With reports of this past month being the hottest August since recordings began, it’s important to take a moment to think of how we are treating the environment and the world around us.
There is a story that comes from the Mishnah, part of the Hebrew oral Torah. There is a man sitting on his own land throwing rocks onto public ground. A pious scholar walks by and says, “Fool, why do you throw rocks from land that is not your land into your own land?” The guy laughs at him and says, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” A few days later, he has to go on to the public land and he trips onto his own rocks. He says, “How did the pious scholar know?”
Basically, your own property can come and go, but public land is yours. You own it. It is yours permanently so we have a duty to take care of it. We all have a part in maintaining what is collectively ours.
This summer, I spent three weeks at a JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor Food and Environmental Education) Fellowship training. The experience was eye-opening. It was a unique opportunity to connect to nature and the environment, gain deep perspective on the impact we have on earth and our responsibility to be good caretakers. Among many things, the JOFEE Fellowship taught me how to inspire others to ask questions by fostering curiosity in them.
You can tell someone they have to change their thinking, but you’re likely to be met with resistance. A much more effective strategy toward creating change is to show someone how their actions affect their surroundings and ignite that curiosity.
Five Simple Steps for A Healthier Earth
- Use a reusable water bottle and send your kids to school with one.
- Use the compost and recycle bins when you throw away your waste.
- Be aware of where your food comes from and how the producers treat their employees and animals. Buy local.
- Carpool or bike to work (even one day a week helps)
- Spread awareness
When I returned from my JOFEE trip, I immediately spoke with coworkers at the OFJCC about taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint on campus as well. We have implemented campus-wide composting and recycling options, we use solar power and have just installed electric car charging stations in the parking garage on campus. I hope you will take steps where you work for a healthier environment.