Consumables is any object that is purchased for use in the building. The question is usually not “what can we get rid of?” but “how much?” Synagogues are natural repositories for old and outdated technologies. The custom of congregants donating their old stuff “because maybe the synagogue could use it” is an old motif.

A new motif is necessary in an age of rapid climate change. An American proverb captures the old/new sentiment, “waste not, want not.” The synagogue only accepts and keeps what is clearly uses. (No more “maybe we’ll use this . . .”) Processes that use consumables also need to be examined. What is clearly no longer dear or worthwhile does not need to be funded. By example, many congregations have moved from paper bulletins to online bulletins, meaning every object associated with the bulletin production should be eliminated from the budget and from office spending.

The average office contains over a hundred different objects, of which many are not relevant to the daily work of the synagogue. Fax machine technology went out of date over a decade ago, replaced with electronic records, yet, thermal fax paper is still available for purchase. To consume less, the synagogue must make a conscious effort to purchase less.

In a time of plenty and of ignorance about climate change, four-color glossies were the epitome of marketing materials. Placing a homegrown service inside a glossy cover gave the document more legitimacy. Unfortunately, glossies are not recyclable, nor do they degrade easily in the landfill. The beginning of a consumables’ assessment is a listing of what technologies does the synagogue use. Which old processes can be abandoned or should be abandoned? The organizational principle is learning how to do congregational tasks smarter, and with less of a carbon footprint.

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