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Blue and white going green

69 ways you can change your household practices to protect the Israel you love (instead of just singing about it)

This year, we celebrate the achievement of surviving 69 years as a country inhabited by genetically argumentative people. Flags will fly, singers and dancers will do their thing, outstanding people will be honored and millions will go out on picnics to celebrate still being here.

The day before, we will stand with heads bowed as the siren for the fallen, for the battles fought and for the terrible personal price paid by so many for us being here.

And at the end of the day, the picnickers will go home and think about where we are heading as a nation. The cost, the effort, the hopes will lead to what future generations will inherit here. And the main product of the day will be….

…Landfill: one unholy utterly indefensible landfill. Celebrations in this country seem to be accompanied by an obligation to leave a vast amount of trash behind. We honor the fallen and then trash what they fought for. Whatever this country lacks in natural resources, it makes up for in plastic plates.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (stats from 2014), we throw away an average of 1.8 kg a person per day. That’s 5.4 million tons a year.

You can’t just throw stuff away. There is no “away.” Your trash will live on far into the future. What an inheritance we are preparing for our great-grandchildren.

Here’s what you can do. First, the short version: if you love this country, don’t just sing about it.

Now read the long version.

  1. Reduce the plastic already. Get some cheapo plates, even plastic ones and reuse them. Bring them clean, take them home dirty and wash them.

I’m taking a course where each week, two of the class members bring the mid-morning meal for everyone else. And each week, this lovely group produces two entire trash cans of garbage. I was the only one who said, can’t we use at least bio-degradables? Even at the end of the year get-together — IN SOMEONE’S HOME, we used plastic. My protests fell on deaf ears.

  1. Refuse plastic bags
  2. Take a cloth bag with you for a surprise purchase.
  3. Refuse a straw, ask for a glass.
  4. Refuse a straw with your glass.
  5. Don’t buy straws.
  6. At the pharmacy, put medicines in your pocketbook. Don’t take the plastic bag they offer.
  7. Find out where your local recycling center is. Look on this map to find yours.
  8. Learn more about what the Ministry of the Environment is doing for you.
  9. Hold them to it. These are the recycling plans.
  10. Recycle all your paper
  11. Recycle all your plastic
  12. Recycle all your metal
  13. Recycle all your broken appliances
  14. Recycle all your textiles
  15. And for the brave at heart, there is one, yes, one place in Jerusalem where you can take your non-deposit glass to recycle it, next to the cemetery at Givat Shaul.
  16. Other cities, have bins like the one here where you can recycle your glass easily along with all your other household refuse. Only Jerusalem does not. Please sign this petition if you’d like to recycle your household glass in Jerusalem and you’d like others to have the option of doing so, too.
  17. Come clean up Jerusalem on May 3. See the FB event link here.
  18. When you walk, pick up and recycle bottles from the street. You can always wash your hands afterwards.
  19. Walk
  20. Ride
  21. Go by public transport
  22. Hang your laundry out to dry
  23. If you are waiting for someone to join you in your car, turn off the engine.
  24. Ride-share
  25. Use both sides of your paper
  26. Get a water-saving device like this one for your shower. (Ours is phenomenal)
  27. Fill your washing machine before you put it on
  28. Fill your dishwasher before you put it on.
  29. Buy local — it saves transportation and packing pollution
  30. Dispose of your batteries in containers for that purpose. They pollute groundwater when they deteriorate.
  31. Dispose of out of date medicines at a pharmacy/health clinic. They pollute ground water when thrown into land-fill. Yes, your great-grandchildren will be drinking your old tablets.
  32. Clean up after your dog
  33. Read your news online (you can always pay a subscription to support freedom of the press)
  34. If you are a manufacturer, reduce the environmental cost of your products
  35. Stand next to your building trash can and shout at people who throw away recyclables
  36. Support green businesses and initiatives, artists like Tamar Rund that reuse building materials for their work, product makers like Zoe Apothecary who have zerowaste as a goal and of course, declutter your home using someone like Balagan Be Gone that is committed to green principles and of course Adam Teva and Din who campaign to keep our air breathable, our ground plantable and our water potable and, of course, anything solar.
  37. Grow food.
  38. Get your kids to grow food.
  39. Learn about http://leshomra.org/ that’s teaching Orthodox kids to grow food.
  40. Support your national parks
  41. Go to your national parks
  42. Leave your national parks or wherever you go, cleaner than when you found them.
  43. Go to the beach. Leave it cleaner. I think you may have understood this principle by now.
  44. Plant shrubs that butterflies love — like lantana or sweet Alice, plant anything with flowers — that’s for the bees
  45. Learn the names of butterflies, like the red admiral or the common painted lady:
  46. Go to Gazelle Park  look for da sweet bambi and then learn how the park improves the water quality of Jerusalem’s water supply. Plant a tree there.
  47. Go to the Israel Bird Observatory and learn about who’s a local and who’s a tourist. Plant a tree there.
  48. Become vegan — even one day a week
  49. Take a hot drinks cup with you.
  50. Take a reusable water container with you
  51. Avoid Styrofoam — it never but never breaks down. That foam packing from your delivery 28 years ago, it’s still out there. And will be for the next millennials to swear about.
  52. Stop buying bottled water. It is a highly destructive practice.
  53. Use both sides of your paper
  54. Get a composter
  55. Plant a tree
  56. Plant another tree
  57. Plant another tree. You get the idea.
  58. Use environment-friendly dishwashing detergent
  59. Use environment-friendly clothes detergent
  60. Run a hose straight from your washing machine to your building’s garden
  61. I would say plant a tree but I may have mentioned it already
  62. Put stuff out where other people can take it and repurpose it.
  63. Fix machines rather than replace them
  64. Help me find where I can get non-bleached toilet paper. Use it yourself. Not mine, yours.
  65. Avoid as much packaging as you can
  66. Get a Soda-Stream
  67. Stop looking at pictures of polar bears on melting ice-caps and change your household practices.
  68. And if all else fails, get a cloth flag for next year and stop with the plastic ones already.
About the Author
Helen Gottstein is a presentation training specialist and an actress. Presentation training and performances available for bookings in Hebrew and English. helengot@gmail.com
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