By Kate Harrison, Green Bar Mitzvahs
Protecting the earth has always been a Jewish value:
God placed the human in the garden of Eden to serve and keep it.
Here are five ways to make your Bar or Bat Mitzvah eco-friendly:
1. Invitations: Come to My Green Bar Mitzvah!
Instead of buying glossy-coated Bat Mitzvah invitations that can't be easily recycled, pick invitations made from post-consumer waste (PCW) or recycled cotton. Electronic Bar and Bat Mitzvah invitations are another green option because they eliminate waste entirely. A number of Web sites now offer Jewish-themed animated cards as well as online RSVP tracking.
2. Decorations and Favors: Style Your Bar Mitzvah Party
Whenever possible, skip one-time-use disposable items like balloons, streamers, and plastic tablecloths for your Bat Mitzvah party. Instead opt for items that can be reused or that are made from sustainable materials. If you want to use candles, pick candles made from soy or palm oil instead of non-renewable petroleum to lessen their environmental impact. Avoid giving plastic toys and trinkets as favors--give guests favors they can use. Popular green favors include tree seedlings, organic or fair trade chocolates, and donations to charity.
Many Bar Mitzvah families decorate the bimah and reception tables with cut flowers, but most of the flowers available in the United States are grown overseas using harsh chemical pesticides. A great way to decrease the carbon footprint of your event while protecting workers and the environment is to buy locally grown organic flowers. Search localharvest.org for a list of growers in your area and consult your florist about local, seasonal options. Ask your florist if he or she can recycle the flowers by donating them to a hospital or charity after your Bar Mitzvah. Potted plants are another great choice because they are reusable and make nice gifts for friends and family to take home at the end of the night. Plus, they fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
4. Food: My Organic Bar Mitzvah
Whether you are cooking yourself or having your Bat Mitzvah catered, try to include seasonal organic ingredients as much as possible. Many companies now offer kosher organic meat and poultry; you can find organic fruits, vegetables and baking supplies at most supermarkets. Choosing organic food grown in a sustainable manner not only reduces your impact on the earth, but also ensures the freshest, most delicious flavors. Don't forget to ask your caterer about composting and recycling options, and see if leftovers can be donated to a charity like Mazon, a Jewish organization that provides food for the hungry.
Before your Bar Mitzvah, let your friends and family know what you want by registering for gifts so you don't end up with things you will never use. Try to pick eco-friendly items made from sustainable, recycled, organic, or natural materials. When looking for Judaica, select Bat Mitzvah gifts from Israeli artists or those made from renewable resources.