Environmental Action Team

Environmental Action Team (EAT)

It started with a thought-provoking meeting back in October 2019 “Climate Change is a Jewish Issue.”

A good turnout and a lively discussion produced several proposed actions one of which, joining EcoSynagogue, was prioritised for 2020. EcoSynagogue (www.ecosynagogue.org) is designed to provide a practical and simple road map towards a net zero carbon future. This unique initiative spans the whole Jewish community with religious leadership from four denominations of Judaism. Rabbi Mark is the Reform Judaism representative on the Steering Group.

EcoSynagogue invites each participating synagogue to an online Environmental Audit which is a comprehensive survey of how we engage with the environment in our places of worship. The audit helps us to assess how we are doing and ways in which we can improve. The score will lead to a Bronze, Silver and ultimately Gold EcoSynagogue Award.

In May EHRS achieved a Bronze Award which we received at a special event held in Kew Gardens in July.

We plan to create a number of activities this year to bring environmental action into EHRS life. Hopefully, some of the excellent ideas first mooted back in 2019 will also come to fruition.

Please click here for our event schedule for 2023

 

EHRS Eco Tips

In urban areas, where space is at a premium, it has become the norm to pave over a front garden and use it as a car parking space. However, there is a downside to this practice because without green spaces to soak it up, rainwater has nowhere to go. It is no coincidence that we have seen an increase in urban flooding with drains unable to cope with the deluge. Greenery helps to reduce the run off by retaining some of the rainfall and slowing the water reaching the ground.
If there is room, plant a shrub like Cotoneaster, Forsythia or Pyracantha or better still a hedge with a large surface area like Hawthorn. Even a few outdoor potted plants can help, especially plants with large flat leaves. You can often get the pots free on Freecycle. For maximum planet saving effect, add in some bee friendly plants.

Thinking about Tu B’Shevat, it is not just trees that have a part to play in helping our planet survive. Shrubs and hedges can also help to trap air pollution. This tip comes from the EcoSynagogue website:
Plants with small ovate, rough, hairy or scaly leaves trap small dust-like particles, the so-called airborne particulate pollution. This is either washed to the ground by rain or falls off with old leaves. Grow large and dense hedges to get the maximum surface area on which to trap the pollution, aim for at least 1.5m (5ft) high and 1m (3⅓ft) deep. In theory, one plant grown to the dimensions mentioned can capture 60 diesel cars’ worth of pollution each year. This will vary in real life, but demonstrates the pollution-capturing potential of plants and hedges. Some good examples include Cotoneasters, Eleaganus, Common Yew and Western Red Cedar.

Trees help to clean the air we breathe and filter the water we drink. They improve soil and water conservation, store carbon, regulate temperature extremes and improve the land’s capacity to adapt to climate change. As if that wasn’t reason enough to plant a tree, they also provide habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and the key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Forests provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people. The world needs trillions of trees! On 5 February we celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the new year of the trees, and a time when we traditionally plant trees. JTree is a separate but partnership project of EcoSynagogue enabling communities, like EHRS, who use their Environmental Audit, to improve their environmental credentials by planting the right trees in the right places in the right way. A positive, collective, international Jewish response to the Climate Crisis.

As tempting as it may be to hit the sales and treat yourself to a bargain, ask yourself if you really need to buy more stuff. If you do really need a particular item why not check and see if you can get a pre-loved one from sites like freecycle.org, gumtree.com and craigslist.org. Need a new outfit? Dive into your local charity shop. Many of them e.g. Oxfam and Sue Ryder also have an online presence to give you a wider choice. When it comes to a special occasion, take a tip from the A listers and rent it. But if it has to be new for you, at least look out for certifications of sustainability and ethical work practices. The Good On You app will help you to discover ethical brands & see how your favourites measure up.