Israel to Mark Earth Day With Lights Off, Beach Cleaning Event

Earth Day will be marked today around the world. In Israel, most ceremonies will be held tomorrow. The central event is "Earth Hour," when several cities turn off the lights from 8 to 9 P.M to raise awareness about energy conservation.

Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970, when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson called on Americans to hold a nationwide protest against environmental destruction. Two years later, the first Earth Day Committee was convened in Sweden, and later the United Nations ruled to mark the event worldwide.

Israel's Earth Day events this year will include a campaign to clean Tel Aviv's beaches, and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel will hold an event for children and young adults at Rabin Square, including a pyrotechnic display and performances by well-known performers.

Immediately afterward, lights in the square, including those of the Tel-Aviv Jaffa Municipality, will be turned off.

Capital to go dark

Jerusalem will also temporarily go dark, as courts and government offices join the campaign. Municipalities in Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Dimona and Kfar Sava will follow suit.

The central event of the day will be adjacent to Rabin Square, at Gat Cinema.

The environmental umbrella organization Life and Environment will distribute "Green Globe" awards on behalf of Environment Minister Gilad Erdan to individuals and organizations that made the greatest contributions to environmental causes, while "Black Globes" will be divvied out to those that harmed those causes.

This year, the Green Globe will be granted to the Achla organization of Ramat Hasharon, whose goal is reduce pollution by defense manufacturing in the area. An award will also be granted to Magic Ceramic, which produces home devices for water conservation.

This year's Black Globe will be awarded to Bnei Brak-based Central Bottling Company, Israel's Coca-Cola franchise. The environmental groups believe the company has done little to promote recycling, and has even taken steps to undermine recycling efforts.

"We are dismayed by the prize committee's decision," a spokesman for Central Bottling said, noting that it had helped recycle more than 2.5 million bottles it had manufactured.