a novel idea

I love to read. Especially during the winter. Who doesn't love to curl up with a cup of tea, a blanket, and a good book?

The downside? Books are made of paper, and paper is made of trees. And I love trees. As with many other things, though, the energy and resources required to support our reading habits could be significantly reduced if people did one simple thing - share. Borrow books from a library, buy used books and then re-sell them, share books with friends, and... swap books with strangers.

How can you swap books with strangers if, well, you don't know them? For the English readers out there, there's a great website called AngloBooks that allows people to post whatever books they have lying around, see what books other people have, and swap. The service is free, and there are book swappers listed from all over the country (Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Raanana, Rechovot...). All kinds of genres are available, ranging from literature, to travel, to mystery and romance novels. Signing up is very easy, too.

Happy book sharing!


ode to my farm

Okay, so its not really my farm... but I'm a member so a small part of it is kind of mine. At least a cabbage patch or a tomato plant. About four months ago, I joined a community-supported organic farm called Or-Gani (in Hebrew, literally, "light of my garden") and have been receiving weekly deliveries of freshly picked, pesticide-free, seasonal produce ever since. Before joining the farm I never really thought much about where my food came from or how it was produced - as far as I was concerned, cucumbers came from the supermarket. I didn't even know how certain vegetables grow.

But being part of the farm has made me a lot more conscious about the food I'm eating and of the effects that my food consumption has on the environment. I've learned not to take all of the energy required to transport my food to me for granted, to try and eat the food with the least amount of processing possible, and to reduce the packaging associated with my food. Being a member of the farm puts me into direct contact with the people growing my food (very nice guys called Yaniv and Offer), requires minimal packaging (the cardboard boxes and packaging can be returned to the farmer for re-use), and requires less energy to transport since the vegetables are going directly to the person eating them. And the vegetables are damn tasty, too. I made a sweet potato and carrot soup last night that got rave reviews.

Or-Gani is one of a few organic CSA farms that have started to emerge in Israel, and depending on where you live in the country one may have available deliveries in your area. Other CSA farms in Israel include Chubeza, Hazon, and Gabriella's Farm. I highly recommend giving one a try.


reincarnating my carrot peels

Since I live in Tel Aviv (in an apartment that's smaller than my parent's living room), I don't really have access to a garden or any type of planted area and so there's not really any space for me to compost my organic kitchen scraps. Sure, there's public gardens around, but I'm not sure how the Tel Aviv Municipality would react to my construction of a compost heap in the middle of a playground. Actually, I can pretty much imagine.

That's why I was so excited when someone posted an invitation to use their compost heap in the center of Tel Aviv last week on Freecycle (Freecycle is an amazing network, better than Craigslist, to be explained in a later post). Not many people get excited about composting their onion peels and lemon rinds. I do.

After reading that invitation I immediately starting separating my organic scraps (food waste, food gone bad, dust, hair, cloth, torn up paper) from my other garbage and this morning I headed over to the compost heap, which is located in the back garden of an apartment building on 8 Ha'Avoda Street (near the corner of King George and Ha'Avoda). To add my scraps I cleared a small space in the center of the pile on the right (the compost heap), placed the scraps inside that area, and then covered all of the scraps with dry leaves (located to the left of the compost heap). Easy.

Easy, and important. Organic waste usually constitutes 30-40% of household trash, meaning 30-40% of the waste in landfills could be composted and used to foster the growth of additional plants. Meaning, our landfills could be 30-40% smaller if everyone composted their food scraps. Sounds good to me. Plus, the nutrients go back into the earth which is pretty great too.


new year, new resolutions, new blog

Those who know me know that I'm a very improbable candidate for starting a blog. I'm not a big fan of technology, am never attracted to the newest gadgets, and when it comes to drawing attention to myself I'm generally pretty shy. So why start this blog? Because I've been so inspired recently by all of the environmental blogs popping up all over the blogosphere, suggesting tips for being "green" in New York, or San Francisco, or the UK, and realized that although there are some blogs on the subject here in Israel we could definitely use some more. Hence my blog.

For those who have only recently become interested in adopting a more"green" lifestyle (and for those who haven't), I want you to know that although I was very interested in the environment and animal rights as a kid (I've been a vegetarian since I was seven years old, much to the dismay of my Moroccan grandmother who still tries to feed me lamb every chance she gets), this interest took a hiatus for some reason for many, many years and I'm new to "living green" too. So this blog will serve as an inspiration for me to figure out more ways to be green, and to share them with you.

Since I'm currently living in Tel Aviv, many of my posts might be Tel Aviv specific but I will make a definite attempt to offer more general suggestions as well. Any suggestions you have are very welcome, so please post your comments.

So welcome to Crunchy Greenola!