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February Environmental Pledge: Energy and Water

This 5782 shemita year challenges us to evaluate our regular routines of production and consumption and to commit to the spiritual work of environmental stewardship. Joining BJ’s Environmental Pledge is an investment in the land that sustains us all: Planet Earth. 

Commit to this pledge by taking on (at least) one recommended action per month. 

Learn more about the pledge and find more resources here.

Jewish Values

The Torah commands us to observe Bal Tashhit, “you shall not destroy,” which prohibits us from unnecessarily destroying or wasting anything (Deuteronomy 20: 19-20). 

But in our modern world, we waste large amounts of natural resources. This month’s pledge instead challenges us to reduce our waste of energy and water, and to move closer to the values of Bal Tashhit.

The Science

Planet Earth is on fire. Our dependence on the fossil fuels that power our energy consumptionwhich release large amounts of greenhouse gas into the air, trapping heat in our atmosphere—has led us to the perilous situation of rapidly rising global temperatures. These changes are increasingly causing extreme and dangerous natural disasters, which may make parts of the planet entirely uninhabitable.   

Even though a minor rise in temperature doesn’t sound like an extreme problem, the planet’s temperature has already increased by 1 degree Celcius over the last century, causing deadly heat waves, droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters. Without drastic changes on our part, Earth’s temperature will rise another 2-5 degrees Celcius and these disasters will become the norm rather than the exception, leading to millions of people around the world suffering or being displaced or killed by weather-related events. 

The Pledge

Reducing our personal energy and water usage means power plants and water supply and treatment systems produce less energy, lowering the demand for harvesting fossil fuels. Taking steps to reduce our intake of energy and other precious resources moves us all closer to a sustainable future and healthier planet.

To make a positive impact on our planet, join this month’s pledge by adopting at least one of the following actions.

Something Easy

This month and every month going forward, I will:

Turn off or unplug everyday appliances when not in use, such as lights, computers, TVs, and small appliances. I will also unplug cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices when they are fully charged and unplug the chargers from electrical outlets. 

Reduce heat and air conditioner usage by lowering the temperature on my thermostat in the winter and ventilating my home using fresh air and open windows in the summer.

Preserve precious water by

  • Not letting the water run while brushing my teeth, shaving, washing my face and hands, or washing the dishes. 
  • Limiting my time taking showers and replacing showerheads with an EPA-approved WaterSense showerhead. 
  • Running my dishwasher only when full rather than daily.
  • Running the washing machine when I have a full load to wash, using a cooler water setting. 
  • Refrigerating my drinking water instead of running the faucet until it’s cold.
  • Designating one glass or water bottle per person per day so that it can be refilled and only needs to be washed once. 
  • Installing WaterSense aerators on the kitchen and bathroom faucets to reduce flow to less than 1 gallon per minute and to save money. 
  • Reducing the size of my lawn so there’s less to water and replacing grass with mulch, ground cover, drought-tolerant plants, or ornamental grasses. 
  • Using soaker hoses or drip irrigation on my lawn to apply water slowly and evenly and watering early in the day when evaporation rates are low, allowing more water to be absorbed.
    Bonus tip: Look for EPA-approved WaterSense products for your showerheads and faucets to reduce water waste and save money.

Something a Little Harder

This month and every month going forward, I will:

  • Switch to LED light bulbs to lower my electricity usage from lights by 50-75% and to replace them less often. I will also install dimmer switches to make the bulbs last longer and further decrease energy usage.
    Bonus tip: Lighting accounts for about 15% of an average home’s electricity use. LED bulbs use significantly less electricity than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, last about 25 times longer, and save you money.
  • Commit to carbon-free and energy-saving transportation by walking, riding a bicycle, or using public mass transportation whenever possible instead of driving my car or taking a taxi.
  • Replace appliances (when necessary) with more sustainable alternatives to extend the lives of major appliances in my home until it is absolutely necessary to replace them. When I need to replace appliances, I will buy those that are energy efficient. And if I need to replace my car, I will buy or lease an electric or hybrid model.
  • Switch to a renewable energy electricity company by joining an Energy Services Company that finds and implements ways to save energy. 

Something More Challenging

This month and every month going forward, I will:

  • Reduce electric and gas consumption by at least 20%.
  • Avoid or reduce air travel in order to decrease the carbon dioxide footprint created by flight emissions.
    Bonus tip: One transatlantic flight produces more carbon dioxide than most people create in an entire year.
  • Downsize. If I have to move, I will move to a smaller apartment or house to reduce my overall energy consumption.

Prizes and Sharing

Everyone who joins the Environmental Pledge will be entered into a drawing for a sustainability-related prize. 

Let us know what you pledged to do by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #BJPledge.

Written By Kiana Davis

Kiana Davis is the Social Action/Social Justice manager at BJ. She previously worked at the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center as a Policy Analyst and Public Benefits Advocate, and at t...

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