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Jains Go Green

e-Jain Digest I e-Jain Digest October 2009 

Jains Go Green

Hetal & Suken Jain

Hetal works in the Climate Program Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington, DC. She is a technical advisor to the director. Hetal has had a personal and professional interest in environmental issues for over a decade. Suken is attending the MBA program at Georgetown University. He has been active with the Jain Center of Southern California and YJA. He helped organize YJA Convention 2000 in Los Angeles.

One who neglects or disregards the existence of earth, air, fire, water and vegetation disregards his own existence which is entwined with them.

– Lord Mahavir

Lord Mahavir stated these words thousands of years ago, and they ring as true today. Jainism teaches us to take care of ourselves, our planet, and all living beings. Many climate-related changes are already being observed globally and within the United States, including changes in air and water temperatures, sea level, freshwater supply, frequency and/or severity of intense hurricanes and heavy downpours, loss of sea ice, etc. Scientific studies show that we are already expecting to the sea level to rise one meter over the next hundred years which could devastate many coastal communities. This prediction could be an underestimate if we continue to increase our greenhouse gas emissions. While one person may not be able to stop or reverse climate change, it is our Jain and civic duty to do our part.

There are a number of things that can be done on the individual, community and national level. First, at the individual level there is a wide range of simple actions we can all take. Basic things include replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones (CFLs), keeping car tires inflated and taking our own reusable bags to the grocery store instead of using plastics bags. Other easy but bigger actions include installing solar panels on our houses. All across the United States, especially in California and Arizona, solar panels are being heavily subsidized through government tax credits and are even a large cost savings in the long run.

Each individual action seems minor, but collective individual actions can have significant impacts. For example, if every family in the United States changed one light bulb to an energy efficient bulb, we would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 90 billion pounds which would be the equivalent of taking over one million cars off the road! Each of us should think globally, but act locally, which translates to making a difference in our communities. A great place to start is our own Jain communities. Our Jain temples regularly use disposable products, including Styrofoam and plastic utensils, which are made from petroleum and pile up in landfills, but there are affordable alternatives. Also, we can opt to power our Jain Centers from renewable power sources by talking to the utility companies. As new temples are built or renovated, we can look into green building practices and becoming LEED certified. These practices use fewer raw materials, less water, less energy, and lower utility costs. We need to educate our leaders so that our Jain Centers can become an example for the communities we live in. We can carry these same messages to our schools or workplaces to make an even bigger impact.

On a national level, we can become educated about the policies of our Congressional representatives. Ask them to support polices that will help us solve our problems related to climate, energy and the environment. Talk to friends and family across the country and encourage them to take these same actions since the greater the number that emulate this vision that Lord Mahavir espoused, the greater the effect we can all have in protecting all living beings.

So of the countless things you can do, where do you start and where can you get more information? In 2007, Jains Go Green was created to help people make a personal commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly and follow the words of Lord Mahavir. It also provides resources for actions to take at the individual, local and national level. Visit to start becoming more environmentally aware today and take action now!

Anil Sheth says on Nov 23, 2009

Now a days so many jain temples are under construction, their trusties should be thinking about solar energy.  In future temple maintainance expense sould be cutting , future is bright for temple maintainance. Try to use reusable plastic plates, instead of paper or foms.

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