Here at The Gaggler, we’re all about making great choices in life – and when those choices help others whilst simultaneously saving the planet, we know we’re onto a winner. Living a more sustainably-focused existence was top of our to-do list on January 1, and as we battle through probably the toughest year on record (yes, we mean you, COVID-19) here are eight easy ways to give back to the world right now…and continue to do so when 2021 finally arrives…
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle…
If you’re not doing it already, start right now. Whether it’s paper, plastic, metal, glass, or textiles, most household waste can be recycled – and there’s no excuse not to do it. Thoroughly wash out empty packaging when you’ve finished with your product, and separate it into types. If you’re lucky enough to have one, make sure you use the designated recycling bin outside your house to dispose of your recycling or use the special recycling shoot in the garbage room of your apartment block for recyclable materials. Not got either one of those? Make the effort to find out where your local recycling bank is, and make a weekly trip there. Millions of tonnes of what could have been recycled waste go to landfills every year, and it’s our responsibility not to add to it.
And start composting too!
If you have a garden or even a balcony, composting food scraps is a super-economical and ecologically friendly way to look after your plants. Invest in an indoor compost bin to dispose of biodegradable food matter, and add to your outdoor compost pile to provide nutrients to your garden. The odor-preventing filter and compostable liner bags make composting super simple, you’re helping reduce the amount of waste you throw away while saving money and nurturing healthy plants.
Bokashi Bin, PRP AED 294, available at mygreenchapter.com
Stocking up on groceries from your local farmer’s markets or farm shop is a great way to support the local economy as well as reduce your carbon footprint by minimising waste and emissions from long-distance shipping. Dubai has come on leaps and bounds with regard to its organic food offering in recent years, so make the most of this burgeoning industry by buying as much local produce as you can.
Dubai favourite RIPE Market reopens for the winter season on October 1 at Dubai Police Academy Park, boasting a new farmer’s market area which will host up to eight farmers offering delicious, locally-grown produce at affordable prices.
Buying organic local produce ensures that you’re getting the most flavoursome, pesticide-free, and vitamin-dense foods around, as well as supporting regional industry, so if you’ve never been before, Greenheart Organic’s farm shop in Arjan is a must-try. A haven of organically-grown goodness, vegetables, and fruits on offer in this gem of a store are grown 100 percent chemical-free from Greenheart Organic’s own heirloom seeds and harvested daily from their farm in Sharjah.
Bring your containers to the supermarket
Despise the plastic containers that deli food comes in? We hear you. So why not take your own storage items to the supermarket when you shop? Make sure the counter assistant weighs the container before it’s filled so you don’t get charged for its weight as well as whatever you’re buying, and you’re set!
Bring your own bag
Reusable veggie bags are also brilliant to carry in your recycled shopping tote – not only do they look nice for storing your goods, but they also help produce to last longer. Combine all three options and you’ll reduce unnecessary plastic and paper bag use every time you shop for your groceries.
Buy second hand
Whether it’s clothes, furniture, books, cars, or electrical goods, buying secondhand is the savviest way to shop if you want to become more sustainably focused. Guaranteed to save you money as well as making zero impact upon the planet, if there’s an opportunity to buy something pre-loved that still makes your heart pound as if it were new, there’s no reason not to buy it.
The cyclical economy is central in fighting climate change, and being a part of it is easy – simply choosing not to buy new unless it’s absolutely essential makes you an active member of the initiative for change. Shaking off its negative connotations, buying secondhand is one of the simplest steps to minimizing the global waste issue, whilst the market for pre-loved luxury items is the biggest news in the fashion industry right now, generating millions of dollars each year.
Here in the UAE, the pre-loved market is growing daily. From flea markets and second-hand sales groups on Facebook to sustainable fashion boutiques like RETOLD and online pre-loved sites like The Luxury Closet, finding everything you need for a fraction of the price that makes a minimal impact on the planet is as easy as finding your nearest shopping mall.
Say “So Long” to sanitary towels and tampons
Did you know that the average woman has around 450 periods in her lifetime, and disposes of around 137kg of sanitary waste? Or that a year’s worth of disposable pads and tampons leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3kgCO2 per person? And that a tampon’s plastic applicator will take more than 500 years to decompose, if ever? All shocking statistics that are nothing but bad news for the environment. Since menstruation is a fact of life, sanitary protection is essential – but there is an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to pads and tampons that also won’t harm your body.
Menstrual cups have gained huge popularity in recent years, not only because they save the average woman thousands of dirhams on buying standard sanitary goods, but also because they have no negative impact upon the environment. Designed and made in Finland from soft, toxin-free medical-grade silicone, a Lunette menstrual cup can be used for up to 12 hours at a time, lasts at least two years with proper care and can be burned to ash when it’s ready to be replaced.
A brilliant solution for both the body and the environment, just one menstrual cup eliminates the need for up to six hundred tampons – saving around two years’ worth of waste sanitary products from damaging the environment.
Lunette Menstrual Cup, PRP AED 157.50, available at sprii.ae
Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth
If you’re guilty of leaving the tap on when you brush your teeth, stick a post-it note to the mirror to remind yourself how much water (and money) you’re wasting by being forgetful. By simply turning the tap off every time you brush your teeth, you can cut your water bill by an average of 13 percent every year, and save thousands of litres of water while you’re at it.
Donate your old devices
Help local children in need and save the planet by donating your old smartphones and laptops to charity. From now until the end of September, Stop & Help is asking UAE residents to recycle, reuse and repurpose their unwanted devices and donate them to families unable to afford the IT equipment required to continue their children’s education. Functioning secondhand laptops, smartphones, and tablets to give away can be registered here, where they’ll be matched with the children who need them most. Items can be personally dropped off or couriered to a designated family from as little as AED30, allowing givers to play a significant role in supporting their access to education during these extremely challenging times.