Omer Learning: Day 41: Improving our Environment

The Count

Tonight we count the following day of the Omer:

Today is 41 days, which is 5 weeks and 6 days of the Omer

See: The blessings and procedure for counting the Omer.

Today’s Learning

The topic of today’s learning is Improving our Environment. It was contributed by Irene.

Joining a Buy Nothing group is great for the environment because it declutters, reuses items, and keeps them out of landfills. There’s an ancient talmudic teaching attributed to Rabbi Yehuda ha Nasi (known as Rebbi) not to throw away something we consider useless before giving others a chance to use it. Specifically, “a person should not spill out the extra water from his pit when others may need it.” (Yavamos 44a). Rebbi would have loved the Buy Nothing group I belong to because it modernizes his teaching and takes it to a new level.

What is a Buy Nothing group? Simply, it’s a hyperlocal group of people living in the same area who use Facebook to give away “gifts” of items they no longer want to others who’d like to have them. It’s also a place where people can “wish” for something they’d like that may be taking up space in a neighbor’s home. I’m an admin of a Buy Nothing group that covers the northwest corner of Arlington and part of Falls Church. There are similar groups throughout the DMV area so there’s probably one in your neighborhood too.

Sometimes “gifted” items are small, like moving boxes or padded envelopes. Last week, a parent asked whether anyone had a tri-fold presentation board used at science fairs because her daughter needed one for school. I happened to have one of those boards in my dining room serving no useful purpose for the past several years. Within an hour the item was out of my house and being put to good use by someone else. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it is helpful to both parties.

You can find just about anything on a Buy Nothing group. There are always toys, baby items, clothes, jewelry, dishes, furniture, puzzles, books, groceries, plants, even some Jewish items. I got a box of Passover breakfast cereal during the holiday and while I can’t say it was especially tasty I can say that it was appreciated. Some people were getting rid of frog items and those were great at my seder table. And I’ve passed along many items I no longer need to others.

Sometimes I’m amazed that people ask for and find the craziest things. This week someone asked to borrow an adult-sized giraffe costume and received one!! Rebbi would have loved that!

There’s a guy in our group who enjoys tinkering with electronics. When people offer to give away partially functioning small appliances and no one else wants them, he repairs them, and then gives the items or the proceeds to charity,

I especially love what I call “mother-in-law” gifts. A well-meaning mom purchases something for her daughter-in-law or grandkids with the best of intentions but it just isn’t their taste. Sometimes it is MY taste! Then there are the wedding gifts – beautiful items used infrequently and stashed away in a closet for years until it is time to declutter. As a result, I have a lovely vase on my dining room table. I also have some art for my home library.

If you need help finding your local Buy Nothing group, I’m happy to help. I also think it would be great to start a CEH Judaica swap if others are interested.

Here’s a New York Times article about Buy Nothing. Can you believe that people in New York were offering and claiming items like dryer lint and pickle juice? Turns out that dryer lint is great in the fireplace and pickle juice kills weeds in the garden. Who knew?

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