03/24/2011 06:08

Life and Environment NGO to present this year’s seven “Green Globe” winners – and “a black one.”

Amiad Lapidot spent November 2004 knocking on his neighbors’ doors in Moshav Kerem Maharal on the Carmel, distributing buckets to collect organic waste he then turned into compost for his farm. Nearly seven years later, his model for organic waste separation has been made available to more than 15,000 households across Israel, with the support of the Environmental Protection Ministry.

“My mission in life is to create a model of sustainability,” Lapidot said.

“How can we live today without harming the next generation?” Lapidot is one of the seven recipients of this year’s Green Globe awards, to be presented Thursday afternoon in Tel Aviv at an event coordinated and produced by Life and Environment, the umbrella organization for numerous Israeli environmental NGOs. Various cabinet ministers, several mayors and representatives from the environmental world are expected to attend, according to Naor Yerushalmi, executive director of Life and Environment.

“[Judges] sit and go over all the candidates and decide on who will receive the awards – both the green awards and the black one,” Yerushalmi said.

The “black one,” he explained, is given to the organization that in, in the judges’ opinion, has done the worst job in caring for the environment.

For the fourth time in the event’s eight-year history, it will be combined with Israel’s celebration of International Earth Hour Day.

“We’re combining the Green Globe with [the wider event] to empower the day and to bring more content and substance to this day, to make it a national green day,” Yerushalmi said. “It’s an Israeli green day. Everybody in Israel – municipal sector, business sector, everybody.”

In addition to Lapidot, this year’s Green Globe winners are Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan, Yuki Gil of Shoresh Company Ltd., a group of residents struggling to protect nature in the Timna Valley, an environmental education project of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) in the Negev Beduin community, the Environmental Unit of Ra’anana-Kfar Saba, and Yoram Shefer, who chairs Ashkelon’s environmental committee.

The “black award” is being given to Oil Shale, a branch of the Israel Energy Initiative, chaired by philanthropist Michael Steinhardt.

“There were around 10 options and [the judges] selected this as one of the most potentially hazardous to environmental health and nature these days in Israel,” Yerushalmi said. “This would be another regular environment campaign, but the twist here is that one of the [backers] is Michael Steinhardt, a real Zionist, a real lover of Israel, a supporter of the environment.”

A letter to this effect, signed by Yerushalmi on behalf of Life and Environment, Amit Bracha, executive director of Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and Kosha Pakman, executive director and CEO of SPNI, was sent to Steinhardt about 10 days ago. They say they hope to receive a response soon.

But back on the greener side of things, Yerushalmi said he was particularly enthused about certain winners – including Lapidot.

“Today, 47 cities are starting garbage separation according to his vision as a project with the support of tens of millions of shekels by the Ministry of Environmental Protection,” Yerushalmi said. “It all started with this guy walking around with his bucket.”

In addition to his work on compost, Lapidot built a house for his family out of straw belts and soil bricks. The house doesn’t require air conditioning in the summer, barely needs heat during the water and collects dew water at night.

His next goal is a “zero waste” mission in Israel, meaning that all garbage would be compostable or recyclable, according to the “four Rs”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and now, according to Lapidot, “Refuse,” a reference to the belief that we should avoid using anything that’s not reusable or recyclable.

Another winning project praised by Yerushalmi is the environmental education venture by SPNI, which primarily targets Beduin elementary school students in the Negev and is run by Ronit Zeevi.

Two focal areas of the project are the Abu Basma regional council – which includes Beduins living outside of established towns – and Rahat, Zeevi said. In 27 schools, instructors from SPNI and Beduin high school students trained by the organization work with over 3,000 youngsters to teach them such healthy ecological practices as growing plants and proper procedures for trash.

“What we are trying to do is make the environment a bridge and not a gap,” Zeevi said. “The environment is for everybody and if we know how to treat it properly it will treat us back properly.”