Authors: Dorit Kerret and Alon Tal

Abstract

While the environmental impacts of religious and secular holidays are increasingly characterized, interventions to reduce their effects are modest and poorly understood. Israel’s L’ag B’omer holiday has emerged as a major air pollution source due to the common practice of lighting bonfires. We implemented and evaluated an intervention amongst Israeli school children in which they were challenged to design and adopt alternative “environmentally friendly” celebrations that maintained the holiday spirit. The interventions were observed and a mixed method approach applied to study implementation involving, interviews with teachers, parents and students as well as an ex-post questionnaire answered by participants. Children supporting environmental celebrations displayed higher levels of environmental behavior, and environmental hope than those preferring bonfires. Those who voted for an environmental alternative, against the majority, also displayed higher levels of self-control skills. The study confirms the potential of well-designed, environmentally friendly holiday celebrations to replace environmentally deleterious ones.

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology