PLASTIC-BOTTLE people populate the path outside of Paniri’s place..
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Walk across the train tracks from Mahaneh Yehuda Street (the open side of the open market) into Meyuhas Street. If you glance down the second pedestrian street on your right, you will be confronted with a menagerie of flowers, creatures and various designs – all made out of disposable and discarded stuff!
What you are confronted with is the passion of Tovah Paniri, who has lived here on Moshe David Ga’on Street for the last 40 years.
“I had lots of flowers and plants – real ones – but they were all stolen,” she lamented to In Jerusalem.
“One day, I went with my sister-in-law to Geula and we saw big flowers like these,” pointing to her plastic-spoon bloom blossoms. When Tovah said how pretty they were, she was told that they were all made from plastic.
“‘From plastic?” she exclaimed – “and that’s how it all started.” She asked neighbors for their recyclable, potentially art-worthy trash – and she was inundated with more than she could handle.
Plastic waste is a disturbing and growing environmental problem, filling landfills, and littering and choking shorelines, rivers, coral reefs and sea life. And most plastic takes many years to bio-degrade. Paniri understands this, realizing that her hobby is a very small but appealing contribution to fighting this worldwide problem – or at least making people more aware of it.
Paniri – who is “approaching 70” – also volunteers to teach the neighborhood kids. “I would teach this for the Education Ministry also, but for pay – they have money,” she offers.
“It wouldn’t cost a lot – at least just enough to cover the cost of [non-discarded] materials!”
People who pass by say that they purposely come this way because it makes them happy to see Tovah’s recycled street art. So next time you’re at the shuk, stop by and take a look.
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