I came across a rather smart and simple article, on BuzzFeed no less, about how tiny changes can help you to change the earth without becoming a vegetarian or vegan. I already do a lot of these: reusable shopping and produce bags, water in reusable bottles, hang dry laundry etc but it did get me thinking. For how many people is this completely new? How many people will read this article and be enlightened? I live in Dubai which is a city not exactly known for its sustainable lifestyle. Though the movement is growing as more people learn about being sustainable.
I thought I would go through the list and give it a Dubai commentary. Enjoy.
- Shop at farmers markets where you can. The Ripe Markets are probably the most famous farmers markets in the UAE and with good reason. The also have farm shops and pop ups.
- Set up your own little herd garden. Visit the Dubai Garden Centre for some inspiration and advice, afterwards you can even visit the very cute Roseleaf Cafe for some yummy food.
- Avoid plastic cutlery. This can be as easy as telling the food delivery company/take away not to give you plastic cutlery. I know that in Dubai a lot of us get meals delivered so try to at least wash your own cutlery. Or have the maid to it, this is Dubai after all. But seriously, stop! We use so much plastic cutlery in Dubai try to switch to biodegradable options. Both Spinneys and Carrefour have biodegradable/ wooden options in the same aisle as plastic cutlery and plates.
- Use less energy at home. Summer is coming up so I understand that this is not as easy as if you were back home but think about what is sucking the power and increasing your DEWA bill. Turn off the lights when you are not in that room. Finished with the PC or laptop? Shut it down. Close the blinds when you are not at home. Turn off the water tap while brushing your teeth. Close the windows when the AC is on. Simple things like this can save energy and reduce your DEWA bill.
- And seriously, stop using your dryer. It may be unsightly but hang your laundry to dry. And it ties in with the above as the dryer uses a lot of energy. Plus your clothing lasts longer if you do not use a dryer.
- Recycle! Okay so in Dubai this is a bit tricky. Dulsco has a recycling program for commercial and private companies. Green Truck also has a monthly subscription for AED100 per month (residential) and they also take electronic waste.
- And resell or donate things that still have life in them. Dubizzle or Take My Junk. Nuf’ said.
- Drink tap water. The official government line is that the desalinated water in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is fit for drinking, even unfiltered, and for washing. Here is the article which supports this. I drink tap water but boiled for tea and cooking. And when it is cooled I use it for everything else and I am still living.
- Try to use less water at home. Shorter showers, water/energy efficient appliances, turn off the tap while brushing teeth etc the list is endless and it still hurts my heart to see people watering their grass during noon in the summer heat.
- Buy smart products. Or just edit the settings so that it goes into sleep mode earlier if it is not time to replace your electronics.
- Remember your reusable shopping bags. You can get these at the check out in any of the major retailers in the UAE. Some of my bags I already had 6 or 7 years. Just remember to clean them every once in a while.
- In fact, start replacing everything with reusable items. I got my reusable produce bags at Organic Foods and Cafe and they are brilliant. I also use old jars for holding my mueslis and other things I need to take along or keep in the fridge. I am moving away from plastics and this is my preferred alternative.
- Source your meat sustainably. My preference is to go local but as the UAE is not known for its sprawling ranches I look at what the animal was fed. Grass fed is better than corn fed. Hormone free is also important. Check out Spinneys or my go to Organic Foods and Cafe for great meat options.
- Learn about natural cosmetics. Visit Organic Food and Cafe’s cosmetics/nutrition area for advice, Holland & Barret also has some great cosmetics and nutrition solutions.
- Explore ethical fashion. Big retailers like H&M and Gap have jumped on the sustainable fashion bandwagon with organic cotton ranges but an alternative is to visit flea markets or clothing swaps and of course not purchasing loads of fast fashion. Instead curate your wardrobe. The Media One Hotel is holding a clothing sale and swap Tuesday 25th April 2017 from 6-10 pm at #gardenon8 plus there will be a complimentary drink and pampering. Winning.
- Make the most of all your products. Squeeze that last bit of toothpaste or lotion out of the bottle. Then cut it open. Yes. Cut. You will usually have one or two applications left.
- Make your own cooking essentials. Veggie stock, beef stock, granola … so many things can be made at home with what you have. Sometimes it takes a couple minutes on google and a sprinkle of imagination.
- And learn how to cook up all that leftover fridge food. Start with making a stew. Apples, bell peppers and carrots? Make a stew. Add some milk (dairy or whatever), some stock, cayenne pepper and simmer until the veg is soft then blend it and season to taste. Extra pasta or rice can also be thrown in. Too many assorted veg and a random chicken breast? Make a massive mixed salad. Just, you know, make sure the chicken breast is cooked through.
- Get yourself a reusable coffee cup. This is easy peasy. Head over to Starbucks, Cariboo or Costa and pick up one of their cut travel cups. Grocery stores also carry travel cups though at a lower price point.
So don’t be lazy. Realise that there are options to living sustainably in Dubai and that even something small can make a difference. I made 2017 the year that I do not buy new clothes (other than something I can swap, underwear and shoes I can buy but only to replace something). I also am trying to take the metro when possible. This works for me but not for everyone. So try your bit. Start by buying the reusable produce bags, use a reusable coffee cup or enjoy your drink in store. Have fun!