How to go Green in Dubai
With the recent deregulations of fuel prices, now more than ever, is the perfect time to go green in Dubai. While many may think it is impossible, with a little effort from everyone, we can make a difference. The experts show us how…
Dubai, over the past four decades has rapidly turned from a small fishing village and trading hub into a mega city featuring man-made islands, the world’s tallest tower, an indoor ski slope (with another even longer one on the way), twisted towers and super malls. It even boasts of one of the busiest airports in the world, with a second soon poised to take over. The city, as a whole, has defied the restrictions of nature, literally rising from the desert sands. What’s more, the construction boom is far from over.
Unfortunately, that pace of development has not been matched by a growth in the city’s environmental credentials.
In Dubai, the average person uses 20,000 kilowatt-hours of energy and 130 gallons of water per year – 82 percent above the global average.
Despite this, experts say Dubai’s ecological challenges are not unique.
“The environmental issues facing Dubai are typical of any growing metropolitan city,” Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) chairperson Habiba Al Marashi tells Dubai Week.
“Dubai continues to attract large numbers of people and as such our city is expanding rapidly with its problems of high consumption of environmental resources, high waste output, land being converted for construction and development.
“Our environmental footprint, in particular our energy and water footprints, should be minimised, which is a great challenge as Dubai continues to grow and flourish.”
She adds: “Desertification and drought are also some of the serious challenges that affect our ecology and ability to produce food and other items. Achieving food security is a major issue since we are heavily dependent on imports of food and other essentials.”
Habiba says though that these challenges are not being ignored.
“Dubai is taking the right measures to realise its ‘Sustainability Vision’. Lots of projects and initiatives – from building a Smart City, establishing a green economy to energy diversification and solar energy – are underway, focusing on key elements of sustainability,” Habiba adds.
Still it is clear that Dubai lags behind some countries in the race to go green. For instance, in Sweden, it was widely reported that inhabitants had become so proficient at recycling that the Scandinavian nation had “run out of rubbish”.
For those who want to work towards such an end in Dubai, no matter how far off it might seem, there are initiatives going on says Habiba.
Citing her group’s own initiatives she says: “We have special projects which are being run every year like the ‘Neighbourhood Recycling Campaign’ which saw over 17,000 people cleaning various communities last year. There’s also Your Can for a Tree Campaign, which attracted over 4,500 participants and the One Root One Communi- Tree Campaign which had over 12,000 volunteers in 2014. EEG’s annual Clean up the UAE campaign also involved 123,421 residents last year,” adds Habiba.
EEG has also placed recycling centres and cages in several schools, universities and corporate offices (see box – right), while some families drop off their recycling at the EEG office in Jumeirah on a regular basis.
“The first step in environmental protection is to raise awareness and to teach people how important it is to recycle their wastes,” she concludes. The next step is taking action.
Bokashi is Japanese term for “fermented organic matter,” a unique simple way of turning your kitchen waste into an organic compost soil conditioner.
Numerous households in Dubai have been doing this process to discard fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy and even bones right in your kitchen without the requirements of turning it like you do outdoor compost, and without creating unpleasant odours.
The Bokashi composting process is made by inoculating bran with a variety of beneficial bacteria or micro-organisms. These microbes pickle your food waste instead of letting it rot, creating liquid plant food and wonderful compost in the process which will become extra nutrients for good use in the garden, rather than sending them to a landfill.