One smell that was new to me when I arrived in Palestine, was the smell of burning garbage. Coming home in the afternoon from a café, there is almost always a cloud of black smoke or small flames flickering somewhere in view. With waste collection unavailable in almost all of the Palestinian territories, the people have to do something with their waste. Sanitary landfills cost money and require space, both of which aren’t readily available. So they burn. I looked it up and discovered that it’s actually a pretty common practice in small towns and even rural areas all over the world, utilized by those who want to avoid waste collection costs.
Problem is, when you burn your waste, a lot of pollutants that are damaging to the environment, particularly the ozone layer, are released. Additionally, burning garbage can create and release toxic pollutants that cause eye and lung infections, and in some cases, cancer.
Good thing is, the Palestinians are aware of the problem. And despite the fact that they have other, more pressing, priorities, slow but steady steps are being taken within the Palestinian territories to correct the situation.
According to an article published last February in the publication ‘This Week In Palestine,’ some Palestinian municipalities are working together to create regional systems of waste management; systems that include organized collection of waste and the creation of sanitary landfills. Cool beans. Go Palestine!