Lately, various petitions have been circulating on social media with the goal of making plastic tableware illegal in Israel. The problem with that is that this legislative approach fails to address the real underlying problems. More so than the use of plastic in Israel, the bigger issues are Israeli society’s lack of awareness and understanding of the implications of the pollution problem, and what the tendencies of certain groups to rush to legislative solutions say about the future of the country.
Banning plastic will not solve the litter and pollution problem, and government intervention will only breed more misunderstanding and resentment regarding the issue in the communities largely responsible for this phenomenon. Not to mention the indescribably problematic idea of politicizing an issue that by all accounts should span partisan lines.
The only way to truly address and solve the underlying causes of the pollution problem is to spur non-political social change. Every petition or article advocating the banning of mainstream products throws a wrench in the strides Israel has made over decades to liberalize its economy and encourage free markets. If we want less consumption of these products, we must appeal to the issue of the demand, not force a lack of supply.
Rather than speaking of wide scale campaigns geared toward specific demographics and promoting awareness and understanding of the truly problematic nature of this phenomenon, which as of today is only bothersome and clear to Israel’s social elites, it seems that the instinct of most is to rush to government intervention. This speaks to a much wider problem in Israeli society’s perception of socio- economics and the role of the state.
Rather than racing towards further empowerment of government, it is time for Israeli society to realize that the possibility for change, true and lasting change, lies in our hands, and to realize how problematic all- encompassing government intervention in the economy and the choices of the consumer can be.
Because right-wing economics in this country are so often synonymous with other right- wing agendas on topics ranging from security, approaches to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and religion and state, it seems that in order to be secular and socially liberal, you must also promote socialist values. This line of thinking is wrong, and has serious implications for the future of the state, because sometimes, issues will not be as clear cut as Israeli politics are. That is why we must separate those issues that are truly non- partisan from the political quagmire that is eating this country up. In this case, the cost of not doing so will presumably be the planet.