For a few memorable days in May, a monstrous machine stood in the car park next to Ramat Hanadiv's picnic area, making a tremendous racket. Though it looked like nothing that could be remotely connected to 'ecology' or 'green', this contraption actually labours long and hard to improve the quality of the environment.
As most of our readers know, it is sometimes necessary to carry out earthworks in the Memorial Gardens and the Nature Park. When a deep hole needs to be dug for a new tree, for instance, or when trenches are being excavated for new pipelines, a lot of organic material accumulates, comprised mostly of stones, soil, and roots or other vegetation. In many places, such material is simply hauled away for disposal in rubbish dumps or landfill sites. This kind of 'waste management' harms the environment in a number of ways: waste collection vehicles burning non-renewable fuel crowd the roads and pollute the air; dumps get filled up and new ones must be created; and eventually new materials must be mined and transported to construction sites.
At Ramat Hanadiv, the debris we dig up -- generally known till now as 'trash' -- is concentrated in a designated spot. When we have a significant amount of it, we bring in the 'monster machine', a huge compactor[???] which can separate soil from stone and rocks. After this sorting, the soil is left in one mound while the machine crushes the waste materials. Later, animal droppings from the goat shed are mixed into the pile of soil, creating first-rate organic compost. This goes back to the Memorial Gardens and the Nature Park, where it is used as a growing medium or to enrich the soil. The coarser, stone-based material left behind is used for construction, for upgrading Ramat Hanadiv's infrastructure of dirt roads, and most recently for the foundation of paths in the new Sustainable Garden (under construction). By saving and recycling our resources, we are helping to prevent pollution and contributing to sustainability.
A few years ago, when the Visitors Pavilion was being built at Ramat Hanadiv (2006-2009), we employed a similar machine. When land for its foundations was being excavated, the materials gouged out of the earth were concentrated in an enormous pile, then ground in a crushing machine. As the construction progressed, layers of the crushed material were used in paving areas such as the car park and new garden paths. Thus, during the three years while the Visitors Pavilion was being built, only about 20 loads of rubbish left Ramat Hanadiv -- rubble that could not be crushed. Since then, visitors have been treading -- unknowingly of course -- on recycled building waste. This was one of the innovative moves that brought the Visitors Pavilion its coveted 'Green Building' status, as well as the 'Making Israel Beautiful' award.
Nowadays, 'monster machines' are not so rare; they can be seen at building sites throughout Israel. Let's hope that sustainable thinking and economical use of resources will bring about a better future for all of us.