Service Learning- Tote Bags


Jewish Value: Ba’al Tashchit (not wasting)


The tote bags you are making out of t-shirts will be donated to Living Classrooms. These reusable bags will assist with their annual Thanksgiving food distribution to local families. According to their 2019 annual report, Living Classrooms serves over 34,000 children, youth, and adults and supports them in areas including education, workforce development, health & wellness, and violence prevention.

What is Ba’al Tashchit? The Jewish commandment of Ba’al Tashchit means do not waste or destroy. It is a value that is relevant in many aspects of our lives: food waste, clothing & apparel items, nature, and more. With the environmental crisis taking place, it is crucial that humans take this commandment seriously and do our part to create a more sustainable world.  Check out the links below to learn more about this meaningful Jewish value.


Why is this project important? In 2018, about 146.1 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste were landfilled. Food was the largest component at about 24 percent. Plastics accounted for over 18 percent, paper and paperboard made up about 12 percent, and rubber, leather and textiles comprised over 11 percent. Other materials accounted for less than 10 percent each. ( 


Try this activity!

When you have something you no longer want, you have a few options of what to do with it: donate it for someone else to use, re-purpose it into a new item of use, or throw it away. Look through the list of items below and label each one as “donate,” “re-purpose,” or “throw away.” An answer key containing our suggestions of what to do with these items is below.

  1. Clothes that are too small but in good condition
  2. Broken toys
  3. T-shirt from an event you attended
  4. Open food
  5. Opened travel-sized toiletries
  6. Un-opened non-perishable food


How did you decide which items should be donated, re-purposed, and thrown away?

What kind of clothing would you want to receive as a gift?

Why might someone feel uncomfortable wearing a t-shirt from an event which they did not attend?

What are some items in your home that you would like to donate or re-purpose?

Answer key!

  1. Donate
  2. Throw away–if they are no longer fun for you to play with, they will not be fun for someone else.
  3. Re-purpose–someone else might feel uncomfortable wearing a shirt from event they did not attend.
  4. Re-purpose if you can–consider making a meal which can be donated, using the open food as an ingredient.
  5. Use or throw away–once toiletries are open, they are not safe to donate.
  6. Donate


Go Deeper: Learn more about recycling and repurposing.


Related Readings:

  • Preschool/elementary aged children: 
    • Joseph had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback 
    • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss 
    • Made by Maxine by Ruth Spiro
    • The Life of a Little Cardboard Box by Igloo Books 


  • Instead of throwing toys, clothes, and household items away, visit a Buy/Sell/Trade group on social media to see who in the community could use it. 
  • When you need something like bigger coats, a new book, or a “new to you” toy, visit a “Buy Nothing” group to see if you can find it. 
  • Ask neighbors/friends or local shelters and organizations if they’d like the extra food items that you cannot use, whether you have too much basil growing in the backyard or you bought too many yogurts to eat before they expire. 
  • Recycled crayons: 

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