Participants of an awareness drive at Sharjah's Buhairah Corniche. Image Credit: Rohan Kapur

Sharjah

Chinese philosopher Confucius said: “I hear and I may forget. I see and I may remember. But, when I do, I shall understand.”

The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. If they inculcate eco-conservation habits at an early age, they will carry the same with them, throughout their youth.

Air pollution affects over 80 per cent of people living in urban areas, as stated by a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. Keeping this in mind, and in order to raise awareness about the rising air pollution levels in the region, we organised an event called ‘Solution to Pollution’, in collaboration with Bee’ah, Sharjah’s environmental management company.

The campaign included a creative walkathon and two competitive events in the vicinity of Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah.

The walkathon, called ‘Walk to Reduce Air Pollution Silently’ (Wraps), was the first of its kind in the region, with over 150 participants from all around the country, primarily children. The eco-warriors walked silently, highlighting their innovative solutions for pollution through their powerful, attention-grabbing placards.

Early in the morning on a weekend, passersby, joggers, motorists, worshippers heading to the mosque, and anyone else we crossed paths with, stopped and looked at the parade of change-makers. Contrary to conventional methods of shouting slogans to grab attention, a silent campaign created a larger, unprecedented impact, supported by the black clothes and face masks that all participants wore, to highlight the menace of air pollution.

The campaign also hosted an e-waste collection drive, comprising computers and peripherals, mobile phones, ceiling fans, microwaves, transformers, printers, water dispensers, wires and batteries. In a nutshell, we saved and diverted more than 140,794kg of carbon dioxide emissions — a whopping amount of savings — from a single event. In simple terms, this is equal to the amount of energy needed to run 15 homes for a year, or the equivalent of removing 30 cars off the road for an entire year.

All the items were duly taken away by Bee’ah’s workers to their recycling yards, thus diverting it from landfills.

Another primary purpose of this event was to raise awareness about the e-waste bin provided by Bee’ah outside Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah, and about depositing e-waste at this designated place.

The top collectors of the e-cyclethon, based on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions diverted, and the people with the most creative and conceptually sound placards were awarded by Bee’ah.

Anjum Hasan, a teacher based in Sharjah, stated: “Let’s kill it before it kills us! Air pollution is truly a silent killer.”

Air pollution can be significantly reduced by using public transport and using electric and hybrid cars. In the UAE, the authorities are very active about eco-conservation. They organise many environmentally friendly events, such as the Dubai Car Free Day, which was organised recently by Dubai Municipality. Many electric car charging stations are also provided in Dubai and many hybrid taxis are now available.

Fernando Gabaon, events logistics coordinator at Bee’ah, was amazed by the e-waste collection and the creativity of young students, when it came to designing innovative placards.

He said: “The silent walk is something I have never seen before. Over 100 students holding placards, walking silently and spreading awareness to curb air pollution has created an indelible impression in my mind.”

I would like to encourage all readers to come and participate in lead events such as these, and to be innovative when fighting menaces that plague our society. Our group, ‘Serve the heroes’, is active on social media and we share details of such events on our Facebook page.

 

— The reader is a student based in Sharjah.

 

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