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Mitzvah Moments - February 2015


Mitzvah Moments - February 2015

by Tish Levee

Trees help to remove greenhouse gases and other pollutants from the air and lock carbon in the soil. Paper products come from trees; reducing or even eliminating paper products means more trees. Most of us recycle newspapers (including the Gazette, if we can bear to let it go) and magazines, but there are many other ways to reduce the use of paper, see

Love the water we drink. There is still a drought on—turn the water off. Get creative with water conservation—see

Love the place we live—California—and ban fracking now! Recently the governor of New York banned fracking after the Health Commissioner asked in a report, “Would I let my child play in the school field nearby, or my family drink the water from the tap or grow their vegetables in the soil? After reading a plethora of reports… my answer is no.” Now we have a real opportunity to get Gov. Brown to follow suit. The March for Real Climate Leadership ( on Feb. 7th at 11:30 AM at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza (14th & Broadway) in Oakland will bring together people from all over California. Get Santa Rosa bus information at 

Love your Community—Buy Local. Spending $100 in local independent businesses returns $68-$73 to the community in taxes, payroll, and other revenue, but only $43 if it is spent in a national chain store.

Love Valentine’s Day chocolate AND the people who produce it. Nearly three quarters of the world’s cocoa beans are grown on small farms in West Africa, where an estimated 200,000 children work as virtual slaves. Organic, Fair Trade, and chocolate from Latin America or certified by the Rainforest Alliance are generally slave-free. Get a directory of slave free chocolate from Buy Divine Chocolate, available at Whole Foods, the only Fairtrade chocolate company. Kuapa Kokoo—which means good cocoa growers—is owned by its cocoa farmers. While Fairtrade ensures farmers receive a better deal for their cocoa, company ownership gives them a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry, while increasing women’s participation and developing environmentally friendly cultivation practices. Because it operates so efficiently, it passes savings on to its members. After seeing the benefits Kuapa Kokoo gains for its members, more and more farmers want to join, and the association now has nearly 65,000 members organized in approximately 1400 village societies.

Love the future: make it one that IS lovable. The greatest burden we’re imposing on the next generation comes from the environmental damage we’re doing by consuming fossil fuel. Every day in this country, we use 800 million gallons of oil—enough to fill the Empire State Building three times. With every gallon we produce, ship, and burn, we incur costs that are piling up—for ourselves and for our children. Burning oil and other fossil fuels produces methane and CO2, which drive climate change, the major environmental challenge of our time. Since worldwide measurements were begun in 1880, 2014 was the hottest year worldwide.

A basic premise of “Mitzvah Moments” is that each of us making small changes can effect larger changes when we act in concert. I still believe that everyone working to lower our Carbon Footprint will make a difference. But that is no longer enough. Climate change is a scientific fact, whether we like it or not. Record high temperatures last year, droughts, floods, typhoons are all real. Even with a global moratorium on burning fossil fuels, temperatures will rise 2° F by 2100 (up to 11.5° if we do nothing.) Significant change will require an international effort of massive proportions. While continuing to do everything personally to reduce our own carbon footprint, we must join forces with others to influence decision makers to “get it,” before it is truly too late. If there is to be a future in which we want our grandchildren to live, society must change drastically. On Sept. 21st, 400,000 people marched in NYC to call attention to the climate crisis; now we’re seeing results in actions the Obama administration is taking. was instrumental in mobilizing these people. Got to for alerts for other actions, online and in person.

© Copyright Tish Levee, 2015. All rights reserved