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Green Mitzvah Mania

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Green Mitzvah Mania photo 2

Green Mitzvah Mania at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, August 2008

It seems like the whole world is really into “going green” these days.  Everyone from Jewel and Walgreens to Bloomingdales and Barnes and Noble is selling their own reusable bags, hybrid cars are hitting the streets at rapid speed, and the new Whole Foods at Sheffield and Kingsbury has Chicagoans salivating at the idea of buying organic (even if it’s just an excuse to see this shrine to deliciousness – it’s unreal!).

For me, this wave of environmentalism has crashed on top of my office.  In the past several years, we’ve received countless calls about volunteering to help the environment.  The TOV Volunteer Network strives to connect potential volunteers with opportunities that suit their interests and availability, and for me, this means working with bar and bat mitzvah kids, recent graduates, professionals of all ages, retirees, stay-at-home moms, and anyone else you can think of who might ask “How can I get involved and help?”

Volunteering for the Cook County Forest Preserves or lending a hand at the Lincoln Park Conservatory are a couple of clear answers. Getting your hands dirty.  Diving in head first to surf the green wave. 

But what about the not-so-obvious answers.  Sorting donations at a consignment shop means that clothes that might have ended up in a landfill will now go to someone in need (or those lucky people who shop in thrift stores and somehow find the coolest vintage clothes for, like, 50 cents…).  Same goes for shoes – next time you’re at Fleet Feet getting new sneakers, bring any old shoes collection dust in your closet and an agency called Share Your Soles will take those last-season shoes and give them to children and adults who have never owned a pair of shoes in their lifetimes…or even better, volunteer to wash and sort those shoes!

In response to communal interest, TOV initiated a program (or shall I call it…a surfboard) called Green Mitzvah Mania, a calendar of one-time eco-friendly volunteer opportunities, and this year, we’re at it again!  Check out the link for the details – the first project is on June 18th!

But repairing the world – or as us Jews like to call it: tikkun olam – doesn’t have to be a scheduled volunteer project.  It can be as easy as making changes to your everyday actions, like recycling, using public transportation, or changing your next light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb.  Or become an advocate by reaching out to your congressman.  

I know that not everyone out there is ready to catch a ride on that giant green wave…but if you are, TOV is happy to give you a surfing lesson!

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