Aviva Zuller and Amit Bracha, Director of Israel Union for Environmental Defense
When I still lived in New York City before coming to live in Israel in 2009, my favorite day (besides Shabbat) was Thursday. That is because Thursday was our neighborhood recycling pick-up day. Every Thursday morning, I would be the first one out on the block to haul out my sorted metals, plastic and paper refuse to the curb. I was always very proud of the mounds of recyclables that I put out and made it a personal goal to have three times as many bags of sorted refuse than bags that were picked up and dumped in landfills. True to my degree in Ecology from Rutgers University and my position as program director at NY/NJ Baykeeper (one of NYC’s most effective environmental watch groups) I was the self proclaimed recycling queen of Boone Street in Staten Island, NY.
So when I arrived on aliya to Maale Adumim, my system went into recycling shock. Besides being in a new country with my four children and husband, and navigating the new universe of banking and medicine while attempting to acclimate to the language and very hot weather, I couldn’t find the recycling stations. I could clearly see the cages for plastic bottles and strange looking metal drums which seemed like they were for paper, but what about the rest? What “rest”, my neighbors asked. So I promptly explained that I was looking for the special dumpsters for metal cans, aluminum tins, foil, glass, cardboard and cartons. They smiled at me and told me all of those items were simply considered trash and belonged in the green frog dumpster stationed outside the apartment building. I couldn’t believe it. Over those first few weeks, I could just not rid myself of the sad feeling I felt every time I threw something recyclable away. I could not get past the fact that by making aliya, my lifelong dream, I had increased my carbon footprint and I was polluting the Land of Milk and Honey that I loved so much.
In hindsight, I think my severe reaction to the lack of sorting and recycling was probably my manifestation of the “wall” that many new immigrants hit when their systems are simply on overload from all of the life changes. And so, despite the guilt, I quickly settled down and acclimated to my new wonderful life in Israel, albeit void of recycling stations.
In the winter of 2010, I began to work at Adam Teva V’Din, Israel’s premier environmental advocacy organization, in donor relations and as the outreach coordinator for English speakers. It became my job to relate to our donors and supporters and to inform and educate my fellow environmentally minded Anglos in Israel and in the Diaspora. I was so proud to join the professional team of attorneys, scientists and urban planners who comprised Israel’s first line of defense against environmental hazards. But, what were we doing about the pathetic recycling situation?
It turns out a lot. Our recycling project, led by Gilad Ostrovsky, was the leading force pushing forward the recycling agenda in Israel. Supported by the generous funding of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, Adam Teva V’Din was applying a multi-pronged approach, authoring recycling legislation and lobbying for its passage, and working with municipalities to understand and plan for new regulations. This past February we had our biggest recycling victory yet with the passage of Israel’s Packaging Reduction Law which will make household refuse sorting mandatory for all municipalities across the country, financed by the manufacturers who will have to reduce packaging by 60% by 2020. And more legislation is coming down the pike, which will regulate how we dispose of our organic refuse as well.
And so I have been saved from my guilt and my aliya is now complete. I may have to wait a little to don my crown again as self proclaimed recycling queen, now of Maale Adumim, since not every municipality will be ready with the complicated and costly infrastructure needed to begin to collect sorted household refuse as soon as the new law comes into force in July. But I will be ready. To join me, download the general guide to sorting household refuse which can be found on the English section of the Adam Teva V’Din website www.adamteva.org.ilwebsite www.adamteva.org.il, but if notwww.adamteva.org.il, as a service to my fellow super recycling English speakers.
Aviva Zuller is responsible for donor relations and English speakers outreach at Donor Relations and English Speakers Outreach, IUED/Adam Teva V’Din. She and her family made aliya in 2009 from NYC and now reside in Maale Adumim.
Guide to sorting and recycling regulations for household refuse
The Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED- Adam Teva V’din) has published a downloadable guide in English that outlines the new sorting and recycling regulations for household refuse that most Israeli municipalities will be adopting starting this summer as part of the newly passed Packaging Reduction Law. Most municipalities in Israel already require residents to sort out paper and plastic, but as part of the new regulations, additional materials will be included like metals and glass. This free guide is available from Adam Teva V’Din which sponsored the bill.
The guide can be found on their website: www.adamteva.org.il/?CategoryID=420&ArticleID=1233