Have you started preparing your eco-friendly Hanukkah traditions yet? No doubt you are thinking about polishing your menorah, dusting the dreidels and starting the search for the perfect presents.
However, how will you polish that menorah? Did you keep the dreidels from last year and what types of presents will you buy? These are all things which need to be taken into consideration if you want this holiday season to be a sustainable one.
My household Hanukkah traditions usually consists of a nightly Menorah lighting and present giving, so that each family member receives eight presents in total. We might also go to a public Menorah lighting and attend or hold our own Hanukkah party during the 8 day festival. We don't put up much in the way of decorations or exchange cards, but every family is different with their own Hanukkah traditions over decorations, food, present giving and so on.
There are a few basics though that are generally common to all and I have listed some eco-friendly ways to celebrate the holiday below which cover those basics:
Often a Menorah will be kept for a lifetime and may be handed down through the generations. This is kind to the environment, as they are not purchased very often and rarely go to waste. However, if for whatever reason you don't have a Menorah and you are in the market for one (or would like to give one as a present), consider these options before going and buying a new one:
If you are shining one up that you already own, consider using an eco-friendly alternative to silver polish, such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) or other all-natural household cleaning products.
Although they look very nice, burning candles is not great for the environment, so take a look at these ways to limit your impact on the environment:
If you have young children (or adults in the family that are really big kids), then dreidels can be lots of fun. If you are in the market for a dreidel or several this year then try to buy or make ones that will last for years and avoid plastic ones wherever possible.
At any Jewish festival, it is all about the food and Hanukkah is no exception. It is the time of year to have fried food and if you are doing a lot of frying then make sure you:
If the doughnuts or latkes are shop bought and you are likely to have leftovers, you can still freeze them to make sure there is no waste.
You might also find more ways to create a sustainable holiday meal in the Thanksgiving article here.
Secondhand, pre-loved, vintage or antique presents are all good eco-friendly options for those on a budget.
If you aren't on a budget, then luxurious organic clothing, bath products and organic food are always good options - although check the level of packaging and have a close look at the labelling to determine how eco-friendly the product actually is.
Read more about eco-friendly gift giving here.
Both before and after your Hanukkah traditions, wrapping paper is a consideration. Although it is paper and can be recycled there is a carbon cost involved in producing and recycling it.
Instead of wrapping presents you could just present them nicely and tie a re-usable ribbon around them. Children however may find this disappointing so instead you could try the following:
Get your children to go on a treasure hunt to find their presents. Hide the present(s) somewhere around the house and provide clues to help them find it. Again, put a re-usable ribbon around each present (you could colour code them if you have more than one child).
To create more eco-friendly Hanukkah traditions, consider using your own child's artwork as wrapping paper. And keep any wrapping paper you get given and if you put it under a cloth and iron it, it will look as good as new. Use that wrapping paper to cover re-usable boxes and save for packaging presents next time.
My family tend not to give or receive Hanukkah cards, however we always give thank you cards. This year think about alternatives, such as e-cards or instead of spending the money on a card, make a charitable donation in the person's name instead. The charity will send them an acknowledgement and depending on the charity you may be able to include a personal message.
If you do choose to send cards, search out eco-friendly cards made with plant-based inks, recyclable paper, etc. Choose smaller cards over larger ones. Or make your own with eco-friendly supplies.
This article was written by Zoe Morrison, who is the author of www.ecothriftyliving.com. Check it out if you are interested in slashing the budget but not your principles!
Creating eco-friendly Hanukkah traditions is to create a life worth sustaining. And there is so much more you can do too!
When you're ready for a few more steps check out the articles below.
Whatever step you take, remember to have fun!
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