Amruta Kshemkalyani is a professional sustainability consultant and founder of the UAE-based environmental community Sustainability Tribe, as well as mum to six-year-old Ruhaan. As a passionate advocate of green issues, she explains how she balances raising a family in the UAE with her eco-friendly convictions.
During my lectures and workshops, I always explain sustainability as a right balance of social, economical and environmental aspects of development. As a sustainability professional, I implement it in my work and in my personal life.
I have a slightly different opinions about these buzzwords, however. On one hand it’s good that society is building an interest in this field, but on the other hand these words are adding confusion. These words are used for ‘greenwashing’ products and services to make them sound more attractive to consumers.
So, as a consumer, we need to be careful and not blindly believe when we see these buzzwords. Through Sustainability Tribe, I aim to help people find authentic sustainable solutions.
Living green in the UAE
It is possible to lead a sustainable lifestyle in UAE with some effort. My family and I have been living a sustainable lifestyle for more than 13 years in UAE. These days it is much easier than a few years back. The government is building a good infrastructure in terms of sustainability. For example recycling stations and public transport are more easily available now and there are many more sustainable products and services, available in the local market now.
What steps do you take?
We think about how not to buy items and instead to reuse or repurpose items. Then it’s about what to buy, how to buy (meaning remembering to bring our own reusable bags and containers), how to dispose items (recycle and compost). It also impacts what family activities we do (generally it involves more experiences than material things). We do things like regular beach and desert clean ups. Even our parenting style is affected — choosing where to stay, where to go on weekends... The entire lifestyle is inclined to keep our focus on environmental and social sustainability. It’s not just our regular routine that is sustainably-focused, but special occasions like social gatherings, birthday parties, festivities and even holidays.
What do you do on a daily basis?
We do a lot of small things on a daily basis, including a big list of things we don’t consume or use, like plastic bags, single-use items, paper, certain unsustainable or packaged foods...
We use reusable items every day — we pack water, coffee, tea, snacks, lunches before we leave home. We save resources like water, electricity, fuel and reduce waste on an everyday basis by maintaining certain disciplines in our household. We segregate our waste and recyclables. Our school runs are done on foot and we walk or use public transport when possible. I grow some herbs on my balcony in our own little organic garden. We also make sure we enjoy our family time regularly with good activities, excluding digital devices.