The Jewish festival of Passover or Pesach is one in which most people in Israel and Jewish people around the world spend much time in preparation, especially house cleaning and disposing of unwanted items, and over eating highly caloric packed foods, much of which often goes to waste afterwards. Observant Jews are also made aware of the many Biblical laws and commandments that God gave to the Children of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years. These laws and commandments are meant to make Jews more aware of the connection between this beautiful holiday to helping to preserve the environment.
Plastic polymers are health hazards
Jews who observe the seven day festival fully also use special dishes that are otherwise in storage in their homes during the rest of the year.
These dishes insure that the family using them will be Kosher for Passover, meaning that no leavened bread products or “hametz” contaminate them. But now, in Israel at least, a new trend is developing in which one-time-use dishes, cutlery, and even cookware is readily available at reasonable prices.
One store chain known as the Peamit Store offers a huge variety of plastic and paper items that can no only cook and serve your food, but allows you to enjoy the festival without the need without the need to get out the “Pesadiche” dishes and afterwards put them away again.
While this may seem very nice and convenient, those who are concerned environmentalists may wonder what happens to all those used up disposable dishes and utensils during and after the seven day festival.
Well, you guessed it; most of them get thrown into landfills, just like the million dollar mattress did a couple of years back.
Except of cookware made from thin aluminum sheeting, itself polluting to soil and ground water after a period of time, the one time use throw away dishes glassware, and cutlery is made from the same polymer and polystyrene plastics
that plastic beverage bottles are made of. Although some for these disposable items will surely be sorted out and put in recycle bins for plastic materials, it’s probably a sure bet that most of this stuff will wind up in land fills where they will lay for perhaps hundreds of years.
One shouldn’t blame the stores selling the utensils; they are just filling a need expressed by people living in today’s throwaway and fast food influenced society. The real responsibility falls on the general public who can help the environment by recycling these items; or even better, not use them at all and simply go through the process of using the stored Passover dishes and properly cleaning cookware in order for them to be Kosher for Passover.
Naturally, the use of throwaway plastic ware applies during the rest of the year as well.
Read here about Passover environmental issues and those involving use of plastic utensils:
A Plastic Pollution Cocktail: Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Items
Connecting the Profound: Jewish Passover and the Environment
Ten Tips to Avoid Food Wastes on Passover
Eco Rabbi Explores Passover Cleaning as a Good Way to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle