Easy on the Ear, Not on the Ozone Layer

One of the world's leading jazz festivals must also be committed to international standards of environmental protection.

The Red Sea Jazz Festival, held in Eilat every August, has just ended. It offered dozens of wonderful performances and hundreds of gifted musicians to tens of thousands of listeners - and not one single recycling bin.

Over the four days of the festival, Neviot sold hundreds of thousands of half-liter bottles of water at NIS 8 apiece. Yet it did not bother setting up one recycling bin. Apparently, no one conditioned its license on protecting the environment.

It will take 1,000 years for these water bottles to biodegrade. And the polystyrene plates on which a significant portion of the food there was served will never biodegrade.

Some 85,000 people attended this year's festival, the 22nd in Eilat, making it the largest ever. Thousands of cars were stuck in traffic jams, because there were no regular shuttles from the hotels and the beach to the festival site at the port. Such shuttles, for a nominal price, could have prevented both the traffic jams and the air pollution, as well as enabling the thousands of teenagers who flock to the festival, to get to the port without needing to take a taxi or hitchhike.

Eilat is a small city, and nighttime bicycle rides along the beach could have been lovely. But the city does not have a single store that rents bicycles. In Paris, by contrast, there are tens of thousands of bicycles available for rent right on the street. Nor does Eilat have a bicycle path along the shore. It is also not possible to bring a bicycle to the city by bus. And, of course, there is still no train to Eilat.

So a festival that was wonderful for the ears, the eyes and the soul harmed the present and future for every one of us.

The quantity of air pollution, unrecycled bottles and nonbiodegradable materials could have been reduced had a little attention been paid to this issue. If Neviot is turning a profit on its franchise to sell us water, it should be required to recycle the bottles. And eateries could be required to serve all food on biodegradable plates.

This festival, one of the world's leading jazz festivals, must also be committed to international standards of environmental protection. The Red Sea Jazz Festival could have been green - as could all the other festivals that took place in Israel this summer. I did not visit those, but one can safely assume that the amount of pollution those festivals produced was no less.