Every year since 1970, Earth Day brings together the world’s countries and communities in a bid to highlight how important it is to assist mother nature when it comes to restoring equilibrium among our precious planetary ecosystems.
But this year, the need has never been more critical, says Sébastien Chauvin, chief executive of Veolia Middle East.
“It is our duty to do whatever we can to reduce water consumption, electricity wastage as well as actively recycle whenever possible,” he says.
The company, which works across the spectrum of environmental services, recently launched an Ecological Transformation campaign to change patterns of production and consumption. They provide six tips so individuals, communities and businesses to make lasting changes.
- Avoid plastic disposables
One of the major threats to marine ecosystems in the Middle East, disposable plastics are a long-term challenge when it comes to restoring natural balance. Consider that a one-time use plastic grocery bag takes 10 to 20 years to break down, and a throwaway water bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose. Other plastics that are a bit stronger can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
So, our advice would be to fill up a permanent water bottle, no matter where you are headed, and take your lunch to work in a reusable container. Use your own multi-use, non-plastic bag at the supermarket for groceries. Skip straws in your beverages and request no plastic utensils if you order from an online delivery service — most of them how feature this option. We would also suggest using a bamboo toothbrush, which eliminates unnecessary waste but offers the same hygiene benefits as a regular plastic brush.
- Volunteer to clean up
Volunteering to clean up is one of the most impactful and simplest Earth Day tips, because you really don’t need to join any group effort or organization, although there are usually pre-planned activities across social media in your area that you can sign up to.
You could help clean up your local park, the beach, roadsides, or just the city streets or environment around your home or workplace. With a positive attitude, some work gloves, and a mask, you can make a real difference to your community.
- Make recycling a habit
We understand that it’s impossible to completely avoid plastic bottles and bags. However, if you are in possession of disposable plastics, then make sure you recycle it properly. And, of course, the same goes for paper materials, glass, metals, batteries, etc.
Recycling is one of the best ways to help the environment. To spread the recycling reflex in our community, Veolia Middle East has recently launched RECAPP, the UAE’s first free-of-charge, digital, door-to-door service collection. All Abu Dhabi’s residents can continue this important habit every day by downloading the RECAPP app.
- Cut back on fish
There is a high demand for seafood, which in turn is driving some species towards extinction. However, by simply cutting back on fish, we can greatly assist in restoring our marine ecosystems. In the UAE and across the world we have seen many entities take great actions to help combat overfishing and we can also help assist at an individual level too.
To help protect oceans and marine life, try to eliminate fish from diets or refrain from eating fish daily. Remember, the food system is also responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, so making simple changes to eating habits, like avoiding fish or meat, can have a huge impact on our carbon footprint.
- Conserve water
Although 71 percent of the Earth is covered in water, only 3 percent of the Earth’s water is freshwater and just 0.5 percent is suitable for drinking. With rapid growing population rates and such a small percentage of the Earth’s water suitable for drinking, it is fundamental to preserve and conserve water as much as possible. Preserving water at home and at work minimizes the effects of drought and water shortages, helps preserve the environment, ensures water is available for recreational purposes and builds safe communities. There are various simple tips that can be practiced at home to help preserve water, including taking shorter showers, installing water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors, turning off water while brushing teeth, using dishwashers, and washing machines for only full loads and checking pipes and faucet for leaks.
- Give composting a try
There are lots of good reasons to compost, mainly because it saves saves resources and improves soil. Composting is also extremely good for the environment and it is an excellent way to grow healthy and nutritious food. Composting at home is also a great source of recycling too, as it keeps as much as 30 percent of waste from going into the bin. From diverting household waste, this naturally decreases the need for plastic bin bags.