Israelis are hospitable people. They like to serve lots of food. But they are also poor planners and even worse preservers. So much food gets thrown out while it’s still perfectly edible. How do I know? There was a time that I was so privileged/underprivileged that I needed to collect food at the garbage bins. Good food. Nothing revolting or unhealthy. I remember this bin close to a chic vegetable store. As soon as the new apples came in, the old ones went to the bin – still in perfect condition. When the worker saw me collect his former merchandise, he came out with a 5 kilo sack potatoes that he needed to throw out–clearly a lie not to embarrass me. I was not embarrassed. I did two commendable acts in one: feeding my family and preventing the wasting of good food.
Unfortunately, Israeli society is americanising. Perfectly good stuff gets thrown out because “we wanted something new” or “we want to be fashionable.” So many of the children’s clothes that my kids wore were “second hand” from the bin. I remember these princess dresses carefully piled up on the bin to be collected by a needy person that were in mint condition and my daughter’s size. So many Shabbats and Festivals she had fabulous dresses to put on. Great place with lots of variety and great prices: all for free. So many of my chairs, couches, rugs, beds and all kinds of house stuff were from these collection places at the same price.
(In Rechavia, the wealthy neighborhood of Jerusalem, people often put their handouts on the walls of their gardens. Ever a nicer place to collect food and books from. Good for them!)
Jerusalem doesn’t only have lots of collectables displayed at the bins. It also has a record number of poor people. (Poor people don’t need to feel shame about it. Rich people feel ashamed about being rich. In the end everyone feels bad about their financial situation, so stop feeling shame about it already.) Therefore, I heartily protest the intention of our municipality to start building underground garbage collection places. For what? So that the middle class doesn’t need to see or smell garbage bins? Guess what. Society is not only to serve the middle class and up.
The municipality has started feeding street cats. I wondered why. Now I know. So that the middle class will not feel bad about the cats starving when garbage is going to be put underground. But what about people starving? Many of the other collectors that I saw are Arabs. Are they less than cats? In these plans they are. And underground collection is just making every throw-out definite. So many times was I able to lift a plastic bottle from the bin to throw it in the plastic recycling bin placed next to it.
Therefore, no to underground garbage collection in Jerusalem!