Green Tikkun Committee

Our motto is “Bal Tashchit”  –  Do Not Waste

Our Jewish Commitment to the Environment

Beth El reduces, reuses & recycles

  • Making distinctions is an integral part of Judaism. We distinguish the sacred from the profane. We separate Shabbat from the work week, and dairy from meat. Therefore, separating the reusable from our waste stream is Jewish! It’s a mitzvah to not waste.
  • Food and food related waste go into COMPOST BINSThese bins are in the main kitchen at all times. There are 2 kinds: round green compost bins and large black lidded compost bins. We also have large blue RECYCLING bins in both kitchens. Finally, we have light grey or light tan rectangular TRASH bins for serving gloves, plastic wrap, dirty plastic bags, etc.
  • During our formal Kiddush lunches, the large lidded COMPOST bins in the Social Hall are usually wrapped in a white sheet to look fancy. Next to each wrapped, open-lidded compost bin is a smaller wrapped unlidded TRASH bin. Please scrape food waste off washable plates and flatware into the large compost bins. Also, the following items are compostable and can go into the large lidded bins: used napkins, paper towels, wax paper or regular paper cups and plates, tea bags, wooden cutlery and wooden stirrers.
  • There are some things we can’t compost or recycle—such as plastic wrap, snack bags, food-service gloves, and tissues. These should be put in the smaller, rectangular gray TRASH BINS.
  • Please put glass, cans, aluminum foil items, and plastics in comingled RECYCLING BINS.
  • Put all types of paper and cardboard in PAPER BINS.
  • We try to not buy petroleum-based products. For food events, we mostly reuse washable tableware. If we must use disposables, we try to choose compostable products (paper, sustainably-grown wood, fiber, sugarcane, or corn).
  • Beth El discourages disposable water bottles. Please refill reusable containers or use a plain paper cup.

How to Recycle at Beth El

Did You Know?

  • In order to support renewable energy, Beth El purchases Green-e® Energy-certified renewable energy credits to match 100% of its usage. This means that every time that someone turns on a light in the synagogue, Beth El financially supports a wind farm. We also subscribe to a local solar farm in Maryland.
  • In 2016, Beth El was the first congregation to be certified a “green business” by Montgomery County.
  • In 2021, Beth El was the first place of worship to be listed on the Maryland Green Registry.

Five ways you can “green” your home

  1. Switch to renewable energy—wind, solar, or geothermal. Or sign up with a community solar project, such as through Arcadia using this link.
  2. Compost your food waste, or consider a compost pickup service.
  3. Bring your unwanted electronics for electronics recycling at Beth El on Mitzvah Day, held the last Sunday of each October.
  4. Get a programmable thermostat. Change the current settings to at least 1 degree warmer in summer and 1 degree cooler in winter. Look into Pepco’s EnergyWise program here.

Past events hosted or co-hosted by Green Tikkun Committee

  • Scholar-in-residence Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin spoke on “enoughness” in Judaism in 2009
  • Speaker Alon Tal and students from The Arava Institute on environmental issues in Israel in 2009
  • Scholar-in-residence Nigel Savage of Hazon spoke on eco-kashrut in 2011
  • Speaker Keith Harrington of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) in 2011
  • Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian directors of Eco-Peace (formerly Friends of the Earth Middle East) spoke about rehabilitating the Jordan River, and other cross-border environmental projects, in 2012 and 2013
  • Speaker Devora Kimelman-Block of Kol Foods on raising the bar for kashrut and her sustainable, kosher meat business in 2014
  • Movie screenings “Last Call at the Oasis” in 2012 and “Bag It!” in 2014
  • Panel discussion on Rosh Chodesh and Managing the Cycle of Stuff in Our Lives in 2014
  • Electronics recycling collection on Mitzvah Day, held each October since 2011
  • Annual Back-to-Shul trash-free BBQ, held each fall since 2014