8 Ways to Make Your Chanukah More Sustainable

From foods to gifts, there’s many ways to add sustainable practices to your Chanukah celebrations. Please share your ideas in the comments section at the bottom!

Black Rock Orchard. DuPont Circle Farmers Market. Washington, DC

Black Rock Orchard. DuPont Circle Farmers Market. Washington, DC

1. Organic apples and potatoes
Apples and potatoes are ranked #1 and #12, respectively, on Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue. Take pesticides out of Chanukah and prepare your latkes and applesauce with safer, healthier and tastier organic apples and potatoes.

2. Wooden dreidels
Plastic is forever and we are literally drowning in it. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive floating vortex, comprised mostly of plastic, that stretches from the West Coast of the US to Japan.  It doesn’t need more spinning plastic dreidles!

3. Fair Trade gelt
More than half the world’s cocoa is grown in the Ivory Coast where children are forced to work on farms without pay or safe conditions. Go guilt-free gelt, instead! Choose kosher certified gelt, produced only by adults at a democratically-run fair trade cooperative in Ghana.

4. Organic sour cream
If you like heaps of sour cream on your latkes, make sure you choose rGBH-free dairy (and organic, if possible). Otherwise, you’ll be eating sour cream made from cows that are fed a genetically engineered hormone fed to boost their milk production. The health impacts aren’t conclusive yet about rGBH but many scientists have expressed concern about a possible cancer relationship. And, it’s scary enough that rGBH is banned in Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

National Geographic: The Future of Food exhibit.

Examples of heirloom potatoes at The Future of Food exhibit, National Geographic, Washington, DC

5. Heirloom potatoes and apples
If you want to have the most-talked-about latkes and applesauce, then prepare your dishes with heirloom potatoes and apples.  Heirloom plants can be hundreds or thousands of years old. Due to their uniqueness, they are not grown in industrial agriculture. With threats from climate change and questions about how to feed billions of people, heirloom plants ensure genetic diversity and environmental sustainability in the face of these global challenges. 

6. Beeswax candles
Honey bees pollinate every third bite of food we eat. However, Colony Collapse Disorder–a massive die-off of bees worldwide–threatens our global food supplies. Support your local beekeeper buy purchasing beeswax Chanukah candles.

7. Buy local
When you buy Chanukah gifts from local shops, you are investing in your local economy, helping to provide good neighborhood jobs, supporting unique businesses and lessening your environmental impact. Buying food grown locally helps to preserve open space and food sources and your money is a direct investment in local farmers. And, with a short trip from their farm to your fork, the food will probably taste better, too!

8. Flax eggs or happy chicken eggs
You can use flax eggs instead of chicken eggs (1 tbsp flax seeds, 3 tbsp water) in your latkes.  If you prefer chicken eggs, choose ones that are pasture-raised. Such chickens are humanely raised on small farms where they spend their days in fields. They’re happier and healthier, so their eggs taste better!

Chanukah Sameach/Happy Chanukah!

Black Rock Orchard. DuPont Circle Farmers Market. Washington, DC

Black Rock Orchard. DuPont Circle Farmers Market. Washington, DC

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20 thoughts on “8 Ways to Make Your Chanukah More Sustainable

  1. Hey Sarah, all great suggestions. I have a question about eggs though. I normally buy “Cage Free,” but what does this designation really mean? I’ve heard it’s preferable to “Free Range” but that neither has particularly stringent standards when it comes to humane practices. Thoughts on this?

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  2. What a GREAT way to celebrate Chanukah without damaging our planet with plastic or ourselves with pesticides. It will be much more of a celebration for us this year knowing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Sarah for getting us started! How about also not using the disposable plates/napkins and kitschy plastic decorations while we’re at it! Love this blog post. Keep them coming!

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  5. Please use accurate info. Use of rbgh is not prevalent in the US. Something like 15 to 20% cows are treated with it, mostly on larger farms in the west. Rbgh free milk and products are available everywhere . Tired of being punished for a product that we and entire dairy community in my town do not use. Please celebrate the dairy farmers who have survived the past decades . Nine out of ten are gone.

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      • Um, my mother taught me to fry with peanut oil, which to me makes the latkes taste “authentic,” but it’s not readily available in the UK. And not even sure if I would still use it. I like the taste of olive oil but understand that at high temperatures it’s no longer healthy. Coconut oil is good to fry with, but expensive. I buy the stuff with the taste removed (and it’s organic and ethically sourced) and fry very rarely… and sometimes add a little OO for flavour. But it’s always a question! I’m actually preparing various posts on oils, but never seem to know exactly what I really do think. As an aside, I read a post yesterday on baking latkes– not sure how I feel about that ! 🙂

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