This story is part of livehealthy.ae‘s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 300 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
Ryan Ingram sure walks the talk when it comes to keeping his waste to an absolute minimum. During an interview earlier this year, he slowly ate every crumb of his Costa sandwich, sipped the last drop of his latte and used every square inch of the single napkin he surely wished was cloth rather than paper.
Born and raised in South Africa, he grew up fishing, hunting and bird-watching, going on to study environmental and nature conservation. After working for several companies in Ras Al Khaimah, he set up and managed the nature reserve for a hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. The experience gave him his first exposure to the waste involved in the hospitality industry and sparked the idea for a consultancy that would help companies find environmental solutions. In 2016 he opened TerraLoop, the region’s first such consultancy, with a focus on food waste and later added an educational arm, TerraEd, which works with schools.
Not surprisingly, Ingram has a hard time understanding why more people can’t – or won’t – realize that our global population is using 1.7 times the planet’s resources. And while a zero-waste lifestyle is impossible, he comes pretty close. Here are just some of the ways this father-of-three is setting an example both personally and professionally.
No takeaway coffee
I have a glass reusable bottle. I never buy coffee in a container. I’d rather not have a coffee than get a takeaway. I mean, if you’re really desperate for a coffee, you must be willing to sit for five minutes. Take more time for yourself and enjoy the coffee. Respect the coffee for what it is. Just consider the resources that it’s taken to get that paper cup and that plastic lid to you, the epic transportation involved, the production, distribution, the storage. And you use it for a few minutes and then you throw it away and it doesn’t even get back into the cycle? No. Respect the coffee for what it is. For me, it’s a no brainer.
Buy only the bare minimum
We decide on whether or not to take something that has packaging. And if it comes with packaging, can we recycle it? In IKEA, we bought a small white desk and a small table bin. Three weeks ago, we moved into a new place and the bin is still not full yet. We have two stackable front opening recycling segregation bins from IKEA; paper and plastic on top, cans and bottles below, also glass and metal. They’re not full yet, either.
Use a food dehydrator/composter
I freeze all my food waste — trimmings, bones, whatever — in a small container, which I then bring it to the office where we have a small dehydrator called the SmartCara. All the food waste from what the guys in the office order, we save. Then when there’s enough for one load, we put it in a jar and put it in the dehydrator. When it’s full, I’ll take it to Clarion School where there is the garden and they do composting and we add it to that process.
Plan your consumption
It simply means being more conscious. You are more efficient when you plan, strategize and organize. That’s how good businesses work, isn’t it? Whether you go to school or go to work, you plan everything that you have to do so why not plan your waste too? You can’t just ignore waste and when you start doing these things, you know you’re doing it for yourself and for the planet.
You have Dulsco, Averda and other companies that have recycling drop-off points in communities. Wherever we’ve stayed, we’ve always found them and used them. Making the right choices is simple, really.
Up next: In partnership with Covering Climate Now, livehealthy.ae reports on a NYU Abu Dhabi-led study on how the lacertid lizard is adapting to climate change.
Featured photo Ryan Ingram/Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.