Green Team

As climate change and environmental degradation threaten humans and other species across the world for generations to come, Congregation Beth El is obligated to speak up and take action. As a Jewish community, our core values lead us to understand that climate change, environmental injustice, habitat destruction, resource depletion, species extinction, and other human-caused ecological disasters are urgent spiritual and moral crises.

Beth El members have formed a Green Team to work on reducing Beth El’s collective carbon and environmental footprint and standing for environmental justice consistent with our traditions. We spearhead initiatives to:

  • Reduce fossil fuel use by our own facilities
  • Assist our congregation’s households in taking action to reduce their carbon footprint —  join our Green Challenge to count your actions on the JCAN platform
  • Support advocacy and awareness efforts to advance the goals of our Climate and Sustainability Resolution in defense of Creation and a livable resilient world

Have questions on solar, composting, heat pumps, advocacy, recent laws? Contact John Harper at to connect with a Green Team person.

Climate Mensch of the Month: Denise Nelken and Craig Ross

Changes we have made in the house and energy use

We have lived in our 1952 Cape style house for 36 years.  Over the years we have been able to do renovations and improve on the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems and have had several Mass Energy evaluations. We implemented new insulation, replacement windows and a new efficient gas water heating system. We had mini-split units put in so we can cool down separate areas of the house in warm weather and heat them in the winter.  By using fans to we can cool or warm first floor with one mini-split.  As our house is not a good candidate for solar panels we joined a solar program, called Inspire for our electrical source through Eversource. 

Changes we have made in household activities

We live in Natick and we have an excellent recycling program. For curbside pick up, we do mixed recycling, food waste recycling and fiber and household goods recycling. Craig and I were part of the experimental Food Waste program, which is done through Black Earth Compost and have reduced our garbage in half.   We also have a recycling center that takes latex paint, Styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, batteries, florescent and LED light bulbs, motor oil, metals, large plastic items like lawn chairs, as well as garden waste and wood.

We try to reuse things as much as possible.

1. I use the plastic bag that the newspaper comes in to pick up our dog waste on walks and beer cans and plastic bottles along the way.

2. We use cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

3. Old towels are used for the dogs to lie on or given to the animal shelters.

4. To reduce my paper towel use I use them more than once when possible and recycle them as food waste. I buy ones made from recycled paper that come in half sheets.

5. I buy recycled toilet paper, and computer paper.  There is a very good computer paper made from sugar cane fiber called Tree Zero.

6. I reuse cooking water and water from the dehumidifier to water the plants.

7. I hang laundry either outside in the summer or in the house in the winter. 

Changes we have made in the Garden

We compost leaf and grass clippings to use in the garden and use organic products.

I have planted milkweed and butterfly bushes and have had Monarch butterflies and several other species as well as honeybees and wild bees.

We have planted native species of plants and trees and have our trees evaluated every few years for pruning and stabilizing techniques.

We try to avoid invasive species of plants.

Changes we have made in our cars

I have had a hybrid Toyota Prius since 2010 and Craig now drives the Toyota Rav 4 hybrid.