Dubai: Guess how much trash you accumulate in a month? Two UAE-based women are on a mission to show you just that.

South African Mariska Nell, 30, and Australian Marita Peters, 37, will wear every piece of trash they generate for 30 days, as part of their unique ‘Waste Me Not’ campaign which kicked off on Earth Hour day on March 24.

Dubai generates an average of 8,000 tonnes of waste every day with each resident contributing about 2.7 kilograms which translates to almost 1,000 kilograms per person a year.

Contrasting lives

In order to show how simple eco-friendly ways can reduce waste, the two women are living contrasting lives. While Mariska is portraying the average person, Marita is depicting a responsible individual who believes in the five Rs - Refuse Reduce Reuse Recycle and Rot.

“The idea behind our campaign is to create a visual impact of the amount of waste people generate. Most people do not think twice about the trash they make and how it harms the environment. What if there were no bins and you had to carry all the trash on you? Would it make you think twice before using certain items or would you continue to dump?” said Mariska, a Dubai-based artist.

Since she embarked on the campaign, Mariska has generated 23 kilograms of waste already. That’s over two kilos of waste daily.

Marita, on the other hand, has accumulated less than a kilo of rubbish in the last two weeks.

She said their campaign runs until April 22 and is inspired by American environmental activist Rob Greenfield who embarked on a similar mission sometime ago.

Custom-made suit

Every day, Mariska and Marita wear a specially designed costume in which they carry their waste. The suit has been custom-made by South African designer Jessica Yvonne Burgess under her fashion label Jessibeez Label.

Recycled plastic and curtain materials have been used to make the suit which comes with 11 pockets.

“Every single packaged material is cleaned and washed before I put it inside the suit. Of course, I can’t do that with food waste as it’s highly impractical. So I weigh the amount of wasted food and substitute it with an equal amount of uncooked rice,” said Mariska.

“It’s a struggle to walk with the suit as it’s getting heavier by the day. So I have transferred around six kilograms of waste into a trolley which I carry with me wherever I go,” she said.

But Marita has no such problem as her suit weighs less than a kilo thanks to her environmentally conscious habits.

Making a difference

“Each of us can make a difference by reducing, reusing, and recycling materials throughout our communities-and encouraging our neighbours to do the same. If all of us do small things, it adds up to a bigger change. I have a handy kit that I take with me whenever I leave the house. It contains a reusable cup, lunchbox for leftovers in case I eat out and metal fork and spoon,” said Marita who works as an executive director at Surge Middle East.

“I shop in bulk to save several trips to the supermarket. The food leftovers, vegetable peels are composted in my backyard garden. I don’t buy cleaning products either. Instead I use vinegar and water as a disinfectant for floors, bathrooms and counter tops. There are many handmade soaps and shampoos available in the market that come without any packaging. I buy only those,” she added.

Marita said she never buys single-use plastic items as they end up in landfills.

Currently, 7,560 square metres of land in Dubai is used for landfills.

Hoping to divert 75 per cent of waste from landfills by 2021, Dubai has come up with various initiatives including setting up 13 Smart Sustainable Oasis Centres where segregated waste can be deposited for recycling.


What do you do to reduce householdwaste?

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