Spotlight on environmental organizations in Israel

Greetings.  This is the first installment of an occasional series brought to us by our new blog writer Simon Marriott.  Every so often, Simon is going to profile one of the hundreds of Israeli environmental organizations.  This week Simon profiles Tevanaki (טבע נקי or “Clean Nature”), an organization in which he himself is active:

Tevanki was founded in 2004 as a result of a radio program hosted by Rafi Shavit.  Rafi loves traveling around the country with family and friends, both local and visiting from abroad. In the program he talked about ashamed he is of all the rubbish they find. At the end of the program he gave out his phone number.

Of the hundred or so phone calls he received after the show he replied to as many as he could and in return got more contacts by e-mail. Soon afterwards he organized a meeting at his office. Most of the twenty people who showed up are still active members in an organization that now boasts several hundred members.

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From the start the idea was to have clean up days in resorts, parking areas, parks, river banks and so on. But soon he realized that it was not enough; the littering culture was, and still is, too strong in Israel. After taking part in National Clean-up Days and organizing several other cleaning sessions in the north of Israel Tevanaki decided to change tactics.

What they did was to put pressure on institutions to promote the idea of keeping public areas clean through education and example, as well as bringing the subject of cleaning open areas to the attention of the general public.

To that end meetings were arranged with various bodies connected with the Ministry of the Environment including a special meeting with the minister.

Now the Israel Nature and National Parks Authority (INNP), which is under the wing of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the Council for a Beautiful Israel give invaluable assistance by providing rubbish bags, cars, an escort, and places to have meetings.

One group, the one that I belong to, has adopted the Carmel National Park as it’s pilot project. There is a Saturday roster and we go from parking area to parking area talking with picnickers, walkers, and cyclists explaining what we are trying to do and handing out large rubbish bags as well as cleaning up the area. We ask people to take their rubbish home with them as wild animals and birds can tear open the bags pulling them from bins and skips scattering rubbish all over the place.

Initially Tevanakis activities were confined to the north of Israel, but not so long ago they started to spread their wings. With the help of Hillel Glazman, INNP man and member of Tevanaki, contacts were made with other regions and various activities organized. The idea is that volunteers are able to stay in their own region to do clean-ups etc. giving more time on site, helping to create greater enthusiasm (on the tenet of keeping your own back yard clean) and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

All Tevanakis’ activities are voluntary and they receive no funding. When money is needed for a specific project it is usually donated by the members themselves.

Tevanaki is THE address for voluntary organizations and individuals to contact if they want to organize a clean-up.

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