Several countries in the Middle East, including the UAE, generates on average 2kg of waste every day for every man, woman and child. During Ramadan, that figure increases significantly, according to Bioenergyconsult. Waste is a fundamental global issue and the Middle East has made great strides in dealing with this worldwide problem, such as increasing green areas, developing water resources, and improving marine environment and protecting it from pollution.
Veolia Middle East is working to raise awareness about environmental challenges, particularly during Ramadan.
“The ways in which communities produce and consume food is one of the major threats to the planet and remains at the top of the many causes of climate change,” says Sébastien Chauvin, the company’s CEO. “Together, if we play our part in adopting a greener lifestyle, we can ensure that resources and the environment are used in a sustainable manner.”
In the remaining days of the holy month, Veolia shares six steps on how to decrease food waste, how to be smarter about shopping and preparing food and how to change the amount we consume daily.
Recycle, reduce, reuse
Gulf countries are among the top 10 per capita waste generators in the world and only 10 percent of it is recycled. Education on segregating, recycling, reducing and reusing is the cornerstone of sustainable development. Follow these five top tips to help reduce waste around the home:
– Instead of using plastic bags, take reusable bags and Tupperware when going shopping or also use them when packing food or leftovers.
– Always shop responsibly. When going out, purchase items that are easy to recycle and avoid items that are individually wrapped or sold in single servings. Buying in bulk helps to reduce waste.
– Create a compost bin and throw food scraps and various yard waste into it.
– Start recycling. Using trash removal and recycling services helps manage waste effectively
– Go paperless. Most stores offer digital versions of receipts. You can also get bills online and on smart devices instead of receiving paper bills by post.
Not sure on how to separate and recycle your waste? Take a look at this guide.
Choose plastic-free produce
Plastic packaging is a key factor in plastic pollution. According to ourworldindata, packaging generates a staggering 140 million tonnes of plastic waste worldwide each year. When doing grocery shopping, choose plastic-free produce by:
– Taking special cotton and reusable bags to the grocery store. Use one big bag for most food items and then smaller bags for vegetables and fruits
– Buying in bulk, which is a great way to cut back on unwanted cardboard, tins and plastic packaging for items like rice, beans, granola, pasta and a whole host of snacks.
– Store your food in glass containers instead of plastic
– Choose wooden utensils instead of plastic ones
Choose low carbon ingredients
The food system is responsible for a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Making simple changes to buying and eating habits can have a huge and positive impact. Buying low-carbon foods help to reduce pollution, preserve the environment and slow down global warming. Many of these changes will also save you money and improve overall health. Here are some smart, food choice strategies to adopt, to help both people and the planet:
– Choose local produce. Supporting local businesses will not only help to reduce carbon footprint but also increase community health, promote agriculture, local prosperity and reduce the use of plastic.
– When visiting local food markets, go further and buy organic. Organic food is often fresher as it does not contain preservatives, it contains fewer pesticides and is better for the environment.
– Try and limit meat and dairy intake. The meat industry today is very energy- intensive, which heavily impacts climate change.
– Cut down on processed foods. Not only are they less healthy but they also come with too much packaging. Manufacturing them takes a lot more energy which raises carbon emissions and damages the environment.
According to estimates by EcoMena, around 55 percent of household waste is thrown away every day during Ramadan so try to plan meals in advance and make a list of exactly which ingredients you need and stick to it when you shop. It will save money, time and last-minute stress. Making a note in advance of your friends’ food preferences also ensures the food you serve is eaten rather than left to be thrown away. And serve leftovers the next day or share them with family and friends.
Experiment with a green Iftar
Vegan food iftars are becoming ever more popular, thanks to growing awareness of how meat and dairy industries work. This Ramadan try a meatless iftar once a week. Not only can adopting a vegan diet help to detox the body, it can also reduce the environmental impact as it saves on precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.
Have a plastic-free iftar
The problem of packaging cannot be overestimated. Most plastics end up in the seas and oceans and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. During Ramadan, try to limit plastic use. Have a plastic-free Iftar. Replace single use plastic dishes with glass dishes, or choose recyclable and compostable material like bamboo and use metal or paper straws instead of plastic.
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