The host of ten thousand golden ‘daffodils' tossing their heads in sprightly dance had brought such wealth to Wordsworth but, that was the 19th century. Today, no modern day poet could hope for such a mesmeric vision, not with ethylene in the air injuring the daffodils and even if one is fortunate enough to see their bloom, the fear that comes to every conscientious mind of their existence tomorrow can only produce a eulogy and not a ‘daffodil'. Call it cynicism but the truth remains the common is becoming uncommon, natural is becoming unnatural, the environment is on the brink of devastation.
According to the Living Planet Report, an annual report released by the World Wildlife Fund, the ‘ecological footprint' of the human beings has been ‘overshoot' by about 25 percent. Simply put human beings demands out of the nature far exceed its ability to cater to those demands. The earth's bio-capacity has fallen so much that it now takes approximately a year and three months for the Earth to produce the same ecological resources we use in a year. The greed of human beings have not spared a single living system, biodiversity for instance has been so impacted that statistics in the same study indicates a 31 percent decline between 1970 and 2003 of terrestrial species, freshwater species have been declining by 28 percent and marine species by 27 percent.
As much as we would like to point fingers at the developed nation like the US which is the major contributor of global carbon emissions, at 30 percent, the rapid rate of development that we are witnessing in the GCC also comes at an equally heavy cost - the average person in the UAE puts more demand on the global ecosystem than any other in the world, (the United States comes in second place) and Kuwait is fifth on this list.
According to a recent report in the Trends magazine, more than 120 million tonnes of waste is produced in the GCC countries each year. The UAE represents 20 percent of all the waste in the GCC and Saudi Arabia represents 60 percent. Also, the GCC is the largest exporter of fossil fuel, and economic development to date in much of the world has entailed burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale which in turn has resulted in increased emission of greenhouses gases.
However, for long now man in his quest to conquer the deepest Marina Trench to the highest K2 summit have turned a blind eye to the warning signs of the nature and so she has revolted- the Tsunamis, Cyclone Gonu, Hurricane Katrina are testimony to this. Fortunately more and more people are coming to realise the need to slow the maddening and destructive pace of development as witnessed today. Brilliant minds have come forward to advocate for the need to protect and preserve ecosystem.
Even the Gulf nations are making small amendments to make a difference, UAE for example are pioneering several indigenous projects such as the Dubai Recycling Park and the Masdar. But even this isn't significant considering the extent of damage already done, it's not left to the Corporate and Government alone to make the difference- it starts on an individual level. How you can do it and what are the latest developments is what we'll tell you. We owe it not just to ourselves and our future generations but also to the 5-10 million species or more we share the earth with!
Around your homes
1. Change your kitchen habits
Use reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping food in foil or plastic wrap. You can also use unbleached coffee filters, which does not produce the deadly toxin dioxin in its manufacturing. Use rags to wipe up spills instead of paper towels, and use biodegradable wax paper and bags.
2. Create less trash
Buy items in bulk from loose bins when possible to reduce the packaging wasted. Carry a canvas bag while shopping to avoid having to take plastic bags given by the shops. Avoid products with several layers of packaging when only one is sufficient. About 33 percent of what we throw away is packaging. Buy products that you can reuse.
3. Clean or replace air filters on ac
Do this at least once a month. During hot weather, a central air conditioner can account for 30 percent of your energy bill. A clean air filter improves system efficiency, which should lead to energy savings. The recommended thermostat setting is between 75°F and 78°F. Every degree you raise your thermostat can result in a 5 percent savings on the cost of cooling your home
4. Unplug things that glow
Anything that has an LED (light emitting diode) that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw power (that you pay for). Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are common culprits. Unplug the offenders from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. You could save up to USD200 a year.
5. Save water - do full loads
An average family of four washes about 540 loads of laundry a year, which consumes up to 21,000 gallons of water. Most of the energy consumed by washers goes toward heating the water, about 90 percent in the clothes washer. Combining half-loads, choosing short cycles, and using cold or warm rather than hot water in the clothes washer racks up savings.
6. Reduce toxicity
Eliminate mercury from your home by purchasing items without mercury, and dispose of items containing it at an appropriate drop-off facility when necessary (e.g. old thermometers). Learn about alternatives to household cleaning items that do not use hazardous chemicals. When no good alternatives exist to a toxic item, find the least amount required for an effective, sanitary result. Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint. Oil-based paint is highly toxic, and its manufacturing produces nasty pollutants.
7. Recycle electronics
Electronic wastes- old TVs, stereos, cell phones, and computers accounts for millions of pounds of chemicals and heavy metals that end up in the ground. If one million people recycled one cathode-ray tube TV this year, we'd keep 4 million pounds of lead out of the ground. Also, make use of the drop boxes placed across the Emirates by the Etisalat to dispose of your old handsets. Mygreenelectronics.org gives a list of electronics, from laptops to baby monitors that are easy on the environment and your energy bill.
AT YOUR OFFICE
1. Make best use of paper
It's not stinginess, it's conservation! Paper manufacture is estimated to account for nearly 13 percent of total wood use. The more paper you require the more number of trees felled. Help by- Copy and print on both sides of paper. Reuse items like envelopes, folders and paper clips. Use mailer sheets for interoffice mail instead of an envelope. Set up a bulletin board for memos instead of sending a copy to each employee.
2. Maximize computer efficiency
Computers in the business sector unnecessarily waste Dhs 1 billion worth of electricity a year. Make it a habit to turn off your computer and the power strip it's plugged into-when you leave for the day. Otherwise, you're still burning energy even if you're not burning the midnight oil. During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent.
3. 80% toner cartridges end up in landfills
A laser cartridge thrown into a landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose. Some of its components are made of industrial grade plastics and will take over a thousand years to decompose! So, print only when you need a hard copy. Set printer default settings to ‘draft.' Use the highest-quality printing setting only for final copies. Eliminate fax and printer confirmation sheets.
4. Invest in modular furniture
Modular components form the core of an environmentally efficient office design. Buying modular furniture helps you mix, match and grow without the need to reinvest in an entirely new look simplifying future purchasing decisions and reducing waste.
5. Use ceramic coffee mugs
If you buy three cups of coffee every workday for one year - that represents over 600 coffee cups that have ended up in the trash! Help replace that waste by choosing reusable ceramic coffee mugs instead of a disposable cup.
1. Go hybrid
The one consumer decision that impacts the greatest on the environment is the choice of car. Hybrid car offer drivers an innovative, efficient, and affordable option. A hybrid car features a small fuel-efficient gas engine combined with an electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating. The electric motor is powered by batteries that recharge automatically while you drive. To compare prices of hybrid cars visit www.fueleconomy.gov
2. Conserve fuel opt car pooling
A smart way to save fuel is to drive less! Combine trips as much as possible. Walk, ride a bicycle, use the transit or share a ride with another. Car pooling besides saving money and fuel also reduces traffic. Quick starts and heavy foot when the light turns green guzzles gas. For every 5mph you go beyond 55mph, you lose about one mile per gallon. Use radial tires to improve fuel economy by about one mile per gallon.
3. Keep the beach clean
Our oceans provide the earth with most of our oxygen, moisture, and weather patterns. To keep our oceans clean we have to start with our beaches. Plan ahead and bring a trash bag with you on your next trip. If you carry it in, carry it out. If you take food or beverages to the beach- the wrappers, the empty cans goes into the trash bag and not into the water!
4. Say no to
Boycott products that produce CFCs (ChloroFluoroCarbons destroy the ozone layer) Do not buy ivory or animal fur coats (Over 80 percent of the ivory that is taken, is from elephants). Say no to tuna (Over 6.5 million dolphins have been killed by tuna fisherman. Albacore and bonita are good alternatives)
CORPORATE AND GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES SETTING THE EXAMPLE: FOLLOW SUIT
1. Be an HSBC ‘carbon' copy
HSBC is the first major bank to go ‘carbon neutral'. It reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to zero by reducing energy use, buying green electricity and then offsetting the remaining CO2 emissions by investing in carbon credit or allowance projects - as part of a package of environmental measures announced by the bank to help tackle climate change.
2. Emaar recycling bags for residents
Dubai's largest real estate, Emaar Properties under its new recycling initiative, Earth Watch estate developer, provides two recycling tools- cardboard boxes for all paper waste and plastic bags for beverage containers, metal cans and cups to its residents. Earth Watch representatives will collect the boxes and bags and provide new sets every week. It is a comprehensive system for recycling and will reduce waste in home garbage by 30 to 40 percent.
3. Organic foods in polyester bags
Organic Foods and Café were the first in the UAE to introduce cotton bags - giving shoppers Dhs 2 back each time they reused them in their outlets. Now it's also the first to start using fully biodegradable packaging. They have replaced traditional expanded polystyrene trays with those made from PLA – an environmentally-friendly corn-based polymer. In ideal conditions, these cartons and trays break down in a compost heap quicker than a banana skin!
4. Ford can afford
The Ford Motor Company Conservation & Environmental Grants program is one of the world's largest environmental and conservation grants efforts, offering funds in over 50 participating countries, including the GCC since the year 2000. It's meant to provide support to organizations and individuals that focus on preservation of the natural environment and support conservation in a noteworthy manner.
5. Shaza hotel leads the way!
Shaza Hotels has announced that all of its upcoming hotel developments will be certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards – the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of eco-friendly buildings: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The certification is the first of its kind across an entire hotel brand in the region.
6. Fuel from dates
With the Middle East's fast depleting fossil fuel reserves, Oman Green Energy Company (OGEC) is planning to produce biofuel from plant cellulose derived from dates. With an initial investment of USD28.65 million in a biofuel production facility that will initially turn out 900,000 tonnes of ethanol annually, with further investments the output could be increased to 4.8 million tonnes a year. The effort besides contribute to the economy, boosting the agriculture sector, considerably reduces pollution.
7. Masdar- the ideal city
Masdar - a city free of cars, pedestrian-friendly, powered by renewable energy and surrounded by wind and photovoltaic farms. This USD5billion plan is envisaged for Abu Dhabi. When complete, in 2009, it will be the nearest thing yet to a zero-carbon, zero-waste city. Using the traditional planning principles of a walled city, together with existing technologies to achieve sustainable development, this six sq km expanse will house an energy, science and technology community.
8. Recreating the bygones
Saudi Arabia will host the world's biggest system of botanical gardens and landscapes. Spreading over an area of 160 hectares (395 acres) the gardens aim to re-create the 400 million-year-old history of the Earth's plants, trees and flowers. The project will cost USD100 million to be completed by 2010. The gardens will include- scientific gardens; water gardens; international gardens, and paleo-botanic gardens, which recreate the history of plants.
9. Green diesel
The introduction of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) or the ‘Green Diesel', considered a cleaner alternative, with less exhaust emissions, but similar in power and efficiency with the ordinary diesel has been approved by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
10. Dubai Recycling Park
The Dubai Recycling Park (DRP) Middle East's first fully integrated waste management and recycling park will set up several recycling park made up of various recycling plants, to service the waste generated by the 550 units in Dubai Industrial City. The DRP is planned to become fully operational in May 2009. The project is an initiative by the National Projects Holding Co. of Kuwait. DRP
Source: Arabian Woman