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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - March 2016


Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - March 2016

by Tish Levee

Rain, rain, DON’T go away, not yet!

We’ve had lots of rain—in Santa Rosa January saw nearly 11 inches, but we need a lot more to offset four years of drought. This is no time to let up on all the water-saving measures we’ve been learning during this drought. And hopefully, we won’t ever really let up on them; this is drought country and always will be. California became the most populous state in the nation during a150 years of its wettest climate. Now we are be returning to a much drier “normal” We can’t really ever say, “the drought it over.”

Water saving. 

The last four years have been the driest in California’s recorded history; over this period, many governmental agencies and others have developed sophisticated websites and material on how to save water. The City of Santa Rosa’s site is excellent with many ideas organized according to different parts of your life and your home; information about how climate change is affecting our water supplies; and links to rebates for replacing turf, toilets, and more. It also has links to report water wasters. If you’re doing your part, you want others too, but you may not want to confront them on their water use. To see how much water you use, go to

Wasting food wastes water, too. 

In the US approximately 40 % of all food is wasted; of that, 97% ends up in landfills where it produces methane gas—21 times more potent at causing global warming that CO2. In 2003 wasted food in the US used the equivalent of 300 billion barrels of oil a year—4% of all oil we used. But the real waste is of water, because 70% of the world’s water is used in agriculture—it’s 80% in California. A 2013 study found that the 13 billion tons of food wasted world-wide also wasted 45 trillion gallons of water, or 24% of all the water used on the planet.

Of course, not all food is equal when it comes to how much water it contains. For instance wheat uses much less than fruits and vegetables, and meat requires a whole lot more to produce (fortunately we don’t leave a lot of meat on our plate). Find the amounts of water in different foods at here.

Maybe we could follow the lead of France, which last December unanimously passed a bill forcing supermarkets to donate unsold food, rather than throwing it away.  Just five percent of our food waste could feed 4 million people a day.

State-wide plastic bag ban on the ballot.

Here in Sonoma County, you may think this issue is a done deal. Which it is; our plastic bag ban became fully enforced in September 2014. The same month California followed suit with the first state-wide ban on plastic bags. Slated to go into effect in July 2016, it’s now on hold, as plastic bag manufacturers spent over $3 million, 99% of it from out-of-state, to place a referendum on this November’s ballot. We need to make sure they don't get .their way

In 2008 Sonoma County used 230 million plastic grocery bags—in California it was 18.2 billion.  Less than 5% of these bags are recycled, and very few end up in landfills. Instead they litter our landscape, pollute our waterways, and add to the Pacific Garbage Patch. In the next few months, millions more dollars will be flooding into California from out-of-state to support the bag manufacturers. “If Californians can't manage to ban single-use plastic bags,” said the L.A. Times, “…it doesn't speak well of the [our] ability to confront the bigger environmental challenges that lie ahead. The ban is NOT a tax and it will NOT cause massive job loss in the plastic industry.”

Sonoma County’s Climate Protection Campaign’s leading the way—again

CCP played a significant role in the development of Sonoma Clean Power, the second Community Choice Energy program in California. Now, with the help of CCP, there will be five of them in California by October; over 80 are now in the pipeline.

© copyright Tish Levee, 2016

 Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee