The tiles of the Miryam Park in Givatayim look brand new, but residents have, in fact, been treading them for years. In another nearby park, the enormous table there used to be a bunch of benches. These are just two examples of a new recycling plan being promoted by Givatayim to reuse materials in the city's public spaces.
The plan comes from two residents, architects Havi Livne and Heli Ellul Tselniker, partners in Urban Fabric, which offers landscape architecture and urban design. "We were approached by the Givatayim municipality, which told us there was a donor who wanted to build a park focused on recycling. He envisioned all the things we already have in our daily lives - bottle recycling, paper products and so on. But we felt the idea needed to be moved up a notch."
They wanted recycling to be "a strategy to run the city by. The materials we use haven't left the city and if they do, they come back."
This new strategy has become apparent in recent weeks in local parks. In Miryam Park on Shenkin Street, the paths have been retiled with old tiles from elsewhere that were saved from landfill. Some were sent to the Akerstein factory, where they were ground, made into a specially developed recycled material dubbed "retro-stone" and cut into tiles once again. Other tiles were sliced up, and the unworn sections used for tiling the paths. "It's not industrialized, it's unsophisticated, it's really working with your hands," said Livne.
In a park on Patai Street, the table that used to be park benches will soon be accompanied by a dog run, whose fence will be a recycled railing from Miryam Park. The nearby community garden also uses recycled wares: The tool shack used to be a recycling container for bottles, and the floor tiles were once the roof tiles of a city school. The plant pots are bordered by wood collected by the municipal gardeners as they pruned city trees.
"We're not throwing anything away, we keep it and we reuse it," said Ziva Kheit, deputy director of the city landscape improvement department.
The plan is championed personally by Mayor Reuven Ben Shahar, under the slogan "Keep it in the city."
Kheit said the initiative had two goals: Spreading the green message and hoping it will be used in private homes as well as in public spaces. The other goal? Saving money by reusing material instead of paying for its disposal. She said workers in her department have caught the bug. "A while ago we received a batch of packaged playground installations from Denmark, and one of the workers told me, I'll turn the crates into a table."
The two architects behind the scheme are lobbying to have it introduced in other cities, and have submitted it to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud ). They say he was very much in favor.