World Water Day has been held on March 22 every year since 1993 and focuses on the importance of fresh water and specifically on how water and climate change are inextricably linked. This global calendar day was launched as a campaign to educate, inspire and drive action for change, showing how sustainable practices will reduce floods, droughts, water scarcity and pollution, and will help fight climate change itself.
You have no doubt come across the terms “global warming,” “climate change,” “ozone depletion” and a host of others that all point to the deterioration of the earth’s natural environment. You are also likely to have also become aware of the research and predictions about the subsequent devastating impact of environmental degradation on the lives of human beings and animals. It paints a bleak picture for future generations. In response, there has been more global noise in recent years about sustainable living; it’s a movement that sees us rethinking and readjusting our practices and habits as both individuals and organizations, to consume as few non-renewable natural resources as possible and minimize our carbon footprint and environmental impact. This type of living involves leaving the earth relatively untouched by our actions. In other words, we should leave it as we found it – or in a better state, where possible.
At Azraq, our mission is to strive for a cleaner, healthier ecosystem by putting an end to the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the oceans. Seventy percent of our planet’s surface is covered in water and is home to diverse life forms, including marine plants which supply about 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe in, as well as food. All living things on Earth rely heavily on the oceans for sustenance and by using water more efficiently, we will ultimately reduce greenhouse gases. And we cannot afford to wait. Companies and organizations like Azraq must put water at the heart of action plans, as everyone within our community has a role to play.
There are surprisingly easy steps we can all take in our daily lives to address climate change. Here are five ways to get you started on the path to more sustainable living:
Implementing small changes in the household and our daily lifestyles truly makes a big difference. Think simple tactics such as using energy-saving light bulbs or adding a programmable thermostat for efficient heating and cooling, each of which can go a long way in reducing your ecological footprint. Go green by driving green. That means walking more, biking, carpooling or using public transport, which can decrease carbon emissions.
Say no to plastics
More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally each year. Plastic packaging – single-use material designed for immediate disposal – makes up 50 percent of plastic waste. Thousands of fish, seabirds, sea turtles and other marine animals die every day due to either ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in it. Fight for our oceans by opting for reusable grocery bags and ditching single-use straws, bags and bottles, to help cut back on plastic pollution.
Be a conscious shopper
Shockingly, our clothes are one of the largest sources of primary microplastics – tiny plastic particles that measure less than five millimetres and are detrimental to our oceans. When we wash clothing made from synthetics such as acrylic, nylon and polyester, microfibres are released into waterways. So educate yourself so that next time you go shopping, you can understand where your clothes come from and how they are made. And watch out for hidden traps: many designers have unfortunately claimed to be sustainable, but the reality is their clothing is made from recycled plastic. This is classic green-washing and so many people are buying into this, thinking it is a great solution to marine debris, when in fact it is causing greater damage for our oceans because of the microplastics. To combat microplastics, it is also worth knowing that there are filters you can install in washing machines to collect microfibres and Guppyfriend Washbags and Cora Balls that offer a circular solution to the issue of ocean conservation.
Eat better and cleaner
Approximately 1.3 tonnes of edible food is wasted annually, which means the natural resources that went into making the food are also effectively wasted. One way to prevent food wastage is to plan your grocery shopping, which means buying only what you need and thinking of creative ways to consume it. Also, as difficult as it may sound, cutting down on meat consumption can also have a drastically positive impact. The meat industry is among the top most environmentally damaging industries, responsible for vast levels of pollution, water use, habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s not easy getting to grips with sustainability and meaningful action, but one thing is clear: as individuals, we must make substantial daily changes to ensure the preservation of our water resources. The future of this planet does not lie solely in one person’s hands, but with all of us, corporations and consumers alike. We have to take responsibility for our part in the depletion of our oceans and take measures to try and protect it.
Watch what you put down the drain
There are so many ways to reduce wastewater use. Can you believe that simply turning off the tap while you brush your teeth can save six litres of water per minute? This also nicely leads us on to taking a shorter shower and always ensuring you put on a full load in your washing machine and dishwasher. Other simple changes include inserting a displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. You can get one of these from your water provider. Lastly, one more top tip: invest in water-efficient goods when you need to replace household products. You can now get water-efficient showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many other water-saving products. And let’s not forget to be mindful of what we put down the drain. The cleaning products you use to clean your home end up down the drain.They will enter and contaminate waterways and flow into the oceans, so use environmentally-friendly cleaning products that don’t contain harmful chemicals. You can also make your own, using natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and citrus fruit like lemons and oranges to clean your home in a greener way.
Natalie Banks started her career as a journalist and media adviser in Australia before moving into the not-for-profit sector. A certified scuba diving instructor and marine conservationist, she was instrumental in organizing national and international rallies against the use of drum lines and shark nets in Australia in favor of non-lethal alternatives, later striating up her own association, No Shark Cull. After moving to Dubai, Banks formed and developed Azraq to educate and motivate people toward a more sustainable form of living.