Bringing change with best practices
08/29/2009 11:23 PM | By Sanya Nayeem, Deputy Readers Editor
As Gulf News Wipe Out Waste campaign comes to a close, today, we asked readers who were impacted by the initiative to step forward and share lessons learned. Their experiences were as creative as they were diverse.
One uniting factor that brought them together was their eagerness to make a difference, no matter how small. We salute their initiative and urge people across the UAE to wipe out waste — of time, emotions, money and resources — for a healthier, happier future.
Gulf News readers adopt and spread campaign message
It's no secret — human beings are notorious for living beyond their means and turning a deaf ear to any signs of imminent peril.
But how long would it take to exhaust all our resources? When would time run out? Gulf News did not wait to find out.
Over the past six months, Gulf News' Wipe Out Waste (WoW) campaign revealed some startling facts about how wasteful habits are costing individuals in hours, dirhams, emotions and health.
In depth: Wipe Out Waste
The campaign explored a different topic every week, to get an indication of just how many vast and vital resources people unwittingly squander away in their lifetime.
The results were devastating. From food, water and money to time, electricity and energy, everything that has a potential of being wasted is already deep within the landfills of history.
Even as perfectly edible leftover food finds its way into the garbage bin, 100 million people are dying annually due to hunger or hunger-related diseases.
If that sounds too morbid, consider the seemingly harmless baby nappy or diaper — one billion trees are cut down every year to manufacture them.
People make a difference
It is clear that the everyday actions of individuals are adding up to lasting, irreversible consequences — a burden often borne by the entire world.
But no matter how bleak the future may seem, there is respite.
It arrives as one word, elusive but measurable, the very pivot on which our survival depends: change.
Guiding readers down the path of efficiency and simple living, Gulf News put your life under a magnifying glass and dared you to embrace it.
The WoW campaign delved into a comprehensive examination of people's lifestyles and revealed how best to utilise all its aspects.
It aimed to revolutionise the way individuals perceived their impact on finances, time and surroundings in order to live a more efficient, less stressful life. Not an easy task, but neither impossible.
Experts from business management organisations provided clarity into the events of the workplace. Professionals gave readers an insight into the workings of their companies and how their corporate decisions affected the environment.
Carbon footprint came into focus and Gulf News readers from around the emirates stepped up to share their best practices and influence others to make a difference.
Today, after a six-month run, the WoW campaign is winding down and wrapping up. But the effort to live a wholesome life, within our means, continues, especially as our readers take it a step further.
C. Sunil Roy
Advertising professional, based in Dubai
WoW habit: Saving money
When the going got tough, Roy decided he would make a small, but essential change in his daily routine. He has lowered his tea intake and saves the money instead.
He said: "I've stopped carrying change or buying unnecessary items. I've noticed that at least 10 per cent of our purchases at grocery stores are really not required. My daughter has learned from me and has taken up saving, too!"
By becoming more constructive, Roy said he has wiped out the waste of negative emotions, too. And thanks WoW for it.
Grade 11 pupil, based in Dubai
WoW habit: Conserving water
Raising funds for water-deprived villages is just one of the ways Ghose is working to conserve water.
He said: "Water sanitation and conservation is a serious issue. Earlier, I would use water without thinking, but I've started to become more conscious."
Ghose's family has made the switch, too. They blow dry their driveway instead of washing it with water and have also reduced the use of sprinklers in their garden.
Ghose has teamed up with his schoolmate Edward Pollock to launch a water conservation campaign to raise money for water-deprived villages in India and around the world, inspired by Gulf News WoW effort .
Homemaker, based in Dubai
WoW habit: Creating innovative alternatives
Disgusted with the extravagant use of plastic bags, Kumar decided to make her own shopping bags — out of fabric!
She now takes cloth alternatives to supermarkets and uses them to carry fruits, vegetables and other purchases.
Kumar also uses leftover vegetable oil to light lamps around her home, thereby cutting her electricity costs.
She said: "Two tablespoons of oil gives me light for almost three hours — and it looks beautiful!"
It's a win-win situation, according to Kumar. All it requires is a little imagination, which is where Gulf News campaign helped, she added.
Homemaker, based in Dubai
WoW habit: Recycling
When faced with a pile of waste, Siby ensures that not everything ends up in a landfill. She analyses if certain items can be reused or recycled and then goes about making it happen. She was "deeply affected" by the statistic
in a WoW coverage on waste of food that stated 25,000 people die of hunger each day.
Whether it is returning clothes hangers to the laundry store or dropping off paper and cardboard boxes at the nearest recycling centre, Siby ensures that nothing is wasted.
She said: "I even tried to use vegetable peels to fertilise my plants! It is time we give back to the world, or Nature will never forgive us."
Accountant, based in Sharjah
WoW habit: Cooking smart
Wasteful habits in the kitchen can wreak havoc with one's time, energy and emotions. For Dinu, it was the ideal place to wipe out waste.
She said: "While cooking , we tend to leave the tap or the gas burner on, even when we're not using it . I became more conscious about such practices ... after following the WoW campaign."
Simple energy-saving habits such as using pressure cookers, keeping the lid on vessels and switching off appliances from the wall sockets helped Dinu make a lasting change.
Grade 4 pupil, based in Dubai
WoW habit: Going green
Green is the colour of conservation, according to the nine-year-old. She planted a sea grape tree in her apartment
building's garden — it was her personal contribution to a greener planet.
Basu said: "Global warming is something we would not have heard about 100 years ago, but it is one of the critical issues facing mankind today."
For this young eco-warrior, learning about environmental issues from Gulf News' campaign and becoming a proactive part of the solution is the way to go.
She is involved in several school projects geared toward protecting the Earth.
Teacher, based in Sharjah
WoW habit: Saying 'no' to plastic bags
To change the world, one must begin from home. For Blackmore, eliminating the use of plastic bags is key to a healthier, safer planet.
But the responsibility to instill green values belongs to parents and municipal authorities.
She said: "I believe in the concept of a two-pronged effect. Children learn from adults and it is up to parents, schools and municipal bodies to initiate positive action."
She uses Gulf News distributed jute bags for groceries and to carry items such as paper for recycling.
Homemaker, based in Sharjah
WoW habit: Saving time
Unlike resources that can be replenished, time once wasted, is impossible to recover. Once Nair understood this with the WoW campaign, she changed the way she perceived life.
"I realised I was giving less priority to things I loved to do and spending more time doing tedious things I didn't like."
She began by "de-cluttering" her home and becoming more organised. Planning ahead and multitasking allows her to save time, especially while cooking.
Nair said: "Time spent happily is best spent. I've wiped out thinking negatively and dwelling on regrets. It gives me a sense of accomplishment."
Have your say
How has WoW impacted your life? What best practices have you included in your daily lifestyle? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the comments form below.