Photo Credit: Jewish Press

After we finally emptied out our lift boxes, we found ourselves in desperate need of getting rid of them. But how does one dispose of hundreds of cardboard boxes, piles of packing paper, and an endless assortment of unnecessary odds and ends that somehow ended up in our lift?

Every building in Modi’in has a “garbage room” adjacent to it. This room is generally made of stone with an open roof. Inside the room are green bins provided by the municipality for residents to dispose typical non-recyclable household trash.

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You have to be careful, though, that your trash bags are placed in the green bins and not on the floor of the room. Aside from avoiding a fine, placing bags in the bins is crucial because they won’t be picked up otherwise. Garbage trucks in Modi’in have a claw that reaches down into the open roof of the garbage room, lifts the bin out, and empties it into the truck. Bags of trash outside of the bin are left behind.

Every building also has a blue garbage bin, which is generally kept on the sidewalk in front of the building. This bin is like the paper recycling bin we had back in the States. It is used for paper goods like newspapers and pizza cartons. It is not, however, used for the large moving boxes. In fact, throwing those in the blue bins can land you a hefty fine.

Not all garbage is conveniently disposed of by your front door. Recyclables such as glass or plastic bottles, for example, must be dropped in designated plastic or glass recycling containers found throughout the city. (While we have a plastic disposal container across the street from our house, we have to walk several blocks to throw out glass bottles.) Even clothes cannot be disposed of in your building’s garbage bins; they must be thrown out in designated textile bins found around the city.

As it turned out, our piles of packing debris did not belong in the green bin, or the blue bin, or, in fact, in any bin at all. We were instructed to simply dump all of it on the curb or a legal parking spot between noon and midnight the day before the designated pickup dates. On these days (twice a week) a garbage truck circles the city and picks up all these piles of trash. (Oddly, placing it in any of these places on pick-up days themselves would have put us at risk of receiving a fine of upwards of 300 shekel!)

You know the old saying, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure?” The people of Modi’in certainly seem to have taken it to heart and try to re-home their previously loved items. Before calling the municipality to arrange a special pickup of furniture or large appliances, residents often post pictures of these items on Facebook or WhatsApp groups with the simple message of “limisira b’ahava” (for donation with love) and a curb intersection, so others can pick up the items.

A fellow oleh joked that there was no need to go to IKEA, as all he needed to furnish his apartment could easily be found on the streets of Modi’in. My husband’s lucky curbside find was a new-to-us sukkah that we look forward to using, G-d willing, next month!

I would be remiss if I failed to note that there are wonderful chesed organizations here in Modi’in that make sure that nothing goes to waste. Remember those must-have-kita-alef Kal Gav knapsacks on wheels? Well, it turns out that most kids no longer use them after kita bet. The Feed a Family Organization and a local laundromat called “Lavender” paired up to collect these no-longer-needed bags, professionally clean them, and pass them along to families that would appreciate them!

Modi’in is also home to the Women’s International Zionist Organization’s (“WIZO”) Vintage Boutique. WIZO accepts donated second-hand items of all kinds – house goods, clothing for the family, toys, books – and resells them at incredibly reasonable prices to the community. Proceeds from these sales are used to fund the many important projects run by WIZO, including activities for the elderly, classes for new mothers, and legal and social services for people who cannot afford them.

While it may take some time for me to remember all of the trash rules of Modi’in, I can appreciate how they help to keep its streets clean and beautiful. Besides, who knows what valuable treasures I might yet find for our home as I trek around the city to take out the garbage?

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