When Amiad Lapidot was in school a teacher would chastise him, telling him that if he did not work harder, he would end up collecting garbage. Amiad recounts the story with a chuckle. After working hard in school, getting a BA in Geography and an MA in City Planning as well as completing several fellowships in environmental programs, Amiad is fulfilling his dream; collecting garbage.
With the assistance of the New Israel Fund and SHATIL, Amiad has built an organization dedicated to sustainability in Israel. Eretz Carmel, named after a moshav located in the lush, green mountains of the Galilee, aims to reverse and improve the current reality of environmental awareness in Israel, which is decades behind much of the Western world. Through resourceful education methods and practical implementation of its Compost HaKerem project, Eretz Carmel is pushing to achieve a “sustainable” world where people live healthily and in harmony with the environment, while safeguarding the existence of future generations.
A former naval officer in the submarine division now turned environmental crusader, Amiad describes life on a submarine as being a microcosm of life on this planet. Amiad is a graduate of the "Environmental Fellows" Program of the Heschel Center. And in 2003, he became the first of two Fellows for the Israel Venture Network (IVN) two-year program for Social Entrepreneurship. Amiad also served as the northern co-coordinator for SHATIL’s “Environment and Community” program. Eretz Carmel, a pluralistic, grassroots organization of dedicated environmentalists, was established in 2006.
Amiad often hosts groups at Eretz Carmel where, with infectious enthusiasm, he gives a presentation on environmental sustainability in Israel. One of the organizations most successful projects is a composting initiative. Israel, a county roughly the size of New Jersey, is being overwhelmed by garbage. Each year, 75 additional Israeli acres are covered with garbage. Twenty percent of all greenhouse gases produced by Israel come from these garbage piles.
What began as a one-man crusade has grown in scope to a program adopted by several villages throughout the North. Simply separating out the organic materials from the trash meant for the landfills, where organics cannot decompose quickly due to lack of oxygen, significantly reduces the amount of trash. The organic materials are then added to a community compost pile, and after six months, the organic garbage turns to compost that can be used in the garden at home or in public gardens. The venture has also saved the villages money, as transporting garbage is a costly endeavor.
Through its innovate programming, Eretz Carmel hopes to:
• Reduce household output of garbage by 40%.
• Reduce greenhouse gases.
• Reduce transportation and burying expense
• Create changes in the attitude and behavior of people towards organic waste recycling by teaching them ways they can use it to achieve a better and healthier environment.
Amiad practices what he preaches. Aside from composting at home, he single handedly built a home for his family, which is acknowledged as a prototype for environmental design.