by Ora Sheinson
Pesach. The holiday of our freedom! Too often it becomes the holiday of our environmental degradation, beginning with toxic cleaning supplies and ending with bags full of plastic and aluminum trash. Below are some basic tips covering a few of the many ways to reduce the personal stress and environmental impact often associated with Passover, while celebrating a happy and kosher holiday.
Personal Stress Reduction:
I would like to echo the statement of many, many Rabbanim and state that Passover cleaning is much less intensive than spring cleaning. For spring cleaning, one might clean the top of a six foot bookshelf and wipe around light fixtures, but even the most stringent guidelines do not require this level of cleanliness for Passover. Women (and men) should NOT drive themselves crazy cleaning for Passover. This cleaning anxiety inspires the wrong kind of dread for the holiday and is not required by Jewish law. Furthermore, cleaning significantly raises the environmental impact of Passover, due to the many harsh chemicals used in the cleaning process.
Remember that many everyday cleaners contain harsh chemicals that are destructive to the environment, and toxic to us. Some chemicals cause only temporary irritation, while others have long lasting affects on the nervous system, and are especially dangerous for young children. For sources of safer, easier, and cheaper alternatives made from everyday household items, see “Detoxify Your Home” from COEJL.
Each Passover, many reams of aluminum foil are wasted attempting to cover counters, shelves. While aluminum may be necessary in very limited areas such as sinks and range tops that cannot be kashered, easier and more environmentally friendly alternatives are available for the remaining areas. For example: local kitchen re-decorating stores can cut attractive pieces of linoleum to fit counter tops that are simple to tape down and remove, easy to wipe clean during the holiday, and effortless to store. (My mother has done this for 10 years and it’s really easy.) similarly, thick plastic can be cut and reused for appropriate surface areas. Ultimately, fitted linoleum pieces or plastic sheets become an environmental and economical method of covering large surfaces.
Pesach inherently requires us to increase our consumption by cleaning our homes, covering surface area, and changing our dishes. However, there are simple and effective methods for us to ensure a more religiously meaningful and environmentally friendly holiday.
WISHING EVERYONE A CHAG KASHER v’ SAMEACH, AND AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY HOLIDAY!!
Originally posted in “On Eagles’ Wings” April 5th 2006