Greta Thunberg of Sweden was just eight years old when she first heard of global warming. Since she did not understand why no one was doing anything in the discussion, she sank into a deep depression, and at age fourteen she began protesting every Friday in front of the parliament building in Stockholm. After herself, she enraptured hundreds of thousands of youths all over the world demanding that their governments implement significant marches in the interest of the climate crisis.

So it is true, not all of us were formed from the same tough material that Greta was made from, but it is important that we understand — the climate crisis is not “fake news”, it is not a hobby topic designed to occupy rich people in their time of leisure. The crisis is real and is supported by thousands of studies showing the direct link between global warming and extreme weather events (droughts, floods, heat waves, and hurricanes) and the immense damages that they cause.

We at Paamonim have already known for a while that it’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, but the people who come to us know that changing one’s habits is necessary. Here are four ways to make your life greener without spending more money, and possibly even saving some:

Plastic bags at the grocery store

In 2002, Ireland passed a law obliging a tax of 33 cents (about a shekel and a half) on every single-use bag. Guess what happened? There are no more plastic bags in Ireland. What about Scandinavia? Same thing. If you go into a grocery store in Denmark, you’ll find plastic and (recycled) paper bags at a price of about 4 kroner (between about one and a half to two shekels). The reason is obvious, right?

How many of you would keep paying for plastic bags at the store if every bag cost us one to two shekels? How many of us would keep forgetting to bring reusable bags from home?  It’s only a matter of time until Israel will catch up with the rest of the world. The consumption of pollutant materials has to fade away. A large proportion of those bags goes to the sea and kills animals, or “just” goes into their digestive system and shows up whilst making fish for Shabbat dinner. It’s certainly worth getting used to .

Single-use products

If there was an Olympic sport for consumption of single-use products, Israel would win gold medals in every category. The sport costs between half a billion and a billion shekels per year and we’re still inclined to do it. Why wash out products if we can simply buy millions of non-biodegradable items at ridiculous prices? Zero regulations on the matter and zero restrictions have brought Israel to the pinnacles of illogic in relation to the rest of the world in consumption of these pollutant products.

If you try to organize a party in Stockholm, you will struggle to find single-use products and if you already did, you will pay at least ten times what you would normally pay, because there are almost no shops that sell these kinds of products, definitely not in the insane quantities that exist in Israel, and the prices are significantly higher.

On every average Israeli street, there is at least one shop that sells hundreds of kilograms of non-biodegradable single-use products. We would expect the government to defeat this phenomenon — to hand out taxes or fines, to force the vendors to raise prices, to deter the consumer and make them think ten times about their personal comfort in relation to the environmental pollution that they are creating, but as of now that’s not happening. Therefore, the responsibility falls on us, the consumers.

Instead of buying a hundred plastic cups for ten shekels, buy ten biodegradable cups and teach your kids not to throw out every cup after use. Teach them to sacrifice lack of easy and personal comfort for a cleaner and sustainable future.

Secondhand

Quit buying things that you don’t need. Would you believe that on the face of the Earth there are currently more artificial materials than natural ones? That’s a fact. Shirts at 29.90NIS, plastic toys at 19.90NIS — they’re cheap and available, encouraging us to buy more and more clothes and items that no one needs.

Studies show that the process of manufacturing one T-shirt requires the use of about 2700 liters of water for the irrigation of the cotton that it’s made of. Thousands of liters of water and fuel are wasted in the manufacturing process and in the transportation of the same cheap, available products. We are abusing planet Earth, enlarging everything for money, and burning away the future for a cheap, available present. Do good, until biodegradable plastic and self-growing cotton are invented, simply consume less. It’s good for you, good for the environment, and also good for your bank account.

COVID-19

Until March 2020, we assumed that only a hit to the wallet (an increase in the price of goods) or legislation could instigate a real change in the environmental field. Experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is just a preview to the augmenting climate crisis, and that we were told to use it as a lesson and implement steps to avert a much larger catastrophe.

In a report published by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) last December, the UN Secretary-General is quoted as saying that he has determined it is on all people to change the trajectory. COVID-19 revealed the lesson that we must learn of our obligation to respect the world we live in. The environmental situation influences the economy, health, social justice, and human rights.

At the lowest level, if the price difference isn’t significant, always go with the environmental option. Put the environmental cause into your system of considerations and begin to act on a daily basis. Turn off the light when you leave your room or the television when you aren’t watching it, fix a timer for your electric boiler, dry your laundry in the sun, use reusable products like water bottles and fabric grocery bags, separate your trash, grow herbal plants, walk or bike instead of traveling in a vehicle, make an effort to buy local products in order to save on transportation costs — be the change you wish to see in the world within yourself. Experts at this can try composting their leftover fruits and vegetables or recycling everything possible — start with old clothing that can be converted into another product with a bit of sewing skills, or even overripe bananas that can be made into cake.

Good luck.

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