Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv’

Taglit-Birthright Israel, what an amazing experience. Any qualified candidate for this program is an absolute fool if they don’t take advantage of it. There are so many different types of trips that cater to different preferences (anything from Orthodox-based to outdoor inspired biking ventures) that it’s almost silly. Please, go if you can.

This post is actually a follow up to something I wrote a few months ago titled, “Is Tel Aviv a Sustainable City?“. While I was traveling I kept a close eye out for signs of sustainability across the country. After looking at my notes (scribbled throughout my tattered Moleskine), it looks like my report is fairly optimistic. Talking to our tour guide, I learned that even though the “green movement” hasn’t quite hit Israel yet, the framework is certainly there. The country, through it’s remarkable technological resources and innovations, continues to draw in solar and energy-related companies, and it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before a tipping point sends Israel to the forefront of the sustainable movement.

Two particular things I noticed:

1) Many of the places that we stayed have toilets with two options for flushing. The smaller button produces a water flow just great enough to flush liquids, while the larger button, well, it gets rid of the bigger stuff. I had quite a fun time experimenting with both! It seems like this technique saves a lot of water, which in Israel is certainly a concern. The Sea of Galilee, which supplies roughly 30% of Israel’s water, is drying up more and more each year. Israel, the founder of drip irrigation – which saves a significant amount of water – is definitely ahead of the game when it comes to water conservation. I haven’t heard about this toilet technique anywhere else in the world…have you?

2) Strewn throughout the country are several large recycling areas for plastic bottles. The bins, usually placed on street corners, are supported by Aviv Recycling Ltd. The site explains that up to 50 such constructions exist in a given municipality. I saw another web address on the outer label, but the site is completely in Hebrew. Can any of our readers, or other authors, translate this (http://www.ela-el.com)?

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Hopefully I’ll have a better idea when I’m there in – let’s see here – just about three weeks! After graduating college, I have one day to pack up my apartment and drive 4 hours back to Nashville, where I will be leaving the next morning for New York City. A bunch of college buddies are joining my brother and I on a Birthright Israel trip; since 2000, this organization has been sponsoring free, 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish adolescents.

My brother and I extended our trip home and plan to spend a few extra days visiting a friend on a kibbutz between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. When I started doing research on the area, I was interested to come across a TreeHugger article that discusses the sustainability of Tel Aviv as a city.

Back in 2006, David Pearlman of the Heschel Center addressed 50 American and Canadian citizens in a 10-day tour of the city that was sponsored by North American philanthropists eager to promote awareness for environmental issues in Israel. Yet while the article discusses environmental concerns (air pollution, for example), I was reminded yet again how ubiquitous the term sustainability can be. Sustainability, as I recently have come to understand, is a vague and often misunderstood term that spans a wide variety of disciplines and philosophies. In this case, the question is posed – What makes a city sustainable?

Did you know, for example, that – according to Pearlman in 2006 – Tel Aviv is the only city where a Starbucks opened and then closed? I wonder how important the coffee business is to Tel Aviv’s overall sustainability, but an interesting fact nonetheless. Also, I found it intriguing that although there are plenty of bicycle lanes, few bikers exists due to a lack of suitable road signs.

There are a number of considerations involved in assessing a city’s (or project’s or product’s, etc.) sustainability, aside from the oft-quoted environmental consequences. Throughout his tour, Pearlman makes sure to incorporate social issues with his environmental-based teachings in an effort to illustrate that sustainability is more than a one dimensional, environmental concept.

A well written article indeed. I look forward to getting a firsthand glimpse of Tel Aviv in the near future; I’ll post a follow-up upon my return.

(picture courtesy of Two Thumbs on flickr)

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