by Shaina Abrams-Kornblum, Eastern Regional Manager

 According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces 5.91 pounds / 2.7 kilos of trash daily.

I wanted to make my house more sustainable and I started by hosting a Sustainability Shabbat. I learned a few things along the way:

1. Sustainability Starts at the Store!

When you are buying produce at the grocery store, remember to bring your reusable bags. Challenge yourself to bring your own produce bags as well to reduce your need for plastic produce bags. When you’re shopping take the time to look for items without plastic wrap or plastic packaging. 

Sustainability also means better food choices. Check out this article. Making a Difference Through your Menu, by Leah Jalfon, MHWOW Program Coordinator, for some awesome sustainable swaps in your holiday meals.

2. Calculate More, Buy Less

When it comes to hosting large events you never want anyone to go hungry, but there is a balance between buying enough and overbuying. Work with your fellow residents and put an RSVP system in place to get more exact calculations on the food that needs to be purchased. 

3. Start Composting

But actually! Composting is a complete game changer. I don’t have the capacity (space wise or mentally) to start composting on my own so I found a local company that picks up my food waste and does everything for me. They provide the bins, the bags, and the pickup service so all I have to do is put my food waste out once a week. Many of these companies will also provide special event services and do a pickup specifically after a large event. Many farmers markets also offer a compost drop off so check with your local market too. 

4. It Won’t Be Perfect

This was an important lesson for me to share. Do you best, but try to set realistic expectations of how your programs can be more sustainable. It’s unrealistic to think that you can make every program zero waste. Take sustainability in steps! When I originally planned my Sustainability Shabbat, I wanted to get produce from local farmers markets. Unfortunately, none of the local market schedules fit in with my schedule so instead I opted to buy local produce that was available at Whole Foods (a chain grocery store).

Everyone wants to do their part and work to create less waste in their programming but there are some obvious challenges here. At Moishe Houses across the world we serve large communities with access to vastly different resources. I asked my residents what is preventing them from hosting more sustainable events and the answers were time and money.

Here are a couple ideas about addressing those challenges:


  • Asking community members for help with dish washing
  • Using less plastic may mean that you invest in a large amount of reusable silverware. Chat with your Regional Manager about using house budget for this purpose. 
  • Invest 10 minutes of a program to a single sustainability effort like recycling or composting


  • Moishe House is also here to help! Environmentalism is a Tikkun Olam pillar and we have a grant to help with your programming. Apply soon because this grant is given on a first come, first served basis! It will always take an investment, so invest wisely!

Do you have ways that your house has made its programming more sustainable? Have more ideas? Email me at

Want to continue the conversation? Post in the Moishe House Resident Facebook Group.