Everybody loves Hanukkah; the festival of lights that comes but once a year! Every December, we look forward to this joy-filled excuse to stuff our faces with fried potatoes, sour cream, and apple sauce, but eight days of burning candles, giving gifts, and frying pancakes could lead to some seriously wasteful behavior. Not to worry, all you eco Hanukkah lovers—there are plenty of ways that you can green up this year’s holiday celebration, and here are five smart tips to get you started!
1. Use Earth Friendly Menorahs, Dreidels and other Hanukkah Goodies
Since Hanukkah is all about tradition, the most eco-savvy way to celebrate is to use things that have been passed down from family or friends. If you still find yourself without the necessary seasonal gear, start your own tradition and buy something. From menorahs made from old pipes to dreidels made of reclaimed wood, there are some great eco alternatives out there.
2. Keep a Green Kitchen
Dispose of Cooking Grease Properly Potato pancakes, also known as latkes, are a special treat that just about everyone can enjoy. The only problem with these delicious morsels is the recipe calls for large amounts of oil for frying, and disposing of used cooking oil in an eco friendly way can be a little tricky. This year put used cooking oil in an old container and find out about disposal services in your local area. For those of you who compost, you can combine the oil with some sawdust or lawn clippings, throw in some fertilizer and lime, and put it in the compost bin. All household oils are biodegradable.
Cook a meal with locally sourced food Instead of picking up groceries from chain stores, visit your local farmers market instead. Get to know the people working there and find out what’s in season. This is a great way to explore new recipes for your holiday table while supporting local farmers and learning more about food and where it comes from. Check out localharvest.org for sustainable food sources in your area.
Compost scraps and leftovers One of the easiest ways to reduce garbage and excessive waste is to start composting. There several ways to compost, from backyard and indoor composting systems to neighborhood compost drop-off sites. With all of the extra drinking and eating going on, the holiday season is a great time to start.
3. Use Beeswax Candles
Even though candles made in America no longer have wicks containing lead, many of the candles bought and sold for Hanukkah are made in Israel and Asia , and their lead content is unclear. Instead, try using beeswax candles: they burn cleanly, and use no materials derived from petroleum.
4. Give Green Gifts
Exchanging presents is one of the best parts of celebrating Hanukkah. This year ,start a new tradition by encouraging everybody to give gifts that are thoughtful and eco-friendly. One of the best ways for us to heal the earth is by planting a tree. This is a great gift any time of year, but you can make it special for Hanukkah by planting a tree in Isreal. There are several organizations that make this much easier then it sounds. For example, for $18 The Jewish National Fund will plant a tree in the location of your choice and send a special certificate to the recipient with your own personal message. For other great green gift ideas check out our extensive Green Holiday Gift Guide.
5. Celebrate and Heal the Earth
The Hanukkah miracle (in which one day’s oil lasted for eight days) is also an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on on our own energy use. Join Rabbis Arthur Waskow and Jeff Sultar from the Shalom Center in Philidalphia in their the Green Menorah campaign. “We invite people to light their menorah each evening and dedicate yourself to making the changes in your life that will allow our limited sources of energy to last for as long as they’re needed, and with minimal impact on our climate,” said Rabbi Wasko.
HAPPY HANUKKAH, EVERYONE!