Tel Aviv beaches fall foul in Israel's passion for plastic | 8/19/2019 | Staff
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In the early morning, when the only sound on Tel Aviv beach is the waves, Yosef Salman and his team pick up plastic debris left by bathers or cast up by the sea.

Working in heat and humidity with large rakes, they scoop plastic cups, cigarette ends, empty sunscreen tubes and soiled babies' nappies.

Sand - Microplastics - Particles - Debris - Sun

Also present, but impossible to separate from the sand, are microplastics, tiny particles of plastic debris that have been broken down by sun and salt.

"When it rains... you can see tonnes of plastic in the sand," says Ariel Shay, of the Plastic Free Israel movement, which organises volunteer beach cleanups.

Activities - Groups - Israel - Plastic

Despite the activities of environmental groups, Israel remains hooked on plastic.

A June report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) ranked Tel Aviv's coastline as the third most polluted by plastic waste in the Mediterranean, behind Barcelona and southern Turkey.

Valencia - Alexandria - Algiers - Marseille - Places

Valencia, Alexandria, Algiers and Marseille were listed in fourth to seventh places.

With around four million inhabitants, Tel Aviv is Israel's most populous metropolitan area.

Time - Beach - Time - Cleaning—it - Complains

"Every time I go to the beach now, I spend my time cleaning—it's horrible!" complains Shani Zylbersztejn, with an eye on her nine-month-old daughter, who plays with a plastic fork freshly dug from the sand.

In the upper-crust town of Herzliya, just north of Tel Aviv, Limor Gorelik, of the environmental protection NGO Zalul, patrols the sands, offering beachgoers bamboo cups and reusable bags in a bid to wean them from single-use plastics.

Gorelik - Israel - Passion - Plastic - Lack

Gorelik blames Israel's passion for plastic on a lack of education and on deeply ingrained habits, such as using disposable tableware for family picnics.

Observant Jews who want a beachfront lunch on Saturdays are forbidden from washing the dishes afterwards, because their faith bans them from working on the Sabbath.

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