Israel Environment Bulletin Spring 1997-5757, Vol. 20, No. 2


The Ministry of the Environment has launched its most ambitious cleanliness campaign ever in an all-out effort to stop littering once and for all. Statistics show that some 200 tons of garbagefrom plastic bags to beverage containersare thrown along Israel’s roadsides every year. In 1996, the Public Works Department spent NIS 4 million ($1.17 million) to collect this waste alone. The Jewish National Fund allocated another NIS 2 million to clean up the nation’s parks and forests, and municipalities employed thousands of sanitation workers to help keep Israel’s cities clean.

The strategy for this year’s cleanliness campaign, launched in April 1997, is based on the results of a preliminary national littering survey which encompassed some 500 adults and two groups of children. The survey revealed the following:

– 82% of the public accepts the norm that littering is unacceptableat least on a theoretical level;
– 78% of the public indirectly admits to littering on occasion;

A careful analysis of these and other results led to the following conclusions:

The general public is basically apathetic to the problem of littering; A gap exists between theoretical norms and actual practice; Some types of garbage such as gum wrappers or cigarette butts are not conceived as litter;

The public recognizes that littering in parks and nature reserves is wrong but attributes less importance to cleanliness in streets, roadsides or beaches.

To tackle these problems, advertising firms and professional consultants were recruited. Based on their advice, an aggressive approach was decided upon and a tough slogan bearing a double-edged message was adopted: "Whoever litters is garbage". This powerfuland decidedly controversialmessage was intentionally chosen to jar national sensibilities and to stop the reckless littering of this country’s urban and rural landscapes.

To drive the message home, every means of communication is being usedtelevision, press, radio and even buses: some 60 introductory public service announcements were screened on Israel television during a two-week period in May alone; a tough enforcement message ("if you litter, you will pay") will follow in June. A new environmental series for 5-9 year olds was introduced on television’s second channel in March, and will be made available on video tape to the educational coordinators of the Ministry of the Environment’s district offices. Israel television’s Children’s Channel concentrated on cleanliness during a special environmental week aired on Passover and will continue to focus on the environment for the next six months. Anti-litter jingles incorporating this year’s motto are continuously sounded on the radioin both Hebrew and Arabic. One hundred buses, displaying the cleanliness motto, have begun traveling throughout the country carrying the message for everyone to see.

Additional advertising gimmicks include stickers, shirts, posters, and even a specially designed bag dubbed "baggies." Baggies, small enough to be stuffed into pockets or purses, will provide a temporary solution to those irksome scraps of garbage which tend to accumulate during the course of daily lifefrom gum wrappers to apple cores.

While the 4 million shekel campaign is largely targeted at children, it will encompass adults as well. 50,000 stickers, 5,000 hats, 5,000 shirts, 3,000 Hebrew posters and 2,000 Arabic posters have already been produced. Many have already been distributed to hikers and vacationers, along with garbage bags for vehicles and "baggies" for pockets, during the Passover holiday by such organizations as the Nature Reserves Authority and the National Park Authority. The challenge now is to inculcate the message deep in the hearts and minds of all Israelis for the sake of a cleaner, more beautiful Israel.