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Green Initiatives

New Initiatives

Expanding upon prior successful efforts by “The Green Team,” we are forming an expanded subcommittee focusing on sustainability. Won’t you join us? Below is some information to help you get started thinking about this issue, as well as suggestions that we can take as a congregation as we continue to promote sustainability at Shir Hadash, and beyond. Sustainability was defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) as activity that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The “triple bottom line” of sustainability encompasses the intersection of the environment with social justice (healthy communities) and economic vitality.

There are many things we can do to promote sustainability at Shir Hadash and beyond. For example, we can:
1) Reduce water used for landscaping by removing some grassy areas, install native plants and drip irrigation, and examine use of a “grey water” or “water-recycling” system;
2) Transition to green chemicals when cleaning our facility;
3) Reduce and ultimately eliminate use of harmful chemicals in our outdoor spaces;
4) Improve sustainability practices in our kitchen via examination of water and energy use; improved promotion and practice of compostable and waste practices; and institution of policies relating to animal product consumption as well as purchasing based on fair treatment of farm workers and fair trade;
5) Expand our Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) program;
6) Promote and coordinate walking, bicycling and carpooling to/from temple and religious school;
7) Examine energy use and make recommendations regarding increased use of renewable resources;
8) Promote social justice through expansion of our Mitzvah day projects;
9) Support local and state efforts to ensure workers are paid a living wage;
10) Increase educational opportunities for temple and community members to learn how they can practice sustainability in their daily lives.
Please consider joining these exciting efforts—and feel free to suggest others. For more information please contact Marjorie Freedman by email at or phone at 408-859- 8020.

Take the Veg Pledge

2015 is a great time to start something new. Take the Shir Hadash pledge to “put some Tikkun Olam on your plate” by going vegetarian one day a week. We’ll do it together and support each other.


Shir Hadash Works to Reduce Energy Use

In 2002, Congregation Shir Hadash installed a 10 kW photovoltaic (PV) system on its religious school roof to enable the congregation to use the renewable power of the sun for a portion of its electric needs. At the time it was estimated that this installation would reduce emissions the equivalent of driving approximately 32,097 miles in an average passenger car, and reduce CO2 emissions equal to the CO2 absorbed by approximately 4 acres of trees in one year.

Since then, the Congregation has implemented other green projects, including:

  • Installation of motion detectors in classrooms.
  • Use of natural heat and lighting in the congregation’s recent remodel.
  • A variety of educational programs for the congregation.

Visit the Green Team’s home page to learn how you can take action to conserve water.


In the fall of 2014 we started our compostable waste program. With the addition of a compost dumpster and specific food waste/compostable waste bins in the kitchens and Oneg room. We replaced our plastic utensils with compostable plastics and are aiming to have all non-biodegradable plastics replaced by the end of 2015. We strongly encourage all renters and caterers to either use compostable dishes and utensils or use reusable ones instead.

Holiday-Related Celebrations

The Temple’s green team hosted two wonderful Tu Bishvat Seders over the past two years and did educational work with the membership on issues related to waste and composting, and around carpooling. The Green Team also partners with other groups inside and outside of the congregation.

The Green Team is part of the Social Action Committee and those interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Social Action chair.


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