Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday I knew little about, but my son’s elementary school got off in order to observe the holiday. While I scrambled to rearrange my schedule so I could be with my son I decided to learn more about this fantastic holiday. Yom Kippur is the holiest of all Jewish holidays. It’s communal repentance for sins committed over the previous year. It’s a day of abstinence from all kinds of things like food, sexual relations and leather shoes.
In Israel it’s celebrated as a car-free day. In fact all vehicles including public buses, trains, and flights are halted. People bike along the highways, and some even bike between major cities. Also, some take a break from electricity. Not surprisingly the air quality improves considerably on Yom Kippur in Israel. Those who suffer from respiratory problems can have a break from the evil side effect of our ultra- convenient world. The earth has a chance to heal from our consumer rat race on this holiest of holidays. It gives us an emotional and physical break from the trappings of our conveniences. I can see how someone would feel spiritually and emotionally enriched after celebrating Yom Kippur in Israel.
Half a world away from Israel, Northern California is also foregoing electricity but not by choice. Due to the continued raging wildfires and high winds in California the state government ordered a blackout. Keeping the electricity on would only make the wildfires worse. As we are seeing more and more extreme weather- all due to climate change – I predict there will be more mandatory blackouts. While the west coast is seeing wildfires, the east coast is seeing flooding, and the Midwest is seeing tornadoes.
How do we prepare? Let’s choose to take breaks from electricity, cars, and disposable plastics. When done on purpose, it can be a day of reflection and re-thinking our system. It would promote creativity, as we would have to learn new ways to live. A true climate emergency will be without electricity. We need to learn how to connect with others at safe spots, without the convenience of phones, computers, and Apple watches. Also, people have a false perspective that living without some modern conveniences like landfills and electricity would be the end of the world. My grandmother in India and my husband’s grandmother grew up in rural Texas. They both lived their entire childhoods without electricity. My grandmother always said she had a great childhood, with a lot of siblings and cousins to play with. Living without landfills is inevitable – land will one day run out.
I always say that one day in the next 20 years, if not 10 years, someone will not come by to pick up your trash, as landfills will run out of room, or our climate emergencies will demand more of our money and attention. Now is the time to have cloth diaper services expand and be common place again, as they once were. Now is the time to have the milkman deliver milk again in reusable toxic- free glass container. Now is the time that we have Party Supply Libraries, Tool Libraries, and other things that will free us from landfills. It’s not impossible, we just need a break from our current system so we can rethink it, we can greenthink it.
We are learning how to live Zero/Low Waste here at GreenThinker DC. If you would like to learn with us join us, and live in the DC area, join us on November 7th at 10 AM at Busboys and Poets Brookland. We will sitting at the front in Maroon seats.