Spring Has Arrived , Passover is Coming, Its Cleanup Time

“Besides their contribution to the environment, taking part in Cleanup Day gives people a profound sense of satisfaction”, Yael Banin.

Thousands of Israelis gathered in forests around the country on Tuesday, March 20, 2022, to take part in a National Cleanup Day event organized and run by KKL-JNF.  Amongst the participants  were schoolchildren working alongside IDF soldiers and employees from Israel’s booming hi-tech sector. They were  all gathering trash and filling large green garbage bags that were later collected and removed.  Some participants came with their entire families and others came alone.

Clean up day at Ben Shemen forest. Photo: Dennis Zinn

The Ben Shemen Forest in between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was one location where groups of volunteers pitched in to collect litter.  One large contingent was made of Tel Aviv Municipality workers who were given the day off to take part in the campaign. Another group arrived from HP Indigo Company headquarters in Ness Ziona who  were all proudly wearing  T-shirts bearing the HP logo. There were also  IDF Soldiers from the elite Okets canine unit. They were working alongside some 50 pupils from Petach Tikva’s Korczak High School for youngsters with special-education needs.

KKL-JNF guides were onsite to direct the activities. As the groups arrived the  guides would lead the participants to a secluded spot where they distributed garbage bags  and gloves and gave instructions on how to proceed.  Eyal and Yoni, the two KKL-JNF guides who were assigned to the Korczak School participants, went to great lengths to explain to the youngsters the difference between garbage and natural forest waste, like fallen leaves and small branches that had become detached. Yoni said that it is important to make the kids feel connected to the land. “Out here in nature, they all have an opportunity to do things and feel that they are useful,” he said. “It does a lot for their self-esteem.”

National Cleanup Day has been in existence since 2008 when it was approved by the Knesset in a law initiated by KKL-JNF. It takes place each year on the last Tuesday of the Hebrew month of Adar which marks the convergence of the approximate beginning of spring and the onset of the festival of Passover. National Cleanup Day quickly evolved into a new tradition that fits in precisely with the custom of spring cleaning and Passover cleaning.

Leading the group from HP Indigo was Keren Shinar, who smiled broadly when asked if it was a problem for such a lot of people to leave work and come to a forest cleanup. “I am the HP Indigo Sustainability Manager,” she said. “We at HP consider the promotion of sustainability, and the protection of the environment in which we live, a duty. It's part of our company DNA. Our CEO is also very involved with sustainability. The KKL-JNF invitation to come to this event allows us to carry out exactly what we believe in. We have an uncompromising commitment to making sure we do everything we can to improve the world around us. It is our duty to the future of all of us, and the future of our children."

Shalom Krispel, Senior Manager of all the HP Indigo facilities in Israel, said that a lot of his daily attention centers around matters of sustainability.  “We genuinely try to do good to improve conditions for the company, for society, and for the world as a whole. For me as facility manager that means a never-ending list of actions such as stopping the use of disposables in our company canteens, introducing renewable energy sources, and yes, also the cleanup of our forests.”

12 Tel Aviv Municipality employees took part in the KKL-JNF cleanup event. They were all wearing the traditional white Cleanup Day T-shirts with “Doing Good” and a pink heart blazoned across the front. Irit Saban, who was leading the group, said that they were thrilled to be there. “It’s great to be outdoors in the sun after the long rainy winter and help to clean the forest.  And moreover, it’s considered a paid day of work. I think that’s thanks to the National Cleanup Day Law that was passed in the Knesset.”

“Besides their contribution to the environment, taking part in Cleanup Day gives people a profound sense of satisfaction,” said Yael Banin, KKL-JNF’s Volunteer Coordinator. “It also gives them the opportunity to connect with nature and the KKL-JNF values that we all believe in. After a person takes part in a cleanup event there is no chance that he is going to allow anyone to leave their garbage in the forest.”

“Let’s also remember that every day is a cleanup day at KKL-JNF, “added Dudu Ashkenazi, KKL-JNF Director of Training and Educational Projects. “We do not wait for a special day to clean our forests. In fact, we have over 450 volunteers who do this throughout the year, every year.  However,  National Cleanup Day is an organized opportunity for members of the public to get involved and they do arrive in large numbers when called to the flag. It’s  win-win for all.”