Bal Tashchit

בל תשחית

Water Torah

 

Bal Tashchit  בל תשחית (literally “Do Not Destroy”) is a fundamental ethical principle in Judaism.  It is based on the Mitzvah in Deuteronomy 20:19–20 which says it is forbidden to cut down fruit trees.  The Talmud expanded the concept of Bal Tashchit to include all forms of senseless damage or waste.  It has become a central aspect of the ethical character of the Jewish people.  Today, the destruction of the ocean and waterways of the world through pollution, single-use plastic products, and simple carelessness represent a blatant violation of the ethical principle of Bal Tashchit.

Marine Debris

As we dive, snorkel, boat, kayak, or just stroll the beach enjoying the beauty of the sea, all too often we are accosted by human garbage. Our oceans, rivers, and lakes are littered with the cast-off rubbish of humans.

 
Where Does It Come From?

Image Source: 4Ocean

Where Does It Come From?

The trash in our daily lives does not stay where we intend it to go. Over 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources. Pieces of litter fall into storm drains and make their way to our seas. Similarly, items that blow into a river wash hundreds of miles to the big blue. Other forms of marine debris come from sea-based sources. Boats purposely or accidentally dispose of garbage at sea, or fishery boats don’t properly ensure their nets and lines make it back to shore.  Plastic is one of the most common items found in marine environments.

We have no concrete knowledge on how much trash is in our waters, because of the immense size of the ocean, and the fact that so much debris falls to the ocean floor.

What Does It Do?

Image Source: NOAA

What Does It Do?

Marine animals can often mistake trash as prey, or accidentally ingest microplastic. The smallest organisms (plankton), the largest animals (blue whales), the ecosystem (coral reefs), the apex predators (sharks), and everything in between has been affected by marine debris. 100% of sea turtle species, 25% of seafood market fish, and 59% of sea birds have been found to be contaminated by plastic through ingestion. The chemicals from the trash can bioaccumulate through the food chain, resulting in high quantities of toxins in marine mammals and sharks. However, the perils of trash don’t stop there. Debris such as nets and lines can entangle and smother organisms and ecosystems. Derelict fishing gear, often resulting in ghost nets, can continue to catch fish and other animals as they drift along the sea.

Our Service 

Tikkun HaYam Fights Against Marine Debris

 

Dive Against Debris

Twice a month, divers are taken out on our boat (Ally’s Way) to clean our adopted reef (St. Petersburg Downtown Reef). Check out images of our clean ups here, and find our debris data here.

Kayak Clean ups

Tikkun HaYam uses kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkels to get deep into mangrove roots to remove trapped debris which harms the juvenile species that use mangroves as their homes.

Reverse Tashlich

Our fourth annual Reverse Tashlich will take place on September 12th, 2021. Communities around the world will clean up their local waterways and parks to remove their sings from the world. 

Reusable

Items

To minimize the widespread use of single-use plastics we offer a line of "Re-Jews-able" products. Additionally, we create Judaica from recycled plastic in house from our plastic shredder and 3D printer.

What Can You Do?

 

The number one thing we can do to keep trash from our ocean, is reduce the debris we create. We can very easily say no to single use plastics, such as straws, plastic water bottles, and plastic utensils. You can easily bring your own mug and bottle with you, take shopping bags with you, or use reusable containers to store food. As consumers we can make change by not buying items in plastic, and instead opting for glass, cardboard, or other reusable or compostable options.

Additionally, we can make sure the debris we do make is properly disposed of. Ensure that you’re recycling when possible, to keep plastic out of the ocean, and limit the amount of new debris made.  You can find a recycling station here.

Our Dive Against Debris programs contribute data to Project AWARE about the trash that is going into the ocean, join our dives to learn more!

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