We all know the foul smell of burning plastic that lingers throughout the holiday following the burning of Chametz on erev Pesach. But why does this happen? And what can we do about it?
In this picture you can see a puzzle that my family received as a gift a few years ago. It’s a cute way for the kids to learn more about the practice of burning chametz. But this puzzle is unwittingly promoting another practice – burning plastic along with the chametz. Many people find it easiest just to toss their chametz into the fire, plastic bag and all. Maybe they’re concerned that it’s too hard to shake out all the crumbs. Many don’t realize that burning plastic is a bad idea.
Leshomra is making an effort to clarify this issue in our community.
First of all, it’s problematic to burn your chametz in a plastic bag from a halachic perspective. The plastic immediately melts, rendering the chametz inedible before it’s burned. It’s questionable whether you can fulfill the mitzva by burning inedible chametz.
Another point with serious halachic ramifications: fumes from burning plastic are toxic and dangerous to inhale. They can harm your health as you burn your chametz, as well as your neighbors in nearby homes, including babies, the elderly and people suffering from respiratory issues.
We haven’t even started on the environmental damage caused by releasing toxic gases into the atmosphere, but we teach these concepts to children participating in our green education program in Charedi schools and community centers. We learn why it’s important for every individual to take responsibility and avoid damaging the environment where possible. We learn to show consideration for others by not endangering their health or comfort.
At Leshomra, we’re working to spread this message with the hope that within 3-5 years,we’ll all be celebrating Pesach without chametz and without noxious plastic fumes.
You can help by sharing this message with friends and neighbors.
To share the Hebrew version of this message, click here.
Wishing you a happy and kosher Pesach,
Leshomra is the non-profit spearheading increased environmental awareness and connection with nature in the Charedi community. To earn more about Leshomra, click here.