‘Cleaning Up’ Israel, one piece of garbage at a time

Students, volunteers across country pick up trash and take part in educational programs in honor of National Clean-Up Day.

National clean up day 311 (photo credit: Environmental Protection Ministry )
National clean up day 311
(photo credit: Environmental Protection Ministry )
Across the country on Tuesday, children and adults took part in this year’s National Clean-Up Day – picking up garbage, campaigning for cleaner greenery and participating in educational initiatives.
A bill stipulating an annual National Clean-Up Day was first passed in the fall of 2008. Although International Clean-Up Day occurs in the third week of September, the government decided to make Israel’s day in March – on the last Tuesday of the Hebrew month of Adar, to coincide with the Pessah-cleaning season.
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International “Clean Up the World” day was first instituted in Australia in 1993, and occurs in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Program, according to its website.
This year’s public activities in Israel were hosted by a wide range of organizations, including the Environmental Protection Ministry, Education Ministry, the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael-Jewish National Fund, the Clean-Up Israel group, schools, businesses and youth movements, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry.
“Clean-Up Day is an opportunity for us all to stop complaining about the litter around us and to get used to taking small steps that will improve the environment in which we live,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. “If everyone will throw his rubbish in the bin, we will all live in a cleaner and more pleasant environment.”
At the many events that occurred throughout the day, tens of thousands of volunteers participated in the cleaning efforts and collected 50 tons of garbage, the Environmental Protection Ministry reported.
Together with the Education Ministry and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Erdan’s office published and distributed environmental study kits to 4,000 primary schools with lessons on recycling, reducing consumption and transforming waste into resources, the ministry said.
The KKL-JNF hosted a clean-up in honor of the day, as well as a tree-planting at the Nahal Beersheba Park, also in conjunction with the KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference 2011 taking place this week.
About 150 leaders from the delegation and 150 Beersheba ninth-graders participated in cleaning up the area and then planted 200 trees, said a KKL-JNF spokeswoman.
Following these activities, KKL-JNF hosted an inauguration ceremony at their newly renovated Beit Eshel Project.
There, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler told the group that over the next four years KKL-JNF will invest NIS 3 billion in the Negev, according to the spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, just south of the Herzliya Marina, on Mandarin Beach, the German Embassy took part in an effort led by the Environmental Protection Ministry to clean up the nearby hills.
While the German group was the only foreign delegation to attend the event, also present were representatives from youth movements; Moshe Kaplinsky, the CEO of Better Place Israel; Rhoda Fischer, wife of Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer; and Chemi Peres, the son of President Shimon Peres, according to the ministry.
“There’s a lot of trash everywhere – they have equipment like plastic bags, gloves and instruments with which you can pick stuff up,” said Tjorven Bellmann, spokeswoman of the German Embassy.
“For us, we have environmental policy in Germany very high on the agenda and we have high standards of environmental protection,” Bellmann said. “So when the environmental minister invited embassies to take part, we thought it would be a great idea on a day like this, to make Israel a bit cleaner.”