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Gitali Sinha, Grade 9, Gems Modern Academy, Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

GITALI SINHA, Grade 9, Gems Modern Academy, Dubai

This is not the end of the challenge,” says Gitali, whose enthusiasm to be a part of the 5-day Sustainability Challenge bordered on the infectious. “These five days influenced me in a positive way and have taught me self-resistance and boosted my resolve to be more environmentally conscious,” she says. So inspired by the challenge was she that she would like to continue with the concept “as it makes me feel like a better person and that, as an individual, I am ensuring a decrease in my carbon footprint.”

No stranger to eco-initiatives, Gitali, along with other students — Teresa Mary, Yashshvi Deswal, Nandita Babu and Safia Aftab - is part of a group called The Green Dare, which has distributed reusable bags, free of cost, to families in the UAE. “Our initial idea was to distribute 50 reusable large bags, made of eco-friendly polyethylene terephthalate, as an alternative to the standard bags.

“We have made it our single-minded goal to make a positive difference to society, in order to reduce plastic waste for a better, brighter and safer future for us all.

“By impacting the present, we continue to aim for a better future for our unborn children. We will continue to keep doing our part, and we sincerely hope and plea that you will join us and do your part as well,” she says.

Here is Gitali’s snapshot of her 5-day challenge:

Going plastic-free: I went shopping at a grocery store, I took along my own cloth bag on Day 1. Day 2 when groceries were delivered in plastic bags, I returned them to the delivery person so he could reuse them. When I went to buy stationery items, I forgot to take along my cloth bag so I carried the items in my hand but did not accept a plastic bag. I also used about 10-12 mesh bags to buy flowers, and other items (groceries) during the five days. I would have otherwise needed to use plastic bags for all of the purchases.

How many bags did I save? About 21.

Going meat-free: On Day 1, I opted to not have 2 meat meals and for the rest of days of the challenge I avoided meat. My normal diet pattern for the five days would have included: a portion of steak, 2 servings of chicken curry, two servings of meat curry, a chicken burger at the school canteen, a chicken wrap from the school canteen and one serving of chicken biryani.

Eat local, buy local: I bought milk made in the UAE and vegetables (including carrots and tomatoes) grown locally. I shopped at a place that processes many staples such as grains, legumes and dals, etc, locally so these could be a part of my meal. Through the 5 days, I ate meals made from local vegetables and one time, ate a packet of Oman chips. I also bought two plants that are locally grown instead of buying plants that have been imported.

What would I have done instead? I would have eaten meals made of vegetables flown in from India, chips and snavks made in India”.