Tips for a Sustainable Hanukkah

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Hanukkah Candles

Make a few simple changes to your Hanukkah traditions for a more sustainable and healthier holiday.

Use Non-Toxic Chanukah Candles

Most candles today are made from paraffin wax, a petroleum based byproduct that can emit toxins into the air. You can read more about the potential health hazards in my Shabbat Candles post here.

Some better options;

  • Beeswax Candles: Not only is beeswax more eco-friendly, it purifies the air as well. Beeswax candles release negative ions into the air – so you get the extra benefit of an air purifier. There are so many options available for Hanukkah candles made of beeswax, see some of them here (just make sure to check for 100% beeswax). If you have a favorite go-to brand please share in the comments.
  • Good Light Chanukah Candles: GoodLight makes tea lights, shabbat candles, and Chanukah candles out of non-toxic palm wax. I found them in my local Whole Foods.
  • Olive Oil: Since the miracle we celebrate happened with olive oil, using olive oil with wicks is a non-toxic and beautiful way to enhance the celebration of this mitzvah. You can also get pre-filled oil cups that fits in most menorahs.

If you do continue to burn the more common and budget friendly candles, make sure the room is well ventilated, especially for those with asthma and other respiratory concerns.

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Go Organic

The best part of the holidays is usually the traditional foods we all serve, like potato latkes and applesauce.

But according to the Environmental Working Group:

  • 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.

And pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

Both apples and potatoes made it to the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list which singles out produce with the highest pesticide loads. Switch to organic potatoes and apples or applesauce to minimize your exposure. And don’t forget to look for organic sour cream as well.

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This is really important especially for our children. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report about research that linked pesticide exposures in early life and “pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems.”

Guilt-Free Gelt

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As we celebrate our freedom, let’s not forget that modern day slavery issues still exist on cocoa farms.

Divine Chocolate and Fair-Trade Judaica has partnered up to offer fair trade kosher certified (OU-D) chocolate gelt.

Last time I checked it was very expensive on Amazon, but you can find it in Whole Foods and on the Divine Chocolate website.

10% of all sales go to Fair Trade Judaica and T’ruah to support their efforts in ending child slavery in the cocoa fields.

Judaica Gifts

I like connecting Judaism’s agricultural roots in teaching the meaning of the holiday. One of my favorite children’s Chanukah books is Harvest of Light by Allison Ofanansky. The book follows the olive harvest through the eyes of a young girl in Israel to the final pressing of the oil used to light a menorah.

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For the adults, check out Amelia Saltsman’s new cookbook, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. It’s farm-to-table meets Jewish holidays type of book. And for modern Israeli cuisine, you simply cannot miss out on Michael Solomonov’s Zahav!

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Those with younger children will also enjoy these wooden Chanukah and Menorah sets. We take ours out just on Chanukah, so they last for years and are fun to play with.

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This Hanukkah Mad Libs is also a really fun family game.

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Are you into the latest adult coloring craze? Get the Judaica themed Shalom Coloring Adult Coloring Book here or the Star of David Coloring Book for Stress Relaxation. Match it up with some cool eco-friendly metallic coloring pencils for a great holiday gift.

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Keep your gifts eco-friendly by looking for recycled paper gift wrap (I usually buy kraft paper), gift bags, or reusable bags.

Same with your party decorations and paper goods. There are more options available online and in stores for more sustainable materials.

Homemade treats are always healthier than store-bought. Make it more fun with these holiday inspired baking molds: Hanukkah Silicone Dreidel Mold, Star of David or Dreidel Muffin/Cupcake Pan, and Hanukkah Cookie Cutters.

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What other tips would you add to have a more sustainable Hanukkah?

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