Dubai: School students are encouraging supermarket shoppers in Dubai to ditch single-use plastic grocery bags and switch to eco-friendly reusable alternatives.
Senior students at Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) in Arabian Ranches recently collaborated with Carrefour Arabian Ranches for the student-led initiative, with more schools and branches expected to join. The initiative also aims to support Carrefour’s bid to eliminate single-use plastic by 2025.
Power of persuasion
JESS student Michael Kubeisy led a team of schoolmates in the sustainability drive, visiting their store three times per week for a whole month to discuss plastic pollution with shoppers and encourage them to use a reusable bag for their groceries. Michael said: “We took the time to chat with people and explain the impact single-use plastic has on the environment. Luckily, we were able to persuade many customers to purchase a reusable shopping bag and remind other shoppers who had their bags in their cars but had forgotten them. Everyone we spoke to was really engaged, appreciating our efforts towards environmental conservation.”
5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans
A plastic bag is used for an average of just 12 minutes, yet takes over 500 years to degrade in a landfill, added Michael. There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans — enough to circle the earth 400 times.
Julia Richardson, who co-ordinates the CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) projects at JESS, said: “These projects are a great way for our students to form relationships with the external community. The CAS programme provides our students at JESS with a unique channel to begin ways to address global issues, drive change and ultimately make a difference. The CAS programme will ensure we uphold the relationships with Carrefour that Michael and his team have formed, transforming this initiative into a legacy project.”
Re-evaluating usage of single-use plastic bags
Owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the UAE, Carrefour says it was the first retailer in the UAE to sell reusable shopping bags in 2007. Since then, Carrefour has encouraged customers to re-evaluate their usage of single-use plastic bags and consider how they can opt for more sustainable alternatives. Today, Carrefour sells three different types of reusable bags.
Seeing the impact
Philippe Peguilhan, country manager of Carrefour UAE at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said they noticed “a huge spike” in reusable bags sales at the Arabian Ranches branch as a direct result of Michael and his team’s work. “It’s fantastic to see the future generation taking the necessary steps towards a plastic-free future and we were delighted to support these inspiring JESS students. We at Carrefour take every opportunity to work with and uplift our surrounding communities, setting the standard for sustainable, responsible and self-sufficient business.”
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The JESS student team included Arnav Nair, Lucien Mobayed, Lara Rudar, Ishan Maheshwari, Alina Ali, Alaisha Fernando, Camille le Gloahec, Tarek Metwally, Youssof Saleh, Ananya Tandon and Louisa Mbochi.