Thoughts on the so called cleanliness of the West
On our travels we are often disappointed and a little shocked to see garbage cluttering roadsides, plastic waste littering tropical beaches, river beds full of rubbish.
Indonesia, Peru, Palestine, Halong Bay all come to mind as I write this and I am sure that others echo this in their travel memories. On this trip someone commented to me how the Palestinian territories were dirty in comparison to the State of Israel, so I thought I would address this issue:
1. Everything I throw away has to go somewhere; just because that is not on my doorstep does not make me any less of a polluter than someone who throws away their rubbish at the boundary of their village because they live in a country where there is no proper refuse collection. I must consider what is happening to the items and packaging I throw away, many of these end up in someone else's environment, making me more of a polluter. So, no clear conscience for me just because I put it in the bin! In fact, do I need something new in the first place? If so, have I considered the environmental impact of its purchase?
2. Palestine and refuse collection ( my understanding):
The State of Israel collects the majority of the taxes on behalf of the Palestinian authority and then pays this to the PA in order for them to provide local services such as schools and refuse collection. The State of Israel regularly withholds this payment to the Palestinian territories thus making it almost impossible for them to deliver the services. We are talking large amounts of money. For more detail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_State_of_Palestine
Whilst on a walking tour in Bethlehem we saw plenty of waste dumped from the watch towers on the Separation wall. Some of the packaging of food waste had the IDF ( Israeli army) logo printed on it so unlikely to be Palestinian waste. Bottles of urine etc. All thrown into a Palestinian graveyard, so sad.
Once you start researching this subject you begin to realise that the situation is even worse, with the dumping of hazardous waste from the State of Israel on Palestinian land. Pollution on a huge scale, I recommend reading this report
When freedom of movement is so restricted it is difficult to arrange for waste transfer and rubbish collection. The residents of the Aida refugee camp have therefore been trying to organise their own system. in the first photo is a picture of the waste skips that I took in 2014, the second is in the same place from 2019. The residents have started to build a sorting system for the waste but they have been told by the State of Israel that they may not do so and work has stopped, leaving the residents with few options regarding their refuse disposal
In Gaza the situation is even worse, compounded by fuel poverty and further restrictions on movement.
So before we judge, lets take a look at our own approach to refuse, (mine certainly has an element of out of sight out of mind)., and also begin to understand the far reaching and often ignored effects of the illegal occupation.