Purim is a festival of joy and celebration but unfortunately one of a lot of waste, too. There are many ways that we can enjoy our holiday in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Leket Israel, Israel's National Food Bank and leading food rescue network, recommends the following tips for a more eco-friendly Purim.
- Trash the Baskets: What can you do with so many straw baskets and gift bags? Package your Mishlo-ach Manot in useful, reusable containers such as storage containers, glasses, mugs and pasta drainers for year-round usability.
- Wrap it Up: Mishloach manot food items can be wrapped up in a pretty hand towel, apron or other useful fabric item.
- Sustainable Stuffing: Instead of padding your package with shredded cellophane or colored paper, use banana chips, sunflower seeds or popcorn (only for recipients older than 3).
- Bag It: Give your gifts in eco-friendly cloth bags that your friends can reuse for shopping.
- Naturally Sweet: Replace the candy and chocolates with fresh and dried fruit or fruit leathers, unsweetened fruit juices, and other healthy products.
- Purim Swap Shop: Your son doesn't want to wear last year's cowboy outfit? Many costumes are perennial favorites. Create a neighborhood swap shop with everyone's unwanted, worn-once Purim costumes.
- Raid Mom's/Dad's Closet: Introduce your kids to the old Purim tradition of creating their own costumes from your (old) clothing, hats, shoes and jewelry. Encourage their imagination to run wild!
- Recycling Can Be Cool: Making a costume from cardboard boxes, kitchen roll tubes, etc. needn't be old-fashioned. Your child could become an ipod, cellphone or digital camera!
- Join a Purim Co-op: Give mishloach manot as a community. Compile a list of all the members in the community (neighborhood, synagogue, seniors group, etc.). People can check off the names of those they would like to send a gift to, contributing a set amount for each name. Volunteers prepare and deliver one nice-sized food gift to each person, with a note listing all of their friends who thought of them. The beauty of this idea is that is saves the time and excess food and packaging of multiple gift-giving, creates a strong sense of community fellowship and any profits can be given to charity.
- Share the Spoils: Purim is over and you find yourself overloaded with unwanted food gifts? Bring (unopened) food items to a local food bank or organize a food drive at your child's school for distribution to needy families.