Abu Dhabi: When the Al Nowais family embarked on their National Geographic 360º Energy Diet 12 weeks ago, they didn't know just how much it would impact their lives or open their eyes to different international environmental practices.
"It's been a fun, stressful 12 weeks. But I don't regret any of it and I wouldn't change anything… I've always been interested in the environment and conservation so when I heard about the challenge, I approached the National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine and 10 days later, we were in!" Boudour, a graphic designer for an Arabic daily newspaper, said.
Along with her husband, Mohammad Ali Al Nowais, an accountant at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and her three children, Ali, 6; Hassan, 4; and Fatima, 2, Boudour began by examining their home consumption and then seeing what they could do to offset their initial carbon footprint.
"When we began to compile our information, I was shocked at the level of waste at home, even though I try to be as eco friendly as possible. For example, we discovered that during a typical week we would drink water from 96 125ml bottles, 48 300ml bottles and 24 1.5 litre bottles. Now, we've shifted to a water dispenser and our plastic bottle consumption has dropped greatly," she said.
As part of their challenge, each family was given a checklist of practices that had to be completed, which at first glance appeared daunting for the Emirati family, but they were able to accomplish most of their tasks. That caused them to tie with a Mexican family with 595 points, and both families will be provided with a special recognition award by National Geographic for their outstanding efforts.
"When we first started out, my family and friends thought I was crazy, especially since my husband and I have hectic jobs and one of our children is constantly sick and so has to be taken to the hospital. But I was very pleased and humbled when towards the end of the challenge, a relative told me how proud she was of our efforts and asked me to teach her to be eco-friendly!" Boudour said.
The Al Nowais' participation in the challenge was coordinated by the National Geographic. The Emirati family competed against eight other families from Canada, Slovenia, Mexico, Egypt, Japan, Sweden, India and the US. Their efforts were chronicled in their blog entries, which are available on http://360energydiet.com/
"This experience has taught us all a lot about being eco friendly in Abu Dhabi… hopefully, more people will take up this practice and make it a lifestyle, especially Emiratis who aren't usually concerned about the environment as they are used to currently living excessive, luxurious lifestyles. However, that is slowly changing, and hopefully we can all continue educating our children about the importance of conservation, which will cause a positive change in the future," Boudour said.