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Aytzim and others offer many environmental tips for how together we can help build a more sustainable world. But each of these actions can have vastly different scales of impact. For example, recycling is good, planting your own garden is good, but neither is nearly as impactful in addressing climate change as much as going solar. So how can you prioritize your environmental actions? In the Talmud, Pirkei Avot, ethics of our ancestors, teaches us that the world rests on three things: Torah, service, and kindness (Pirkei Avot 1:2). While proverbially standing on one foot — Jewish shorthand for quickly providing the basis of a complex subject (Shabbat 31a) — the following are three actions for making a positive environmental difference in the world:


Torah: Educate yourself and your community

Pirkei Avot also teaches us that action is incomplete without education, and education is incomplete without action (Pirket Avot 2:2). We need to be doing both if we are to properly attempt the task. Take the time to educate yourself and your community about environmentalism and EcoJudaism. Check out the 1000-plus resources hosted at Jewcology.org. Host Jewish-environmental speakers in your community. Start a Jewish-environmental book club. (Have you seen the volume of books on Jewish environmentalism?) Learn as a prelude for action.

Service: Vote and hold government accountable

The climate crisis demands urgent action that is beyond the individual scale. Extend your influence beyond your individual actions by voting for environmentally minded politicians. And once they are in office, hold them accountable by reading about the green actions they are (or are not) taking, and let them know that you want environmentally sustainable policy. And support and volunteer with environmental organizations that help educate and organize citizens for environmental advocacy and action.

Kindness: Eat a plant-based diet

This may be hard for meat lovers to swallow, but there may be no bigger single way to address climate change than through kindness to our fellow animals. The production and consumption of meat is estimated to be among the largest, if not the single largest, contributors of greenhouse gases causing climate change. Other benefits of adopting a plant-based diet include reducing pressures on water supply, land use and energy demand — and, of course, being kinder to our fellow animals, since the most humane form of slaughter is not slaughtering at all.


None of this means that you should not do other environmental actions — indeed, it is worth doing as many environmental actions as you can, as the planet is our home, and protecting it simply conserves our own existence. We breathe its air; we drink its water; we eat from its earth. Since we are a part of nature, harming nature also harms us humans. Continue recycling and gardening. But also ground yourself in Torah (education), service (voting and advocacy) and kindness (plant-based diets).


— David Krantz, president and chairperson of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism

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