What is Jewish About Recycling?

Why is it important to turn off the light switch when we leave a room? Recycle old bottles and magazines? Find new uses for our old toys and clothes rather than throwing them away? There's a Jewish value called bal taschit that tells us that we "don't destroy needlessly." There are lots of easy--and fun--ways that kids can learn about bal taschit--from recycled crafts, to books, to videos. 

Children recycling.


The books in this list show characters giving new life to old objects, pitching in to clean up, and working together to keep their neighborhood clean.

26 Big Things Small Hands Do

26 Big Things Small Hands Do
by Coleen Paratore

Recommended for ages 2 to 4

As you go through the alphabet, don’t forget the ABCs of mitzvot. Performing good deeds is something even the littlest among us can do.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
by Simms Taback

Recommended for ages 2 to 3

In this beloved Jewish folktale, Joseph’s old and tattered coat is recycled and takes the form of increasingly smaller articles of clothing.

Just a Dream

Just a Dream
by Chris Van Allsburg

Recommended for ages 8+

What would happen if we never stopped to care for our planet? Walter has a dream -- or maybe it’s a nightmare! -- that imagines such a world, just in time for Tu B’Shevat.

My Grandfather's Coat

My Grandfather's Coat
by Jim Aylesworth

Recommended for ages 5 to 6

Grandfather made himself a coat when he came to America -- and now it’s wearing out. What do you think he’ll do? (Hint: He doesn’t throw it out!)

Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand

Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand
by Arthur Levine

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Pearl loved her street. She loved the people on her street, and she loved the trees on her street — planted there by her mother years before. So when the city wants to cut them down, it’s time for Pearl to take a stand.

Something From Nothing

Something From Nothing
by Phoebe Gilman

Recommended for ages 3 to 5 Years

Joseph’s grandfather, a tailor, made him a blanket when he was a baby. As Joseph grows and changes, his grandfather makes the blanket change, too — into a jacket, a vest, a tie, even a button. What happens when the last of the blanket finally disappears?

Tikkun Olam Ted

Tikkun Olam Ted
by Vivian Newman

Recommended for ages 2 to 3

How can very young children participate in activities that make the world a better place? Little Ted shows us specific ways of participating in tikkun olam (repairing the world).


Enjoy a beautiful PJ Library story about bal taschit, then dive deep with the Sparks from BimBam and take a trip with Reading Rainbow:


Start a Compost Pile

Compost Pile

Composting is a great way to practice bal taschit and it's a fun, sensory, and scientific learning experience for kids too. Here are two great links with more information:

Composting: A Jewish Practice via MyJewishLearning
How to Make a Compost Pile in a Small Apartment via Forbes

Make Something New From Something Old


Do you have old tshirts lying around? Matzah boxes from Passover? A bunch of broken crayons? You can create something new from something old and enjoy some quality family crafting time too. In addition to the video above, here are some other ways to make something new from something old or broken:

Turn a Tshirt Into a Grocery Bag via Practically Functional
31 Things to Make With Plastic Bottles via DIYJoy

Plant a Garden

Grow your own veggies and plants. You can use seed packets, your PJ parsley seeds, or leftover food scraps from your own kitchen.


How does your family practice bal taschit? Share your stories with us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. Don't forget to add #pjlibrary to your post.