Posted by: Ilan Wagner on 3/6/2007 10:27:00 AM
This past winter, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, pioneered a new type of winter Israel experience: a program focusing on the thorny issues of sustainability in Israel. Eighty-four students immersed themselves in fascinating issues such as waste management, environmental justice, the impact of security on sustainability, desert agriculture and architechture and urban development. The central theme of the program was clear: Israel must develop in a sustainable fashion. Engaging students in this modern Zionist challenge has become the central motif of the Green Israel initiative of Hillel.
At the same time, as they learned about and were inspired by the challenge of sustainable growth in Israel, the participants noticed that the very trip they were on violated some key environmental principles. After all, they were flown across the ocean, driven around on buses for a week and ate off of plastic utensils and dishes for most of their meals. For many of them this cognitive dissonance needed to be addressed. Their response: a list of ways to conduct Israel trips in a more environmentally friendly manner.
The Greening of Israel trips begins during the planning stages: questions of transportation, lodging and intinerary should all be examined through a "green" lens. Orientation for Israel trips, the pre program that begins back on campus, should include a set of by-laws committing participants and organizers to certain environmental behaviors. Trips can prepare by calculating the carbon footprint of the intinerary and by purchasing carbon offsets for use in Israel. Fact sheets can be provided summarizing the anticipated environmental impact of the trip – travel, hotel stays, food cycle, etc.
Currently trip providers are expected to meet certain standards of Kashrut, safety and security. In essence, the Green trip students are advocating to add environmental standards to the trip provider's obligations. They have drawn up a sample agreement that would form the basis of the trip provider's environmental commmitments.
More specifically, the students present a wide array of suggestions, touching on all aspects of the Israel trip experience:Transportation:
more walking and biking, less bus riding, when buses are necesssary, minimize moter idling and use bio diesel buses when possible.Food:
pack lunch in bulk; minimize packaging, no Styrofoam products, restaurants are preferable to boxed lunches, make vegetarian option the default and count how many meat-eaters for “special meals”, Incorporate one token organic meal, include educational material regarding organics, No canned beverages; distribute heavy-duty water bottlesWaste Management:
bring recycling bins onto the buses;Lodging:
use camp out sites rather than hotels, work with a checklist on environmental policy with each hotel Intinerary:
Incorporate clean-up campaign into the program, and map out locations for depositing materials to be recycled.
(Thanks to Dr. Daniel Orentstein for his help in working with the students on this list)
The majority of Israel trips currently include few, if any, of these provisions. Adopting them would entail extensive changes in the way that business is currently done, and would certainly entail a financial cost. Who should bear the burden of these additional costs? Should these changes apply to every trip? Should Hillel take the lead in creating environmentally sound Israel experiences? Should it advocate for others to do so? Can we afford not to?
What is your perspective?
RE: Making Israel Trips Green
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