Remembering Through Little Things


Being in a job where a lot of paper is used – books, handouts, lesson preparations, photocopies – I often felt that too much of it was wasted.

Some colleagues suggested having a special waste basket for paper so that it coud be recycled. For years this was deemed impossible since it would mean more work for the school cleaners. Then the school got guidelines from the Ministry of Education and had to comply.

It still seemed that a lot of the paper going into the waste had hardly been used and it bothered me, until I came across this website. I visited this site for a reason that had nothing to do with environmental issues – I had just finished a book by Blu Greenberg – but I read a eulogy and a memory page that helped me with this issue.

J.J. was a man who loved life. He showed constant reverence for life. He was a vegetarian, at his own initiative, since the age of 14. He was a Machmir (very strict observer) of the command bal tashchit – “not to waste.” He was a friendly but relentless recycler. Under his watchful eye at Jewish Life Network, not a single piece of paper went into a wastebin without being used on both sides.

I now make sure to write on both sides of a paper, I keep unused photocopies and give them to the students for scrap paper and encourage them to do the same. It is not a big deed but I feel that every little thing helps.

In Judaism we believe that we live on after our death in the good works that we have done and in the good name we have made for ourselves. I hope that J.J. Greenberg’s relatives and friends find comfort in the fact that J.J. still inspires people – even strangers – in their commitments and everyday life.

More Think(ing) Green Posts at Ramblingwoodsgreen.



12 thoughts on “Remembering Through Little Things

  1. Even the tiniest gesture to help this poor planet survive and be livable for generations to come counts, Ilana-Davita, and I don’t think it has anything to do with ‘later’, after we have gone beyond. It’s an obligation we have toward mankind, toward each other, and mostly toward the children of today and the generations to come.
    By the way, living in France you go crazy when you try NOT to waste paper. Case in point:
    I asked the charming lady at our townhall why she made 5 copies of a certain document. She frowned, thought deeply and said: Je ne sais pas.
    Together we counted: one copy for the townhall, one for the Conseil General, one for me … and the two other copies? In the garbage bin!
    Stop the World, I wanna get off…

    • You’re right Deborah; when you live in France and travel a bit you realize how far behind we are in environmental issues compared to other countries. A few years ago I didn’t know one single French person who was a vegetarian.

  2. You write so beautifully about the environment. I’ve heard some argue, why bother making these little changes if others are not. In Judaism, we just do something because it is the right thing to do.

    I am very happy with my canvas bags for shopping. I now have 7 of them, and my husband has two.

    • Thank you for the compliment.
      I agree with what you say about Judaism and “the right thing to do”.
      I too have started buying canva bags; the last one comes from the library in the Swedish town where we have the exchange.

  3. This is a lovely post and perfect for Thinking Green. I remember that as a child my grandfather would give us kids this paper from his place of employment that had something on one side, yet we could have the other side to do with as we pleased. That is until one day a playmate asked why we were coloring on garbage. I told him that it wasn’t garbage it was my ‘grandpa’s special paper’. Funny I hadn’t thought of that in years. …Michelle

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