Photos of Climate Activist Being Used to Deter Israelis From Using Plastics in Workplace

Swedish teenager’s face can be seen scowling disapprovingly in cafeterias and coffee corners across the land, in a bid to get Israelis to reduce usage of disposables

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A picture of Greta Thunberg placed next to the disposable spoons in a Haaretz kitchen, Tel Aviv.
A picture of Greta Thunberg placed next to the disposable spoons in a Haaretz kitchen, Tel Aviv.Credit: Leo Gurevich

The stern face of climate change activist Greta Thunberg has been greeting a growing number of office workers in their workplaces across Israel.

Employees have been placing photos of a judgmental-looking Thunberg on top of their office’s supply of disposable cups, plastic plates and utensils, in a bid to make colleagues think twice before using products that create waste that can harm the environment.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 47

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Photos of the scowling Greta tableaus have made the rounds on social media — a phenomenon that appears to be encouraging the trend.

The “Greta shaming” is part of efforts to reduce the use of disposable items in Israel, which, due in part to the high number of citizens who keep kosher, has been resistant to the global trend opposing their use.

The city of Tel Aviv has banned disposables from public schools and both IKEA Israel and SodaStream said recently they would stop selling disposable plastic items. However, many more workplaces, including the Israeli army, have been more resistant to getting rid of paper and plastic.

Some locations of scowling Greta photos were in media organizations, including Haaretz, where the Swedish teenager could be found peeking out from behind the disposable, albeit biodegradable, forks.

A scowling Greta Thunberg voices her disapproval of people using disposable plastic utensils and cups at the AP offices in Jerusalem.Credit: Patty Nieberg

The angriest-looking Greta photo was found in the Associated Press office in Jerusalem, where her image between the paper cups and plastic stirrers was accompanied with the pointed message “HOW DARE YOU!”

A worker at the international website giant Wix said Thunberg was keeping watch at a number of the cafeterias next to the plastic and paper cups at their company.

At the Tel Aviv cybersecurity company Siemplify, Thunberg, sitting atop a water dispenser, looks more skeptical than angry, asking disposable cup users “Are you sure?”

At least one Siemplify employee clearly didn’t appreciate the message, covering the 16-year-old’s face with a plastic cup. Ouch.

Still, the message is timely. A recent comparative study conducted by the Israeli environmental organization Adam Teva V’Din found that the average Israeli creates more than twice the international average plastic waste per person each day, and the country ranks third among those responsible for dumping plastic in the Mediterranean.