With the recent dire news about the delicate balance of our planet’s ecosystem and the human impact upon it, many of us (including me) are in a bit of a panic. I keep looking at my children, ages 10 and 16, and wondering if I have brought them into a doomed world. If you are like me, you feel like you have to do something… anything… to start helping this planet, even if it seems like a small gesture. We all already know we can buy eco-bulbs, install solar panels, and drive hybrid or electric cars to do our part. And perhaps the most important thing we can do is vote for representatives who care about the environment as much as we do (An aside — I know some say the verdict is still out about global warming, but knowing somewhere between 97-99% of scientists agree we are to blame for the earth’s new moody nature, disagreeing is kind of like giving the finger to education, knowledge, and research, isn’t it? So, let’s skip that argument and make sure that no matter how we feel about other issues, we vote for our children having a planet to live on, okay? — Back to our regularly scheduled blog…). However, no matter who wins the many elections around the world this year or in the future, or whether or not we can afford solar panels or a new fuel-efficient car, we can all try something very ancient and yet, for many of us, very, very new, that can help save the world right NOW. It won’t cost a thing. In fact, it will save you money. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
In the Judeo-Christian creation story, God “manipulates” (that’s my word) the elements for six days to create everything on the planet… water, sky, land, moon, sun, stars, plants, animals and humans. And for one day, God leaves everything alone. God stops changing things. It says that God rests, but does God need a rest or does God know the earth needs a rest? We have an environmental lesson here, and we don’t need to believe in any God or book or religion to catch it. In fact, forget about the God part. Let’s talk science. What would the scientifically proven, number-crunching impact be on this planet if every single human could (and would if they could) simply leave the earth alone for one day – one, 24-hour period – each week? Now I know many of us work nearly every day, and any day “off” is not so off and is filled with errands, sports and other activities for the kids, etc. But what if we could clear the decks for just one day? And if not one day, maybe 12 hours? That’s not so hard if we include our sleeping time! Can we commit to an Eco-Shabbat?
Here are the rules of Eco-Shabbat…
For a designated amount of time (24 hours in a perfect world, but fewer if that is all we can do) we all take a Sabbath. Now this Shabbat doesn’t have to follow any traditional Jewish (or other) rules. We can turn off the lights when we go to bed (that’s better for the earth not worse!) and walk to the farmer’s market and use money (buying locally without use of a car must be okay!). Plus, it’s fine to “manipulate” the earth if it helps it, like planting a garden or a tree. But in the spirit of the creation story, for that designated time, we do minimal to no harm to the planet. What does this mean? It means for one day:
- Put down that phone and turn off Netflix! — The average home uses approximately 2.5 kWh per day. If the TV is off, the phones and tablets don’t need charging, the air conditioning only used for extreme heat, and the eco bulbs are only on when needed, we can take a nice chunk out of that usage.
- Skip the shower! — Yes, still wash your hands and flush the toilet! But a 15 minute shower uses 32 gallons of water. Maybe skip the shower for today or take a really, really short one. Plus the energy used to heat the water will hike up the electric or gas usage. Oh, and while we are at it, put on a sweater and save some of the energy used for heating too.
- Walk, bike or take public transit instead of driving! — The average car gives off 20 pounds of CO2 each day. Maybe we can find another way to get where we want/need to go?
- Go vegetarian! — Now, I am NOT a vegetarian, so know this one truly comes from the heart and not part of any animal right agenda. But eating vegan for one day can do more for the earth than everything above combined. Did you know that eating no animal products for one day is equivalent to taking your car off the road for 5 WEEKS?? So maybe it’s time to at least greatly limit our intake of meat, dairy, and eggs, and for our eco-Shabbat, pass the quinoa.
It’s time to take matters into our own hands. We can’t wait and shouldn’t wait to save our planet. Pick a day… pick half a day. Let’s do this, and let’s do it together! Let’s give the planet and us a break. Let’s gather in each other’s homes and entertain and eat and inspire each other in ways that allow us to leave mother earth alone. She needs a Sabbath more than anyone.