It can work here, too

Customers very quickly got used to the new regulation and as a direct result their environmental consciousness increased.

When Irine Inbar-Eisinger of Kibbutz Evron heard about the proposed law she decided to introduce it at her kibbutz. Inbar-Eisinger began a campaign to kibbutz residents on the reasons for the law. She wrote an article in the kibbutz newspaper that showed the facts and figures of damage caused by plastic bags, explained that Eilat's coral reef was dying as a result of plastic bags, and highlighted the costs incurred to the local council per ton of waste that goes into a landfill - much of which is made up of plastic bags and other recyclables. A committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal. In December 2007, the supermarket at Kibbutz Evron began charging NIS 1 per plastic bag. Two "Green" bags were provided to each kibbutz resident and more were made available for sale at the supermarket. At first, some customers found remembering their recyclable bags difficult. They frequently did their shopping during their lunch breaks and didn't always remember to take the Green bags with them to work in the morning. Besides that, many did not own cars, so they couldn't keep Green bags in the backseat for unplanned trips to the supermarket. Nevertheless, customers very quickly got used to the new regulation and as a direct result of the constant reminder of how damaging plastic bags were, their environmental consciousness increased in other regards, Inbar-Eisinger told Metro. Residents began broaching other "green" ideas. Some suggested ways to cut down plastic waste in the kibbutz factory and other mentioned alternative bags that could be used in the laundry. Residents also had the regular plastic supermarket bags - that take 500 years to biodegrade - replaced with bags made from corn, that biodegrade in less than half that time. "One kibbutz member told me," relates Inbar-Eisinger, "that she voted against the regulation because she thought she would never get used to remembering her Green bag. 'But it's amazing,' she told me, 'after two weeks, I got so used to it that it became part of my routine. I once forgot to take it and I felt so guilty [because I now understand the environmental damage of using plastic bags].'" Like Olander, Inbar-Eisinger said that an advertising campaign on television, radio and the Internet would be a great way of impacting the public's environmental awareness. But the best way to change their behavior is via their purse. "When we started charging NIS 1 at the kibbutz, people said it was too expensive and asked why we couldn't make the price lower," Inbar-Eisinger said. "[I explained to them that] when you pay 99 agorot for something you don't feel that you've paid, and then [after multiple purchases] you realize it was very expensive. But I don't want to earn money off you. I want you to avoid spending it [in the first place]." Inbar-Eisinger is positive that the success she witnessed in her kibbutz would easily transfer to the wider Israeli population. All it would take is "education, education, education," she stresses. "When people understand how damaging their incessant use of plastic bags has been, they'll not only get used to using their Green bags, but they'll support the reason behind the law," she asserts, adding that "we live in a very small country, so if we don't look after the environment, we'll end up using all our free space on landfills instead of parks."