SAMS Eco Team has been making steady progress working towards and gaining our Bronze award, writes Leonie Aigin. Ideally, we want eco thinking to be as integral to our community, building and members as something like Kashrut. We have been doing many things to get going and I list a few of them below.

Cutting Carbon Use

We have been undertaking detailed work to determine our baseline energy use. For example, we need to work out how much power (electricity and gas) we are using. This will then enable us to set targets for its reduction.

From our calculations it appears that we are using about 42,000kWh of electricity and gas; this equates to about 11 tonnes of carbon per annum. We will now be working on ways to reduce usage, for example, using time switches, changing to a green provider (who guarantee that we are supplied with electricity from renewable sources).

We are starting to set up small community hubs, geographically centred. There are many reasons this is being done, but one of them is to encourage the idea of car sharing to events as the majority of our members live outside St Albans.

Greening our Kiddush

We have been working on ensuring a more sustainable offer for Kiddushim.

There is now a ‘green’ section in the Providing A Kiddush guide. We have bought enough glass Kiddush glasses for any large event, eradicating the need for disposables. We had a sustainable Kiddush on Tu B’shvat provided by the Ecoteam We are planning another sustainable and locally produced Kiddush on 25 May, this will coincide with the St Albans Sustainability Festival.

Eco Education

Rabbi Adam has run two very successful eco themed events for SAMS youth. They made paper flowers out of books that could no longer be used for Shavuoth 2018 and made non-circulating hydroponic herb gardens out of mason jars for Tu Bishvat 2019. The Parsley was ready for Passover! Rabbi Adam also ran a youth education trip to the Tring Natural History Museum and an Animal rescue centre in Watford.

We have a new green logo which we place in our weekly newsletter with a different green tip every week. One of our members works for Dacorum council and he will be talking to us during Kiddush about recycling, the facts and the myths. Earlier in the year we held a havdallah adult learning session discussing our connection to place and space, highlighting a common theme of many of our members, a love of the outdoors.

We are hoping to hold an eco fundraising day in September which will double up as an awareness and education day.

Reducing Waste

We polled our members to see if anyone was prepared to have their Pesach Newsletter in digital format. We had such a positive response that with the money saved we were able to produce the paper copies required on recycled paper and buy tablecloths for the communal Seder rather than using paper disposables.

We’ve been busy, but as we all know there is still a long way to go. With the help of Eco Synagogue guiding us it takes what feels a very mammoth task breaks it into achievable chunks and guides us forward and then almost magically, we hit the Bronze award!!