By Alex Greenbaum
For the Month of June and July I did some traveling. I was in Israel for 10 days for birthright and then in Hilton Head, South Carolina for 5 days for the 4th of July weekend. Since sustainability is a passion of mine, I am always looking for how other states and countries attack their waste problem. In Israel I noticed there were not a lot of single-use plastics and a huge emphasis on reusable cutlery. Almost every hotel/hostel we stayed at had metal forks, knives, spoons, and reusable plates and cups. All the restaurants use reusable cutlery as well, there were very few instances of those packs of plastic cutlery being handed out. At one of the hotels we stayed at in Tel Aviv there was even a 4-bin setup with compost being one of the waste streams.
In the lobby of the same hotel, there was a coffee maker for guests to make coffee while they were waiting. Unlike in America, there were no single-use coffee cups for guests to use. Instead, they were glass reusable mugs and cups.
We went to a museum that handed out listening devices and headphones for museum-goers to be able to listen to their tour guide. At the end of every museum tour, the radios are collected and the headphones washed and recycled to be used again.
Finally, we went to the beach in Tel Aviv. On my way down to the beach, I noticed a bunch of large water cooler containers that were full of trash. I walked over and asked one of the employees what that was, and he told me that there was a 2-week period when they closed the beach and had all the employees walk around and pick up all the trash. They had multiple containers full of corks, cigarettes, and bottle caps and the beach was spotless
For the 4th of July weekend, I stayed in Hilton Head, South Carolina. One of the first things I noticed was that not a single store we stopped in had plastic bags for shoppers, one of the employees told me that there were no single-use plastic bags on the whole island, the only options were paper or bring your own bag. After doing some shopping we went to the beach, where I noticed there was almost no litter on the beach. I asked a lifeguard how it was so clean, and he pointed me to a large wooden stake with a sign on it and some baskets. Beach goers are encouraged to take a basket and fill it with any trash or litter they see on the beach, empty the litter into the trash bin, and then return the basket to help keep the beach clean.
There are many things people, businesses, and institutions can do to limit the amount of waste they produce, these are just some examples of what other places are doing. Reusables over single-use plastics, no plastic bags in sight, beach cleanups, and reuse of equipment are simple and easy implantations that can limit waste and litter.