When I moved to Israel I started to understand, that not everywhere in the world things are going the same way. I grew up in Germany, where the convenience of a quiet and more or less unworried life, enables politicians to talk and act in terms of environment. Water saving, recycling and other environmental issues were familiar to me and my friends. I never really thought about it, it was just part of my daily life.
Due to this background, my first shopping tour in the small super market around the corner of my apartment in Tel Aviv was a big surprise. The cashier took all my things and stuffed them in several plastic bags. Taking her job seriously, she used at least 5 bags for the few things, to be sure that none of my bags will rip. Finally I ended up with 5 bags (one carried only my organic eggs, which by the way were wrapped in Styrofoam) for which I didn’t even have to pay a single cent.
Still this was nothing compared to what followed during my first visit at Shuka Karmel, the vegetable market in Tel Aviv. Overwhelmed by the oriental way of bargaining, the shouting and the huge balagan, I followed my boyfriend, watching him dealing with the shop owners. But again, each sort of vegetable went straight to it’s own plastic bag, and all of them in the end together in a larger bag.
Now, despite all the ways of recycling you can find for plastic bags, I drowned in them already after a short while.
Pulling the emergency stop, I remembered what I learned at home and tried to fit it to my new home. My first step was my good old cotton bag, which I always took with me for shopping. For me it is such a normal thing, which always was part of my shopping life. Maybe not, only because of the advice of my organic-addicted mum, but also because each plastic bag cost me in Germany around 30 cents. Even though that’s not an incredibly high price, still you think twice and prefer to bring your own bag than to spend the money every time. It is just so much easier.
I guess one of the first Hebrew sentences I learned was: “Ani lo zricha sakit!” which means: I don’t need a bag. Now after a while, the cashiers in my small supermarket know me and don’t offer me a bag anymore.
Later on I tried to take all my old plastic bags to the market, or I collect all of the vegetables in a box, carrying them like this to the cash. It didn’t work out as well as I thought, because the guy on the cash didn’t want to give up for his own convenience to weigh the products part by part in bags.
Amazed by this plastic-bag behaviour, I had some discussions with Israeli friends. Most of them agreed with me, but never thought about it before. The news of Haaretz (posted by Karin in Treehugger) and this article of Ynet show, that there are changes going on and that the plastic bags issue is gaining importance. Good news.
Still I understood by this, that the awareness of environment is different in each country. Now that climate change is everywhere in the media, I am sure that more and more people will talk about this issue, but there is still a lot to do. For this I believe that especially education is very, very important. Then everyone can do some small changes in his daily life. You don’t need to be a green-junkie that grows his own food, has a compost on the balcony and just wears cloth from the organic cotton of the Galilee (even though it is an option), but small things can be easy to do — like shopping with your own bag.