People hold candles during Earth Hour.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)
While more casually celebrated this year than last, due to the culmination of Passover, Earth Day celebrations still managed to turn many Israelis green this Tuesday.
Earth Day, which occurs annually on April 22 since 1970, brought together about 1 billion people and more than 22,000 partner organizations in 192 countries, according to the Earth Day Network, a Washington, D.C.-based NGO that coordinates Earth Day events globally.
Last year, big events like Israel’s annual Green Globe award ceremony took place on this day, and many municipalities shut off their lights for an hour that evening for international Earth Hour.
This year, however, Earth Day events in Israel took place on a much more local level rather than on a national scale.
“This Earth Day and Earth Hour are celebrated only on a local or organizational basis, not as a national event,” Naor Yerushalmi, the CEO of Life and Environment – the umbrella group for all of Israel’s environmental organizations – told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Among the events that took place this Earth Day included a Ness Ziona municipal event on Tuesday evening about star observation, featuring a movie, a lecture and shutting off the lights for an hour. Binyamina’s Solar Garden, meanwhile, held family activities, films and lectures over the course of the day, while Golan Heights residents protested oil drilling within their bounds. Hof Hasharon held various tours and lectures throughout the day and hosted a lights-out hour at 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening.
Also on Tuesday night, members of the Israel for Bicycles Association took to the streets of Tel Aviv aboard bikes, roller blades and other forms of environmentally friendly transport – with participants bedecked in green attire. Other informational Earth Day events also took place in Beersheba and in Haifa.
Members of the nationwide Green Course student movement took part in various Earth Day events throughout Israel, such as many of the previously listed, and worked on recruiting people to their cause.
Lifelong activist and American- Israeli solar entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz – who said he is seriously considering a presidential run and has an active campaign on Facebook – pledged to double monthly contributions for the next year of the first 20 people to donate to Green Course that day.
Also on Earth Day, the Jerusalem municipality released 2013 recycling data for the municipality, reporting a 60 percent increase in recycling for the year.
While in 2012 only 40,922 tons of trash were recycled, the following year featured 65,881 tons of recycled waste, the city said.
In addition, the city reduced the amount of garbage transferred to landfills by 882 tons, from 361,639 tons in 2012 to 360,757 tons in 2013.
Around the world, on average, trash transfer to landfills increased by 5 percent between the two years, the Jerusalem municipality said.
The municipality attributed the positive figures to a strategic plan launched by Mayor Nir Barkat to make Jerusalem the greenest city in the country, through which more than 3,000 collection containers for various types of recyclables have been installed.
“The strategic plan we initiated will transform Jerusalem in the coming years into the country’s leader and example for other cities in the field of recycling,” Barkat said. “The sharp increase in recycling proves that we are on the right path.”
Although scheduling national Earth Day and Earth Hour celebrations did not fit in well with the Hebrew calendar this year, Yerushalmi said that municipalities throughout Israel were able to celebrate the day’s importance in a more humble manner.
The 11th annual Green Globe ceremony – known as Israel’s Oscar for environmental work – also has not been forgotten, Yerushalmi said.
Sharing Knesset Environment Day rather than Earth Day this year, the Green Globe accolades will be awarded in the Chagall Hall of the Knesset, on June 10, he said.