There we were, Allie, Ascher and I, last Sunday on Montrose Beach on a bright and sunny, but windy, spring day. We had joined the Temple’s new Eco Chavura for Olam HaMitzvot and their Adopt-a-Beach program. Lead by the Lewis family, we picked up garbage on Montrose Beach with fellow congregants –adults, families with young kids and even teens. There were shards of plastic and glass everywhere like grains of sand. We found straws, food wrappers, underwear, and lots of cigarette butts. But one thing stood out. At the end of the afternoon, we had picked up over 150 bottle caps, mostly from plastic water and sports drink bottles. A 2008 estimate found that each American consumes 215 water bottles each year or 9 cases. As a nation, we consume 1500 bottles per second or 31.5 million per year. Beyond the garbage they generate, they require quantities of oil, and ironically water, to produce.
Temple Sholom can make a difference! If every member commits to forgo bottled water this year, we will prevent almost a quarter of a million bottles from entering the waste stream and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.6 million grams. Take a thermos and paper cups to the soccer and baseball field this spring and summer and/or buy a reusable bottle or cup. I certainly will be trying to do so with intention.
Susan Cahn is a Sisterhood Board member and has been an active member of Sholom for 20 years.