The Big Felafel

Everything I’ve learned about recycling and trying to go green in Israel. Part 1: the big picture

As it turns out, Earth Day was yesterday, so I happen to be really on top of things without even being aware. I did know it was Earth Hour about a month ago thanks to Benji’s insight into a Tel Aviv event where stationary bikes powered a concert – highly amusing.

Going green is really trendy right now, at least in New York City which I visited less than 2 weeks ago, and slowly but surely, it’s starting to spread in Israel. I’ve always recycled my plastic bottles and papers without even thinking twice, but I never really ventured much beyond that. During my trip, it occurred to me that I could be trying a little harder. I noticed that during the course of hanging out with my friends in the big apple, the word tote starting popping up in conversations. “I have some extra totes, do you need one” “shoot.. I forgot my tote” This was the first time I heard my friends talking about totes and other things they’re doing to be more environmentally conscious.

So I joined in, packed a few totes and was determined to use them upon my return to Israel. However, when put to the test, I have to admit that cutting down on plastic bags in the shuk was not particularly easy. For one, plastic bags are one of the very few things you can get for free in Israel so people load up on plastic bags to their heart’s content. Personally, I couldn’t figure out how to weigh 30 tomatoes without using a plastic bag. Also, the fear of tomato juice forming at the bottom of my tote didn’t seem so appealing either. And I use the bags for garbage.. how does that factor in? I think I need an environmental coach to help me figure everything out. But, I’m not giving up, I will continue to use the tote as much as possible even though it doesn’t seem so practical at times. I’m open to suggestions on how to better use the tote. Now that we’ve said tote 7 times, I think we can move on – stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll show you how to get down and dirty aka where and what to recycle.

Here’s some articles and blogs that might inspire you to change your habits and some articles that may depress you as you learn about the state of our environment. Either way, just being aware of everything that is going on is a huge step forward.

Recent headlines featured the following environmental concerns:

Recent initiative:

Not-as-recent but cool initiative:

For daily reading on environmental tips, I recommend the following blogs:


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  1. * Benji says:

    At Tiv Ta’am here in TA, if you spend over 100 shekels, they give you a free tote. Does someone want to give away free chaserim every time we say “tote”?


    | Reply Posted 15 years, 1 month ago
  2. Shoot I need a tote too! I’ll have to venture out to Tiv Ta’am for my tote and naked charedim needs.

    Rebecca, it’s amazing what they’ll give you a bag for. I bought a carton of milk — bag. Got a tube of toothpaste — bag. Three oranges — bag.

    I say just carry it along for any purchase. Like you need a bag for those things. The shuk, as you know, is the place to bring your carry along thingy (I forget how to say it in hebrew). So, besides the fear of those juicy tomatoes, the tote is a great idea for general grocery store and pharmacy store trips.

    I need to get a tote. I’m a bag CONSUMER.

    | Reply Posted 15 years, 1 month ago
  3. * Hadassah( says:

    In the paper last week there was an article about the upcoming possibility that the ‘sackiot’ (plastic bags) may no longer be free in order to cause people to be more eco-aware… if we had the foresight we would begin a tote business now! :0)

    | Reply Posted 15 years, 1 month ago
  4. * haketem says:

    There is also a Jerusalemite Site for recycling stuff – Anything you don’t need just post it there and someone will come and get it.
    get it?

    | Reply Posted 15 years ago
  5. * Karen says:

    Hey Rebecca,
    Thanks for checking out Green Prophet and Crunchy Greenola! As far as buying CFLs in Israel goes… I think you can pretty much get them anywhere you’d buy regular lightbulbs. Word to the wise: get the yellow ones otherwise you’re stuck with harsh white fluorescent lighting. Good luck reducing your electric bill!

    | Reply Posted 15 years ago

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