DUBAI: Doua Benhida, a Dubai-based Zero Waste Speaker, sizes up the 5-day challenge undertaken by John Bull, Rasha Saleh and Gitali Sinha and presents her calculations of their carbon offset:
“What’s interesting to see is that the zero waste discipline depends on your lifestyle: whether you’re are a student, an employee on the go, or desk-bound, some swaps may seem more challenging than others,” says Doua.
That said, what can be seen from this challenge with just 3 volunteers in just 5 days, with the simplest swaps, is the individual carbon footprint they were able to offset, says Doua. “Doing simple swaps, one step at a time, is the most sustainable change you can work on, and it has a bigger impact than you can possibly imagine.
According to carbonfootprint.com, it takes roughly 1.3 kg of CO2 to produce just 0.5 kg of plastic, says Doua.
“Living plastic-free will enable us as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint to, ideally, to almost zero.
“Within just 5 days, the three people taking part of the challenge, were able to offset an estimated total 3,000 kg of Co2 by choosing simple zero waste alternatives such as carrying their own water bottles, coffee mugs, reusable bags and even prepared their lunch to go and taking their own cutleries.
“This enabled them to refuse single-use plastic water bottles, cutlery and plastic bags, along with other items. With simple efforts like these, they achieved a huge offset of their individual carbon footprint.”
“Many of us are not aware of the carbon footprint caused by our meat consumption. Meat farming has a huge negative impact on the environment due to all the natural resources it uses up: from water, to land and energy. Reducing your meat intake as a first step would have a huge positive impact.
“The volunteers avoided meat all week, and were vegetarian for 5 days. If they were to keep this over the course of a year, they would be able to offset 3,991 kg of Co2 a year. (Their 5-day contribution is being multiplied by 52 weeks.)
On the other hand, “If the three of them kept their meat diet, they would be producing and contributing to over 7,000kg of Co2 a year,” says Doua.
“This was a tricky part of the challenge: the selection of products was quite limited and not available in all markets. In addition, when it came to select other products such as dairy, the volunteers had to choose some with packaging such as milk or yogurt. So that conflicted with their plastic-free living for 5 days.
“Some vegetables would be wrapped in plastic which leads to the question: should we choose local but in plastic? Or plastic-free but from abroad? Why should we have to choose? The carbon footprint of the plastic wrapping vs the travel of the food to get to Dubai is to be considered.
The option of having plastic-free and local should be available.”
Being Zero Waste needs to become a lifestyle and easy for everyone regardless of status and lifestyle.
“We need to live in a loop where we buy, use and re-use. Currently, we are in a one-way lifestyle where we buy, use and waste. It is time to change and act before it’s too late,” says Doua.