energy.

Click here for Earth911’s article on types of portable solar energy systems. For some ideas on how to use small solar panels, click here.


August 24, 2022

Holey Jeans? (And socks? And Sheets?)
Your old textiles never have to go to a landfill again.

The no-brainer part – for years we have been giving our cast-offs a second life by donating them to resale shops, sharing them with a friend or loved one, or even altering them to become a different style or accessory. But, did you know…

All the other textiles that go to the trash do major harm to our environment. They sit in landfills forever and the items that are made from synthetic fibers actually release chemicals and microfibers that end up in our oceans. Not good.

To address this waste, there are an increasing number of textile recycling programs being established. Denim can be turned into insulation, synthetic socks can be made into plastic bottles, pens, etc., and sheets can be made into rags. Items made of 100% natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk) can be composted.

Here are a few resources to start you on your textile recycling journey:
     Reader’s Digest – How to Recycle Old Clothes
     Simple Recycling – Curbside Collection
     Blue Jeans Go Green – Renewing Denim
     SMART – Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association


August 10, 2022

Make A Difference: Switch Out Just One Everyday Item
Here’s the deal: Plastic sponges pile up in landfills. They don’t go “away.”

Cellulose sponges are biodegradable and can be thrown into your compost, as they are made primarily from wood pulp. Some sponges are treated with chemicals during manufacturing in order to reduce bacterial growth, so it’s important to use non-treated sponges in your compost. Look for “biodegradable” on the packaging.

For more about the pros and cons of biodegradable compost sponges, click here.
For a list of sustainable alternatives to kitchen sponges, click here.

What other everyday household items might you consider switching out for a cleaner, greener alternative… Dental Floss? Window Cleaner? Paper Cups? Plastic Wrap? Single Use Containers? 


July 27, 2022

Cut the Grass
Literally – get rid of it! And go native while you’re at it.

Having a lush, soft green lawn may look amazing – but there are many challenges to consider. Is it worth all the energy needed to maintain them – weeding, mowing, watering? Is it worth the cost of the electricity or the gas needed for the lawnmower, as well as the carbon footprint those entail? And water – when droughts are becoming more and more common, can we – with good conscience – use so much of it on our lawn?

A growing trend is to landscape without a lawn. Using decorative rocks, barks, and native plants can create a truly beautiful yard without the ongoing maintenance required for a lush, soft green lawn. Native plants are already acclimated to the environment and so they do not require pesticides or anywhere near the same amount of water. Ornamental grasses? Happily, they do not need to be mowed. The initial planning and planting can take some time, so start small with one section of the yard, and add on as your energy allows. It’s a great way to think green.

You can access an abundance of information about “Native Gardening” here, published by the U.S. Forest Service.


July 13, 2022

What’s a Carbon Footprint?
You may have heard – the U.S. Supreme Court recently delivered a ruling which limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. This is disappointing news and we take comfort in the fact that the trend in the power industry is to find cleaner, greener sources for energy (solar and wind). But this decision also underscores that it is incumbent on all citizens of the Earth to curb their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and personally contribute to the slowing of Climate Change.

A few important ELEMENTS to this discussion… (see what we did there?)

  1. According to the EPA , the main GHGs are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and many fluorinated gases.
  2. Wikipedia defines Carbon Footprint as “the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).”
  3. GHGs build up in our atmosphere and absorb radiation and trap heat, rather than allowing it to escape from our atmosphere.
  4. GHGs come mainly from countless types of human activity.
    

Some simple changes in your behavior can help to reduce your Carbon Footprint – whether it be in the way you shop, the activities in which you participate, or even how you handle waste. For more ideas – the New York Times has provided lots of suggestions regarding travel, food consumption, and your home in this article, “How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.” 


June 29, 2022

Q: How Can a Tomato Save the World?
A: Grow it in your own yard!

It’s not quite that simplistic, but it’s a great start.

When purchasing produce at the store, there are many environmental costs that come with it - most significantly the carbon emissions produced by transporting that item what could be hundreds of miles. Plus the emissions produced by you travelling to and from the store! Also, food grown on large farms is often sprayed with chemicals. Yuck!

Here’s the great news: growing your own food has many benefits for both the Earth and for you! Growing your own:

·eliminates the need for travel (carbon emissions).

·allows you to skip the pesticides

·gives you the chance to grow the specific varieties you prefer

·means super fresh food

·provides exercise as you plant, water, weed, and maintain your garden.

It’s not necessary to have a huge plot of land for your garden. Balconies, patios, and porches along with some containers, this is enough space to get going. Earth911 provides this primer on how to grow lots of vegetables in small spaces. This article by Savvy Gardening discusses the easiest vegetables to grow and gives you tips for getting started.


June 15, 2022

Have You Heard of the Fatbergs?
No – it’s not a local prominent Jewish family. A fatberg is a rock-like mass of waste matter in a sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solids, such as wet wipes, and fat, oil and grease (FOG) deposits. The resulting lumps of congealed material can be as strong as concrete.

     Yes – it’s gross!  The problems created by fatbergs can be extremely costly (blocked and backed up sewer systems) as well as detrimental to the environment. Flushable wipes serve as a surface on which the FOG elements gather and coagulate. Although they are marketed as flushable – it is important to note that they do not biodegrade!

     You can take these actions to help prevent the creation and build-up of fatbergs:

1.      Don't pour fats, oils, or grease down the drain. As fatbergs are primarily made up of congealed fat, oil, and grease, these substances must be disposed of responsibly - in a container (re-use the containers/tubs other foods come in).

2.      Scrape any leftover food into the bin!

3.      Install a grease trap.

4.      Regularly maintain your drains.

     For more details about these steps, visit this page. Although we advocate for prevention, it is encouraging to see that there are opportunities for turning fatbergs into biofuel. An interesting read on this issue by Smithsonian Magazine can be found here.


June 1, 2022

Fill ‘er Up!

Chizuk Amuno is happy to announce their most recent step taken in support of a more sustainable future. Charging stations for electrical vehicles have been installed in our south parking lot through a partnership with the Electric Vehicle Institute. Four parking spaces have been designated for “EV Only.” Visitors to the building with electric or hybrid cars can take advantage of “topping off” their battery while attending minyan, taking a class, meeting with their child’s teacher, etc. Credit cards are accepted and after paying a $1 initiation fee, the cost is $0.36 per kilowatt hour.

Some of the advantages to driving an electric or hybrid car include the savings on fuel – the cost of running the car on electricity is much less than the cost of gasoline. No pollutants are emitted while in electric mode and generally maintenance is reduced due to using an efficient electric motor. In addition, there are some tax advantages to investing in electric vehicles. Are you considering purchasing an electric car? Check out this list of benefits and considerations published by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The future is HERE and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.


May 18, 2022

How to Shrink Your Packaging Footprint
Two bottles of shampoo. One is plain. The other has pretty graphics and is placed inside a box with a plastic window and equally lovely graphics. The ingredients are exactly the same. No contest! We go with less packaging.

A 16 oz. bag of chips. A box of 16 individual 1 oz. bags of chips. No contest! We go with less packaging. And we just fill up a reusable container when we pack a lunch. Less waste and cost-effective too!

A bin of asparagus bundled in rubber bands. A bin of asparagus shrink-wrapped on individual Styrofoam trays. No contest! We go with less packaging. The production of Styrofoam/polystyrene contributes to climate change. It is slow to degrade and leaches hazardous chemicals into the environment.

According to the U.S. EPA, packaging accounts for nearly a third of municipal solid waste in the United States. It is imperative that we are strategic in our purchasing habits in addition to our “reduce, reuse, recycle” practices. As you plan your shopping, keep in mind stores that offer bulk choices (and bring your own reusable mesh bags). “Buy local” – that saves on gasoline. If you’re shopping online, find businesses that support sustainable efforts – like organic products or reduced packaging. Many well-known large corporations (Amazon, Best Buy, Clif Bar, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, etc.) have joined the Climate Pledge Friendly initiative, which requires regular reporting, carbon elimination, and credible offsets. Some businesses offer the option of shipping all your purchases at once so that only one box is used.

To get an idea of how they’re reducing packaging “down under” – check out this article. Please do your homework. Informed choices will help to keep our Earth healthy for future generations.


May 4, 2022

Here's an Electrifying Thought!
The next time you gift an electronic toy or accessory to a friend or family member, how about including a pack of rechargeable batteries and a charger. Although the initial cost of rechargeable batteries is higher than regular batteries, over the long-term there will definitely be savings in dollars. And speaking of saving the green, this also means less waste and fewer harmful chemicals leaking into our groundwater.

Learn more about the benefits of rechargeable batteries here

Learn about recycling non-rechargeable batteries here


April 20, 2022

Chizuk Amuno's Community Garden

Let's talk about the newest sustainability project taking place on our campus. Lots of progress has been made in the Garden, which is located behind the playground (behind the building). The ground has been prepared. Individual raised bed planter boxes have been assembled and our preschoolers have lovingly decorated them. The fence is now up and the next steps are to shovel and lay out the wood chips for the pathway and help fill the garden beds with soil. We would like to get a group of volunteers together to do this on a Sunday. It should take about a half a day. 

The Garden will provide an opportunity for members of the community to literally get their hands dirty - by planting, sowing, watering, harvesting, etc. The vegetables and herbs grown in this sacred space will be used for imparting to our children and families the importance of being the best stewards of our planet through community building and sustainability efforts.

The target for having the Garden in working order is late May - just in time for prime growing season. Volunteers are needed for:
          - physical garden labor
          -  aid in gathering and borrowing materials (wheelbarrow, spade shovels, metal rakes, etc.)
          - planting, decorating, and various other tasks

If you would like to contribute to this exciting project, please be in touch with Judy Mont, 718-915-3248 or jmont@chizukamuno.org.


April 6, 2022

Happy Earth Day!
On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was marked by nation-wide demonstrations by U.S. citizens coming together to battle the negative impact of industrial development – the loss of wilderness, extinction of animal species, the increase in human health issues. The number of protests was massive and collectively their message could not be ignored. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several environmentally focused Acts passed by Congress. Twenty years later – Earth Day became a globally recognized observance. For a complete history of Earth Day, click here.

This year, Earth Day falls on a Friday (April 22) and over the coming weeks there are plenty of events taking place in the area. We encourage you to be kind to the Earth and register for some, whether they are educational or hands-on volunteer opportunities. Or create your own activity for you and your family or friends to carry out – i.e. a neighborhood clean-up, mulching a local park, or switch out lightbulbs to a more efficient product.  

Here are a few local events that may interest you:

Planting Trees in Irvington
Friday, April 15, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sponsored by Blue Water Baltimore.

Project Clean Stream 101
Wednesday, April 20, 12-12:30 p.m.
Let’s Talk Trash! The Alliance for the Chesapeake will teach you how to organize your own clean-up.

Arbutus Middle School Clean-Up
Sunday, April 24, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Join Patapsco Heritage Greenway to “clean and green” this area which sits on the Herbert Run, a tributary to the Patapsco River.


March 23, 2022

An Alternative Solar System
As you know, this past November, Chizuk Amuno installed 193 solar panels on our roof. These panels will generate approximately 15% of the congregation and school’s electrical usage. In addition to the reduction of fossil fuel usage, there are many benefits. So far, the panels have eliminated over 19,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, and we expect to save $20,000-$25,000 in electric bills annually.

We’re proud to take part in this very meaningful sustainability practice. We are joining the ranks of countless other faith-based organizations that find it imperative to care for Earth. Click here to learn about The ASSOCIATED’s environmental policies. Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA) educates congregations throughout the region about the ravages of fossil fuels and the benefits of solar power. They also supply resources and provide support for those looking to save energy and invest in solar.

What about you? Have you considered integrating solar energy into your life? You can begin small with, for example, solar chargers for phones or laptops. For a minimal investment, you can stop worrying about that red icon telling you that your phone is at 5%. If you are thinking about installing a solar power system for your home, it may be helpful to check out this list of top solar panels compiled by Earth911.

Fun Fact: On a typical sunny day, Chizuk Amuno’s system produces enough electricity to power an average house for a month. If you would like to ‘adopt’ one of the solar panels installed our roof, click here or contact Sarah Jacobs.


March 9, 2022

It's Raining, It's Pouring...
This gorgeous weather we’re having may remind you that Spring is on its way! And with that will come lots of Spring showers. What to do with all that water?

Here’s the answer! Save it up and use it throughout the growing season for watering your gardens – whether they be in-ground, in raised beds, or in containers. Here are a few benefits to using rain barrels:

Save Money. Reduce your water bill with a rain barrel's water catch
Reduce Runoff Pollution & Erosion. Runoff from rains pick up soil, oil, pesticides, fertilizers and other contaminates and push them to other areas.
Promote Plant & Soil Health
Conserve Water
Wash Cars & Windows

If you’ve been considering installing a water barrel – the time is right! Through March 31, Baltimore County is hosting a water barrel sale. Products can be ordered online at baltimore.enviroworld.us. All orders will be delivered directly to Baltimore City or Baltimore County residents’ homes by April 30, 2022.

To learn more about using Rain Barrels, read this article by the World Wildlife Fund.


February 23, 2022

Plastics. Think About It.
In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” Mr. McGuire pulled Ben Braddock aside and gave us one of the most iconic quotes from that era: “One word. Plastics." He went on to say: "There is a great future in plastics. Think about it.” It all sounded so promising then – the convenience, the variety of products and uses, the low cost. Fifty-five years later, we realize that we need to put a lot more thought into plastic: reducing our use, eliminating single-use applications, developing efficient recycling methods.

We know that plastics do not biodegrade. As they break down, they give off dangerous chemicals. They pile up in land-fills or they break up into miniscule pieces that blow into our oceans and are eaten by wildlife – often leading to the death of animals, and sometimes ingested by sea-life eaten by humans.

Think about it. What is one way that you can reduce your plastic impact? Stop using plastic wrap? Single-use bags or water bottles? Disposable plastic cutlery? Or shavers? Start with one item. Take it out of your world. And then once you’ve mastered life without that item – then on to removing the next one.

In 1971 – roughly the same era as the classic “The Graduate” – Oregon implemented the first bottle bill requiring a deposit.

All these years later, they have successfully addressed the problem of plastic bottles with their BottleDrop program. Learn how San Francisco – following Oregon’s lead – has established BottleBank to deal with single-use plastic bottles.


February 9, 2022

What “WOOD” you do?
With spring on the horizon (soon please!), you may be planning outdoor projects – perhaps a fence, a deck, or raised garden beds. In addition to the cost and functionality of your design, please consider the impact that the required materials have on your home environment, as well as the global effects. Treated wood requires chemicals that can leach into your soil – particularly important to know if you are building a vegetable garden, but also pertinent if you have young children or pets. There are now many alternatives to treated wood that are both sustainable and safe, such as materials made from recycled plastic, rice hulls, or galvanized metal.

To learn more about alternatives to treated wood, visit here.
For a guide to choosing the appropriate wood for building projects, visit here.


January 26, 2022

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
…and so much more when it comes to saving the earth! Currently in the preschool hallway there is a lovely art gallery. Right now interpretations of the daytime sky line the walls and, upon closer look, you’ll see scraps of tulle, yarn, and packing materials that give the sky it’s texture.

In December, a Hanukkiyah (pictured below) - made from old pool noodles and painted water bottles (the flames) was on display.

 

 

 

 

 

Judith Mont, art and nature teacher at the Goldsmith Early Education Center, has taught her students to see beauty in and create beauty from simple everyday objects. Her classroom is a warehouse of found and donated items - paper towel rolls, Styrofoam, bottles, caps, containers, egg cartons. The “Earth Art” curriculum developed by Judith is an effective way to engage the children in environmentalism and Judaism by using art as the tool and conservation as the mission. 

Donating unused supplies around your home not only frees up closet, drawer, and shelf space, it also gives these items a second life and keeps them from piling up in a landfill! If you would like to donate items for use by the preschool, you may drop off tile, wire, wood pieces, seashells, and rocks in the Collection Center in the shul coatroom. You will note that our Knitting Havurah often uses donated “old” yarn and that our service partner, Art with a Heart, creates original pieces using an array of random donated objects. Consider making your craft and art supply purchases through online swap/no buy groups or at a store like Scrap Creative Reuse Baltimore.


January 12, 2022

All Right Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close-Up
When Gloria Swanson recited that line in the 1950 movie Sunset Boulevard, she slowly approached the camera while center screen focused on her pearly whites. Thank goodness for decent dental hygiene!
 
Have you traveled down the toothpaste aisle lately? Indeed – there is much to choose from, whether it be different flavors, different purposes (cavities, whitening, sensitivity, etc.), gel, paste, or liquid, or a multitude of sizes (travel, single, or jumbo for the largest of families). As a concerned earthling, it’s important to take a close look at what’s inside – the chemicals that could affect your health or the health of wildlife once the toothpaste is washed down the drain; microbeads/microplastics; and all the packaging (including the tube itself) that surround the actual product (think: Zero Waste).
 
Earth911.com recently published this interesting article on toothpaste, including a little bit of history, specific chemicals to avoid, and some DIY options. If you'd like to chew on this subject a bit more, search for 'zero waste toothpaste' which will provide lots of pointers on what to look for and some possibilities that would work for you.

Smile!


December 29, 2021

Wishing You a Green 2022!
Since we began this column last March, we have touched on many different ways to make Earth a healthier planet. Some of the topics have included coffee grounds, bamboo sheets, sneakers, fragrance, and tire pressure – a random mix that shows you how impactful the everyday items in our life can be when it comes to the environment.

In just a few days, we begin a new year. We hope you’ll consider some actions you can take to help create a sustainable environment. “Green That Life” has published a list of 30 easy and effective ways to be green in the new year. We encourage you to pick an action that you haven’t taken before and resolve to make it a part of your daily life going forward.

Happy Green New Year!


December 8, 2021

Did Little Sara Grow Out of Her Car Seat?
If you have been looking for a place to donate that old car seat, then you also know it is not an easy task! In addition to car seats becoming obsolete once they have reached their expiration dates, they also are not to be used once they have been in any type of accident. Unfortunately, most agencies do not have the expertise required to determine whether or not a car seat has been in an accident, so they have a blanket policy of not accepting used car seats as donations. Meanwhile – car seats piling up in landfills is not exactly a good option in terms of protecting the Earth (which impacts our children and grandchildren’s future).

So what to do? Safe Convertible Car Seats has curated a list of options for donating or recycling used car seats. View the list here


November 24, 2021

Hanukkah Goes Green!
Well – at least we can try to turn it green by the actions we take. When you buy wrapping paper, opt for non-metallic, non-glitter – that way it can be recycled. Better yet – skip the wrapping paper and re-use some old sheet music or a comic book page, or maybe even a pretty re-usable tea towel. Here’s a thought – instead of purchasing a physical gift, how about purchasing an experience for your friend or family member: a visit to the aquarium, a concert at the BSO, or maybe even a class they would enjoy. It means less ‘stuff’ and a chance to make lifelong memories.

For lots of tips on going green for the holidays, please visit these two sites:

TERRACYCLE

THE RECYCLING PROJECT 


November 17, 2021

Monday, November 22, 12:00 p.m.
Going Green. How Jewish Environmentalism Is Informing Our Future
Fresh back from the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Jakir Manela, CEO of Hazon/Pearlstone, brings an insider’s view on how the international community is addressing this issue. Hear what was discussed, then learn about the plans for a potential Pearlstone/Hazon merger and how The Associated, in partnership with Pearlstone, has become a leader in sustainability and the Jewish environmental movement. You can register here*Zoom link will be provided after registering.


October 27, 2021

Do you Have Bamboo Sheets?
There was a time when the word bamboo conjured up images of Asian artwork, giant pandas, or maybe even a kitschy tiki cup. But times have changed and now bamboo shows up in our everyday lives as flooring, clothing, kitchen accessories, toilet paper, etc. Why is that? Bamboo is incredibly sustainable. A few of the many characteristics that make it so good for the earth: bamboo can grow to full size in just three to four months (in contrast to standard trees), once cut it regenerates from its own roots, it does not require pesticides and chemicals, and it is a huge storer or carbon.

Sustainable fabrics are those that come from eco-friendly sources, but there is much more to think about. Natural fibers inherently are bio-degradable, however, interestingly, there is a somewhat new technology of recycling plastics into yarns that can be used in fabric. Another consideration – although cotton is most definitely sustainable, it’s important to note that a huge amount of water is needed during its growth phase. Printing and dying procedures and ingredients are another factor. When you are shopping for new clothes, bags, fabrics, towels, sheets, pillows, and other accessories, look for companies that produce their product in environmentally-friendly ways.

This week, Chizuk Amuno’s Knitting Havurah received a donation of yarn for their projects. Included was the skein shown in the picture. Soy yarn – who knew? Our knitters and crochet-ers are continually lovingly creating blankets, hats, scarves, and more for those in need. We’re proud to say that quite often they are using yarns that have been donated from our member’s stashes – otherwise giving all those ‘extras’ a second life. Way to be sustainable!!


October 20, 2021

Don’t Be a Wishcycler?
We all want to recycle and help to preserve Mother Earth and so it is with best intentions that we deposit what we believe should be recyclable into our recycling bins. However, did you know that up to 30% of the items recycling processing centers receive is actually not recyclable and must be transported yet a second time to a landfill. To make matters worse – it is considered a contaminant and renders the rest of the items in that particular batch unrecyclable. This reduces the efficiency of the entire system and makes it more costly – eventually coming back to the end-consumer in higher priced recycled items.

We encourage you to become familiar with the items that are and aren’t accepted for recycling. Please follow these links for more information about recycling in:
Baltimore County: Single Stream Collection Information - Baltimore County (baltimorecountymd.gov)
Baltimore City: Recycling Services | Baltimore City Department of Public Works
Howard County: curbside-guide (howardcountymd.gov)

Did you know these are myths?
•    You should throw anything that you think might be recyclable into the recycling bin.
•    All plastic is recyclable.
•    Recycling begins and ends at the recycling bin.
Learn more about these myths here: Is all plastic recyclable? Common myths about recycling (today.com)


October 13, 2021

A Small Action Goes a Long Way – All the Way to the Ocean!
During our Day of Service on Sunday, over 30 volunteers performed the act of Shmirat Adamah – Caring for the Earth – by collecting litter from various locations: Western Run stream, Adopt-A-Road on Greenspring Avenue, Arlington Cemetery, and right here on Chizuk Amuno’s campus. At the cemetery, the effort filled nine large trash bags. In the county collections, we filled six bags for a total of 31 pounds. That result has been ‘donated’ to Sparrows Point High School as part of the Clean Green 15 Challenge – a Baltimore County program in which county schools compete for grants supporting environmental work. End results? Not only do our communities look nicer without debris, it is essential to keep the litter from making its way into our streams and waterways, eventually making its way into the bay and ocean, becoming a hazard to wildlife. Yashar Koah to all those who made these projects a success!

Find more information about the Baltimore County Clean Green 15 Challenge here.


September 1, 2021

Re-use, Recycle, Reduce – at the Chizuk Amuno Collection Center
Now that traffic in the building is increasing, we are happy to re-open our Collection Center in the Coatroom. Dropping off items at our Collection Center allows us to perform several mitzvot – such as Shmirat Adamah, caring for our environment; Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, Bikkur Holim, caring for those who are ill, and Kevod HaBeriyot, providing dignity to those in need – all while supporting projects in the building or agencies in our community. You will see six clearly labeled bins on the shelves in the coatroom and these are the items:
•    Tile, Wire, Wood Pieces, Seashells, Rocks which will be incorporated into art projects in our preschool
•    Soda/Soup Can Tabs to be recycled and sold with proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House Fuel Fund
•    Used Pens, Pencils, Markers which will be recycled by TerraCycle Zero Waste Solution
•    Used Eye Glasses & Hearing Aids to be donated to the Lion’s Club, which distributes them throughout the world
•    Full-Sized Bath Soap To be made into Soap S.A.C.K.s by our Knitting Havurah and given to homeless shelters for their clients
•    Sealed Toiletries for clients of homeless shelters
As long as our doors are open, so is our Collection Center. Thank you, in advance, for your contributions.


August 25, 2021

That Good Old Cup O’ Joe… And Then What?
Yep! You’ve gotten that coffee into your system and you’re feeling more awake and ironically more relaxed. You’re ready to face the day. According to Exclusive:Multibriefs.com, there are another 150 million Americans who enjoy that same routine every day – actually averaging three times a day! That makes for an awful lot of coffee grounds! After we’ve downed our daily dose, how can we be more responsible earthlings and keep all those grounds out of our trash? Did you know there are many beneficial uses for used coffee grounds? They are helpful in our gardens, on our skin, and our households. For a list of practical and creative ways to re-use coffee grounds, visit here.


August 18, 2021

Events with Intent
In 2012, under the umbrella of the Maryland Chapter of the American Jewish Congress, representatives from several Jewish organizations in the Baltimore community joined together to create the Baltimore Green & Just Celebrations Guide. It was intended to be a handbook for local Jews to use while planning weddings, b’nei mitzvah, and any other s’mahot. It encourages and enables readers to make choices that are most fair and beneficial to both humans and the earth. Some suggestions were to source your flowers locally, minimize printed materials for your event, or purchase your supplies from non-profits that do important work.

While you are planning an upcoming simhah, please be sure to read through the booklet as well as the recently created update and incorporate some of the guidelines into your event. A pdf of the original booklet can be found here and the update here. Although we encourage saving paper, if you would prefer a hard copy of the booklet and update, you can get them from Ellen Shevrin in Chizuk Amuno’s front office.


August 11, 2021

Curbing Your Runoff 
Several years ago, Chizuk Amuno installed a bioretention garden in an area that was affectionately referred to as “Lake Chizzie.” On the south side of the building, between the driveway and the parking lot, there are two large trenches that serve as a bioretention garden. Water run-off from the parking lot is captured in these gardens and then through a very sophisticated filtering and drainage system, the water flows to another location on our campus where it safely percolates through the soil into the ground rather than into the storm drain system. The environmental benefit is phenomenal, as it keeps all types of pollution that could be on the parking lot (trash, chemicals, soil, etc.) from draining into the bay – thus helping to reduce damage from the runoff.  

There are steps you can take at your home to help minimize runoff into the storm drain system. For example – when it’s time to replace a cracked concrete walkway, consider using pervious surfaces. Also, planting trees, flowers, and shrubs helps to anchor loose soil, lessening the likelihood of it being washed away with the rain. 

For more information on Runoff Pollution, please read this article offered by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  


August 4, 2021

Composting - The Ultimate Recycling Process
Now that it's August, many of us are removing the dried leaves and stems from our gardens. How about putting them to good use! The number of people composting is increasing steadily – and for many good reasons. Less waste will be going to dumps and landfills. Less climate-change-inducing methane gas will be generated. Nutrient-rich soil will be created for use in your own yard and gardens.

These links will give you more information about the benefits of composting, how to get started, and lists of resources to help ensure success:

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Maryland Department of the Environment

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


July 28, 2021

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…
What do you do with your sneakers when you’re done with them? There are other options beyond the trash. The option most of us know about is to donate them to somebody who will give them a second life. And that’s an awesome thing to do. But what about shoes that no longer have any life left in them? The Nike Grind program takes athletic shoes and transforms them into futuristic surfaces being used in sports facilities, offices, and homes, as well as other products – including their own manufactured shoes. Since 1992, they have ground up over 130 million pounds of rubber, foam, leather, and textiles. And that’s 130 million pounds that isn’t ending up in landfills! Participation is easy – just drop your athletic shoes at any participating Nike retail store. To learn more about this program, visit: https://www.nikegrind.com/about/


July 14, 2021

GPGP
Remember those letters. They stand for Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in THE WORLD and its weight is equivalent to that of 500 jumbo jets. How did it get there? Debris makes its way to the ocean mainly from rivers. Then prevailing currents carry the debris to these massive collections in our oceans. This is where you come in – how can you help? Firstly – reduce your use of plastic products as much as possible. Next – let’s cut out debris making its way into our streams, creeks, rivers, and bay. That means get it off the street before the wind blows it out of sight or before it reaches the storm drain. To learn more about debris in our oceans, please visit https://theoceancleanup.com/

The Pikesville Owings Mills Chamber of Commerce has organized a campaign called Let’s Pick Up Pikesville. This is a monthly effort to attack the streets and remove debris from downtown Pikesville. We encourage you to get out there and help to make our world clean and safe.

 


July 7, 2021

Just Say NO!
That’s what Prince George’s County did one year ago this week when they put into law their ban on plastic straws. Plastic straws are not easily recyclable, nor are they compostable, so they end up in our landfills and floating in trash islands in the oceans, or even worse – in the stomachs of marine wildlife. So what are our options? First choice – at restaurants, just decline when the server asks. And be sure to hand the paper-wrapped straws right back to your server if they are placed on your table. Perhaps you enjoy or require the use of a straw. In that case, please consider investing in re-usable straws made from rigid plastic, silicone, bamboo, glass, or metal. Most can be put in the dishwasher and some come with their own cleaning brush. Also, paper straws – although not ideal – can be put in your compost bin.

To learn more about the problem with plastic straws, please refer to this article, https://earth911.com/food-beverage/recycling-mystery-plastic-straws/, published by earth911.com.


June 30, 2021

Enjoying the Heat Much?
How are you coping with the 90+ degree temperatures we’re having this week? Climate change is real and there are simple things you can do to help slow it down. First – weatherize. Applying some caulk to seal drafts around windows and doors helps. Not only will it keep your home more insulated from extreme temperatures, you will save on the energy needed (and $$$) to cool or heat it. Second – when it is time to replace appliances – make sure they are energy efficient. Pay attention to their Energy Star rating. Third – consider investing in renewable energy. If installing a wind, solar, hydro, or geothermal system is not an option for you, then purchase your electricity from a supplier that produces its power from sustainable sources.

For more ideas on how you can help to combat climate change, please visit: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-stop-global-warming

To learn about the steps Baltimore County is taking to address this issue, please visit: Sustainability Initiatives - Baltimore County (baltimorecountymd.gov)


June 23, 2021

Baltimore's Plastic Bag Ban to be Delayed until July 9
You may have heard it in the news this past week – it’s the second time the ban has been postponed. In the meantime, what can we do about it? One doesn’t have to wait for a legal decree in order to take action. Most of us have a bag or basket full of re-usable bags that we have received as party swag, event commemoration, commercial marketing, etc. Get them out of your closet and into the back seat of your car, a drawer at work, or even your backpack. Make it a habit to grab these bags before entering the grocery store, the department store, the hardware store – you name it. It is a very simple and super green action you can take and make a HUGE difference. When you forgot to bring your re-usable bag, if you’re purchasing only a small item, just mention to the cashier, “no bag necessary – I’m helping to save the Earth.”

To read what Trash Free Maryland has to say about the continued environmental damage that comes with the delay, please visit this website. The pic below depicts some of the many re-usable bags that have been issued under the Chizuk Amuno umbrella. We hope they are already being used to make change.


June 16, 2021


June 2, 2021

Are the Cicadas Bugging You?
The constant chirping may be driving you mad and have you thinking about getting rid of insects once and for all. But don’t do it! The use of insecticides and pesticides contaminates our ecosystem and eliminates or severely diminishes the benefits of our multi-legged friends, such as helping to break down dead plants, pollinate plants, and serve as food for other species. In fact, the use of these chemicals in both the residential and agricultural arenas has a profound effect on the food chain. Do you like honey, nuts, and fruit? Then you definitely want to make sure we are taking care of our bee population.

As for those insects that are considered non-beneficial – check out this article entitled Eco-friendly Pest Control here.

 

May 26, 2021

Keeping the Bay Healthy
Chizuk Amuno has had a long-standing relationship with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC). They were one of the funders and helped us develop our stormwater-retention installation (formerly known as Lake Chizzie) as well as our rain garden at the preschool entrance. Since then, they have supported us through numerous projects, such as a shoreline clean-up and solar power info session. As a member of their One Water Partnership, Chizuk Amuno has had the opportunity to work with other synagogues and churches as stewards of the environment. IPC aims to ignite the power of faith communities by working together to protect and restore our shared watershed.

How You Can Help
Chizuk Amuno is sending a team to Faithful Green Leader Training being provided by Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. There will be three 90-minute Zoom sessions at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, June 10, 17, and 24. The training is free, will be a lot of fun, and will teach you skills for becoming an effective leader. The sessions will empower you to help Chizuk Amuno take meaningful action when it comes to our environment. Won’t you become part of our team? You can register at https://www.interfaithchesapeake.org/events. Questions can be directed to Bonnie@InterfaithChesapeake.org- or 443-799-0349.

To learn more about environmental initiatives at Chizuk Amuno, contribute to this Guardians of the Earth column, or volunteer your time, please be in touch with Anita King, aak527@gmail.com or 410-356-6721.


May 19, 2021

Fragrance and the Ozone
Did you know that many fragrances are actually air pollutants?! That’s right! We’re talking about perfume, lotions, paint, that ‘new car’ smell everybody notices, and even air fresheners. Many fragrances are made up of chemicals that emit volatile organic compounds, which can have a negative impact on indoor and outdoor air, thus affecting our health. Link to this article, Why Scent-Free Makes Sense, for more details.

The EPA has developed a program called Safer Choice, which is intended to help consumers find cleaning products that are safer for humans and the environment. Their criteria include both the ingredients of the product as well as the packaging. They have even developed a fragrance-free standard. The next time you purchase cleaning products, look for the Safer Choice logo. To view the logo and learn more about the Safer Choice program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice.


May 12, 2021

How Trees Help our Climate
One tree can sequester (or take in) more than one ton of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. Planting trees and avoiding deforestation are key measures in reducing the human impact on global climate change.

Here are 10 proven ways that trees make a big difference. Trees…
1. improve air quality.
2. improve water quality and reduce flooding and erosion.
3. temper climate.
4. conserve energy.
5. are good for the economy.
6. create habitat for plants and animals.
7. improve health.
8. reduce crime.
9. reduce noise pollution and can serve as screens.
10. promote community.

The National Wildlife Federation has developed the Trees for Wildlife™ program. It is designed to help you guide children and teens through activities that will deepen their understanding of how trees make a difference in their lives and in the world. For more details about this initiative, please visit: https://www.nwf.org/Home/Trees-for-Wildlife/About


May 5, 2021

Fill Those Car Tires – Save $$$ and Our Environment
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only one in five cars has the right amount of air in its tires. At worst, driving around with under-inflated tires is dangerous, potentially leading to a flat tire, a blowout, or the tread coming off, which can lead to a crash. But too little air in your tires isn’t only dangerous, it can also make an impact on the environment. Poor tire pressure can mean a higher rate of emissions, as well as lower fuel efficiency. According to Earthday.org, for each gallon of gas you save you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by 20 pounds. This is a bonus for your wallet, too. According to the NHTSA, you’ll save as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel by keeping them at the right pressure level.

For more information about the potential savings when adhering to proper tire pressures, visit: Tree Hugger.com.


April 28, 2021

A Separate Bin for Plastic Bags
Did you know? If you throw plastic bags into your curbside recycling – it contaminates the entire bin-full. Instead of being recycled, that entire load has to go to a landfill. In fact, 26% of all waste intended for recycling, ends up in land fills specifically for this reason. Please take your clean, dry, empty plastic bags to Wegmans or Giant, where they actually do recycle them. For example, Wegmans plastic bags contain 40% post-consumer recycled content, all of which is generated by customers returning their plastic bags to the store. That means we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and virgin plastic.

 

For a list of other items that should not be put in your curbside recycling, view this list compiled by Reader’s Digest.


April 21, 2021

Earth Day is Tomorrow!
Judaism has provided ways to appreciate the world around us. Perhaps you have heard there is a blessing when you see a rainbow or when you hear thunder. But did you know there is a blessing for when you see something beautiful? In addition to the imperative to take care of the earth, we are also compelled to recognize and enjoy all the earth gives us. Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day. Be sure to get outside and focus on natural wonders. When you see a tender bud growing out of a branch or stem, hear a bird chirping her morning song, or feel the wind caressing your face, remember to say this b’rukhah:
Barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam shekakha lo baolamo.
Blessed are you, our God, King of the Universe, who has such beautiful things in His universe.


April 14, 2021

Join Us for These Earth Day Activities!
Chizuk Amuno Campus Clean-Up and Recycle Center
Sunday, April 25, 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
This is a great opportunity for members of all ages to help maintain the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay while maintaining the beauty of Chizuk Amuno’s campus. We will be collecting debris that has settled on our grounds as well as along Stevenson Road, keeping it from making its way into our water stream. Then, participants will have the opportunity to sort everything into separate bins to be recycled, rather than ending up in a land-fill. To participate as a debris-collector or to man our ‘recycling center’ – please be in touch with Anita King, aak527@gmail.com.

Earth Water Woman
Thursday, April 22, 7 – 9 p.m.
For several years, Chizuk Amuno has benefited from the support of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. This year, IPC is sponsoring this film presentation, followed by a celebration of congregational efforts to heal their local watersheds and the Bay! The documentary Earth Water Woman urges viewers everywhere to examine their relationship to their watershed. We encourage you to register here: https://www.interfaithchesapeake.org/one_water_partnership_earth_day_event and attend this inspiring event. (FYI – the documentary is available to watch any time up to and including the event.)


April 7, 2021

Plogging
According to earthday.org, plogging is the act of picking up litter while jogging. Exercise and Shmirat Adamah (protecting our earth) – all at the same time!

April brings us Earth Day, which was established on April 22, 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in order to help bring awareness to environmental issues and inspire action to keep the earth healthy. In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilizing millions of people around the world to take earth-friendly actions. Here is a simple earth-friendly action you can take: Bring re-usable bags with you when you shop. This saves on the plastic bags usually supplied at stores, which generally are not bio-degradable. If you forget to bring your own bags with you, forego the store plastic bag for small purchases; for larger purchases – hold on to those plastic bags for the next time you visit a retailer that offers recycling for their plastic bags.

To learn about the mission of earthday.org, the work they do, stories about prior projects, and upcoming events, please visit their website.


March 31, 2021

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, Water Costs are Soaring
As we enter our rainy season, conserving water may be the last thing on your mind. However, It’s important to know that using water-saving techniques can save you money and divert less water from our rivers, bays, and estuaries, which helps keep the environment healthy. It can also reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water.

Did you know that by turning the water off while brushing your teeth, you can save up to eight gallons of water per day? That’s nearly 3,000 gallons per year! There are many ways to conserve water in and around your home on a daily basis – ranging from installing low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets, to simply using full loads in your washing machine and turning off the faucet while washing your dishes until you’re ready to rinse.

Visit this website for imaginative ways you can save water.


March 24, 2021

Producing and using electricity more efficiently reduces both the amount of fuel needed to generate electricity and the amount of greenhouse gasses and other air pollution emitted as a result. By doing so, local air pollution is reduced as well as the negative effect on climate change. One simple way to work toward this goal is to install LED lightbulbs throughout your home. LED lightbulbs have longer lifespans, are extra durable, safer, dimmable, energy-efficient, and produce less heat. By switching to LED, you will be helping our environment AND you will also save on your electricity bill.

As Pesah approaches, we share this Omer calendar developed by Interfaith Power & Light of DC, MD, and Northern VA to address environmental issues. We hope that you will download, print, and use it as a daily guide for both appreciating the abundance in our natural world, and in journeying together to responsibility for our damaged climate. Hag Sameah!


March 17, 2021

Family Pollution Police
It is our responsibility to protect and preserve that which takes care of us. Why not promote family time in the process? Especially with the official arrival of spring this weekend and warmer weather to come.

What You’ll Need:

  • Biodegradable/compostable garbage bags
  • Biodegradable or reusable gloves or a reach extender for each family member
  • Bikes, skateboards, or just a good pair of shoes

What You’ll Do:
Get moving! As a family, travel around your neighborhood or to gnearby parks picking up all the trash you can find. Then, of course, dispose of the trash properly! (Some of it may be recyclable.)

For more ideas on being an environmentally-friendly family, visit this site: https://www.parentscanada.com/family-life/15-fun-and-practical-ways-to-be-an-environmental-family/


March 10, 2021
Instilling an awareness of caring for the earth is an integral part of the curriculum in many different ways in all of our schools. For example, did you know that Krieger Schechter Day School is a certified Maryland Green School? In June 2020, KSDS was awarded the Maryland Green School title through MAEOE (Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education). This is a title shared by 655 other Maryland schools. Maryland Green Schools encourage sustainability and foster environmental literacy among all members of the school. They encourage students, faculty, and staff to make changes in their school community to reduce negative environmental impact. To learn more about the projects that MAEOE supports and volunteer opportunities, follow this link: https://www.maeoe.org/

There are many simple and economic actions you can take to turn your home into a green home. We encourage you to make your own cleaning products (dish soap, laundry detergent, window cleaner, toilet cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner)? Follow this link for easy to follow directions: https://thegreenparent.co.uk/articles/read/make-your-own-cleaning-products

 

Tue, October 4 2022 9 Tishrei 5783