Chabad hosts first-ever landfill free Shabbat dinner
Chabad held its first landfill free Shabbat dinner this January, an effort it hopes to make weekly.
For about a year, Chabad has hoped to make dinners landfill free, and the Chabad house has worked with Student Union’s Green Events Commission (GEC) in order to obtain enough money to support a landfill-free dinner.
Chabad Director of Operations Chana Novack said she hopes these dinners will lead to community education on sustainability and encourage other organizations to follow suit in opening discussion about the environment. She noted that there have been challenges to Chabad’s effort to go landfill free.
“At a typical Shabbat dinner, there might be up to 150 students,” Novack said. “With that many people in a small space for two hours, creating a zero-landfill event was a challenge.”
This venture started last year when the Green Events Commission approached Chabad about the possibility of making the weekly Shabbat dinners more environmentally friendly.
“The Green Events Commission came up with the original plan and gave us suggestions, which we then assessed the viability of,” Novack said.
Last year, Chabad had one green Shabbat and used this as a starting off point to continue into this year, as the current co-chair of the GEC, junior Hannah Greenhouse, explained.
“The goal of the Green Events Commission is to give materials and money for one or two events for a club, so [that] they slowly implement the materials into their budget in the future,” Greenhouse said.
Last year, the green Shabbat was funded directly by the GEC, but this year, the funding came from the original budget Chabad submitted to Student Union. Aside from financials, Chabad also needed student help necessary to support such an endeavor.
“In order for an organization like ours to be able to pull off something like this, it needs a lot of student initiative,” Novack said. “The more students participating in the actual process of sorting and composting and the more cognizant the students are of what’s going on, the more an organization like ours will want to continue the effort.”
Now that Chabad succeeded in their goal, other clubs can see firsthand how possible it is to go landfill free for events and the benefits of doing so, Greenhouse said.
“Every week, saving all of that waste from the landfill makes such a difference,” Greenhouse said. “With all the people seeing what Chabad’s doing, they will hopefully realize that their club can do the same.”
Novack said she hopes that these dinners have a lasting and profound effect on society.
“We aren’t only aiming for zero-landfill,” Novack said. “We’re hoping to engage the community in the discussion about the environment and how caring for the environment is a Jewish value.”
Greenhouse emphasized that any club, no matter how big, can do their part to be more sustainable, even if it just means composting a pizza box from a meeting.
“Any time a group sees themselves ending up with a significant amount of waste, [that group] should really invest in a compost bin,” Greenhouse said. “Small changes can result in a big difference in the amount of waste produced.”