Saturday, October 13, 2007

Living the Ecological Life on the Carmel

It is a reasonably good assumption, that "ecological awareness," "respect for the environment," or "economic sustainability" are not the things for which Israel is known. However a recent report in our local papers unearthed someone who wants to change these perceptions.

The report gives the example of , Amiad Lapidot, from Moshav Kerem Maharal tucked into the Carmel mountain range just 10 miles south of Haifa , is out to change that. Thirty-nine years old, married and the father of two children (one aged three and the other four months old),Lapidot has dedicated his life toward changing Israel, saving its environment, revitalizing the world's ecosystem and bringing all of "Spaceship Earth's passengers" closer together in a new world of peace, cooperation and interdependence.- see full story at

Don't laugh. He may just succeed.

For Lapidot and the mostly young volunteer staff , "sustainability" means that we can live well today, meet all of our needs, preserve and improve the quality of our lives - and present future generations with a natural environment that is cleaner, greener and healthier than the world's environment today,

We can do this, he says, if each and every one of us learns to live like a tree. "Every day in the life of a tree, it wakes up and asks itself, 'Okay, what am I going to do today? I will take the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and change it into oxygen. With my roots, I will clean the water in the ground.

With the leaves that fall from me, I will enrich the soil. I will give fruit for birds and other animals.' Every day, because of that tree, the environment is cleaner and richer. The underground is cleaner. The air is cleaner. The oxygen is more plentiful. The soil is richer. And all of this happens every day. How can we live with this kind of model? What can each of us do to make the natural environment a little stronger every day?"

"With the millions of things we do every day, we are destroying nature's ability to do its work." says Lapidot where he saw that the problem was particularly acute in Israel, which, per capita, is the second largest producer of garbage in the world after the United States, and where entire rivers are polluted due to chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture, as well as industrial waste. "The earth is like a spaceship, and we are all fellow passengers," he says, "Whatever we do, good or bad, affects our spaceship and our ability to live on it."

Built largely with the help of friends, Lapidot's house is perhaps the major "attraction" at Kerem Maharal . The frame is made from four used marine shipping containers, and the exterior walls from blocks of bailed straw, grown by Lapidot in his own fields. "It's wonderful to grow the materials for my own house in my own fields, with no pollution at all!" he exclaims.

The interior bricks come from local soil - much of it dredged from a nearby river during its annual cleaning by the local authority and strained through a homemade filter by Lapidot to make clay. , .

"The house knows how to warm itself in winter and cool itself in summer. All the windows in the bedroom face south with sunshields. The sun gets into the rooms in winter and makes them warm. In the summer, the sun hits the sunshields and doesn't get into the house. And this is wonderful."Lapidot points to a small hole at the base of one of the bedroom walls and explains that this will one day be connected to a pipe running deep underground and will also contribute toward cooling the house.

After building his house, he decided-to concentrate on garbage. "If we look at the garbage produced by the average Israeli family, we find that around 40% of it is organic. It's material that originally came from the soil - like fruit from a tree - but is not being put back. Ifs being .put in the same - garbage containers as tin cans, newspapers, plastic bottles and plastic bags, and then it is trucked away to land fill sites. The organic material then decomposes in the open air and turns into methane, a greenhouse gas. If we don't learn how to deal better with our garbage, next summer will be hotter than this one is, and the following year's summer will be hotter and so on, year after year. The simple .solution is to take the organic garbage, turn it into compost and give it back to the trees, which will use the nutrients to make more fruit - and more trees."

Today, composting is the core of Lapidot’s work, drawing visitors from all over Israel. He is most importantly; however, recycling upwards of 100 tons of garbage per year, and sparing the Earth's atmosphere some 50,000 tons of greenhouse gasses.

Lapidot's voice assumes a missionary zeal as he concludes, "So let’s live like we see the trees
living in this wonderful forest. We can live together in balance. We could save the world if everyone began to think this way. I want to have as many people as possible come here, learn the concept and spread it all over the world”

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