Feel like you’ve done it all in Israel? Masada, Jerusalem’s Old City, Tel Aviv’s beachfront? Then we recommend doing a little something extra next time you’re in the Holy Land by turning your visit green.
Whether endangered plant species, rescued animals or mud huts are your thing, there’s plenty to do to go eco-friendly and do some good to yourself and your environment.
Here are our 10 top recommendations – enjoy your trip!
- Go foraging
If you want to both get up close with nature and fill your tummy with delicious produce, look no further than foraging tours available across the country through private guides and local authorities. Simply locate the date and destination most convenient for you and start walking. Interesting and edible local plants include delicacies such as wild asparagus, mallow and mustard leaves.
- Clean up a beach or two
Unfortunately, Israel’s beaches can sometimes feel like the bottom of a long-forgotten ashtray. Luckily, beach clean-ups have become a big thing here in recent years, and you can join in. One of our favorite groups is Clean the Butts, a grassroots movement to clean up public spaces, beaches included, from the filthy habit. Check out their Facebook page to learn more.
- Rescue food
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Food waste is a horrible phenomenon that occurs more often than we’d like to think. Leket Israel, the country’s leading food rescue organization, runs volunteering activities such as picking surplus produce from fields or sorting and packing foods in its logistics center. Either way, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment by reducing waste, as well as benefiting people in need, all in a day’s work.
- Check out a mud house
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Kibbutz Lotan in the southern Arava desert is one of the greenest locales in the country. The ecological kibbutz offers all kinds of activities, ranging from year-long, pre-army programs to shorter residencies on topics such as food sustainability, renewable energy and water management.
The most luxurious option, however, is staying at one of the kibbutz’s green guest rooms with amenities such as eco-friendly toilets, and participating in family-friendly fun at the Eco-Kef ecological playground and natural building workshops.
The Freedom Farm Sanctuary in central Israel is home to animals rescued from industrial farms and the food industry and welcomes visitors young and old to get to know their stories. The farm runs age-appropriate tours for children aged four and up, and is an opportunity for all to practice compassion and awareness when it comes to our four-legged friends.
- Tour an organic farm
Tur Sinai Organic Farm might be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but it feels like a whole world away. A favorite location for weddings and events, the farm also offers tours of its orchards, during which visitors can hear all about the place’s unique history, enjoy the stunning sights, learn about organic farming and of course get a taste of the produce.
- Go climbing atop a mountain of garbage
One upon a time, Hiriya was a huge mountain of garbage where local municipalities dumped their waste. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, the whole area was transformed into an environmental rehabilitation project and overall green lung that’s now called Ariel Sharon Park. Visitors to the large park just outside of Tel Aviv can enjoy eco-friendly activities and tours, or just wander around for some magnificent views and a fun day out.
- Look out for endangered species
You can do your bit for the environment even when out on the most regular of hikes with nothing more than your mobile phone at your side. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority invites the public to update its endangered plants “red book” upon seeing any of the 400 listed species out in nature. By participating and keeping an eye out for rare flowers and greenery, not only will your uphill trudge become so much more interesting, but you will be contributing to an ever-changing body of knowledge
- Become a forester for a day
Ever wanted to be a forest ranger? Now’s your chance. Courtesy of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) Forester for a Day program, you can assist local authorities in pruning trees and clearing underbrush to prevent the spread of future fires and maintain a healthy forest. You can join foresters in several forests across the country, and leave the day with a hat, pin and certificate for your hard work.
- Scooter your way
Skipping polluting cars, taxis and buses is a sure way to give your holiday that extra-green edge, and also an easy one if you happen to stay in Tel Aviv. The city is awash with electric scooters for rent, and the service is straightforward and simple to use.
We do, however, urge you to ride cautiously, wear a helmet and take care to avoid accidents. And if scooters seem a bit much, you can always rent a good old-fashioned bike from multiple municipal pickup points. Travel safely!