Posts Tagged With: UAE

A Greener Life : Reduce

green_living

It’s been two months since I’ve been trying to find recycling centres in Abu Dhabi. With the exception of one supermarket, no other place offers recycling. There are some schools with recycling facilities but those are restricted only to parents of students. By far recycling is simply unheard of in UAE. Ask the locals and most have the attitude of “who cares?”. Fortunately with more and more people getting conscious about reducing waste things are beginning to change. But we are still talking about a big revolution that needs a lot of commitment from both government and people.

While we wait for adequate recycling measures to develop, can we not do anything to reduce our effect on the environment? Even though household are not the biggest contributor towards waste but every little helps (or hurts?). I’ve been thinking of how I can run a ‘greener household’ apart from changing regular bulbs to energy efficient ones. Some steps that we can easily take (apart from the ones I mentioned in my post “5p for a bag”):

  • UAE’s climate makes lifestyles energy intensive. Personal transport and air conditioners are a necessity, but how about water heaters? We are living in 45°C! I know people who keep the temperatures in their houses at 18-19 and use water heaters for shower. Can we not easily cut down on this double wastage?
  • Switch off appliances completely when not in use. A lot of household appliances use electricity even when they are not in use, mostly to support “instant-on” functions or a digital clock. Do we really need the microwave to tell time at 3am? Can we not live with the home theatre taking a few 10s of seconds to come up when you switch it on? According to studies in various countries, stand-by or off mode power consumption accounts for 5-10% of the total residential electricity. So really switch off the appliances.
  • Kitchen is one place that has an enormous potential of reducing wastage as it the biggest culprit where household waste is concerned. Some practices to reduce the burden on both, the planet and the pocket!
    • In Abu Dhabi where the tap water is not considered drinkable, a lot of spend a lot of money on bottled water and all these plastic bottles just end up in the garbage heap. A good filter may seem expensive but would turn out to be cheaper in the long run and you will never run out of drinking water. Alternatively, for short term you can get those 20 lts water cans that are reused by the supplier.
    • Paper towels are convenient and should be handy in case of an emergency, but use long lasting cloth towels for regular jobs around kitchen.
    • Similarly, dispose off the disposables.
    • Buy local and seasonal produce. It’s cheaper, fresher, more nutritious and will reduce all the shipping. Eggplant from Holland costs 16 Dhs/Kg, from India 8Dhs/Kg and from Saudi 2.5 Dhs/Kg.
    • Reduce packaging: Buy in bulk the item you know will finish before the ‘use by’ date, buy fresh unwrapped produce, take your own bag to the grocer. Reuse packaging like glass bottles and containers.
    • Lets Cook! It’s healthier and you save all the energy and packaging that goes into frozen food. Plan ahead so that you are not inclined to pick up some ready-to-eat from the supermarket at the last minute.
    • Eat less meat! (I know a lot of people may not really like that J ) Meat preparation uses a lot of energy when compared with vegetables. If you are a regular non-vegetarian, even one meatless dish a week will mean considerable savings over time.
    • If you have an electric hob, turn off the hob 5 mins before the food is cooked. Same for the oven. Let the food cook in the residual heat. Use lids on pots whenever possible – helps reducing cooking time and save energy.
    • Match your pot size to the burner size. A smaller pot used on a big burner (esp on an electric hob) results in considerable loss of burner’s heat.
    • Use appliances wisely. Simple practices help save a lot of energy consumed by appliances and also increase their lifespan. Cool the food before keeping it in the refrigerator. Keep the refrigerator a few inches away from the wall to allow proper air circulation. Don’t open the door too often. Use the microwave instead of oven for re-heating. Maximise the use of oven by cooking multiple things at the same time.
    • If you have space try growing your own herbs and compost your kitchen waste to use as fertilizer.
  • Then there are always practices like ‘never leave the tap running’ or ‘fix a leaking tap asap’.
  • Last but not the least on the list today: make that trip to the recycling centre atleast once a week or every fortnight. A little effort on our part means a great deal for the environment.

 

It’s difficult to change everything on one go. But every small step makes a lot of difference in preserving earth’s resources. One change at a time towards a greener, healthier lifestyle.

There are a lot more small things we can do at our homes that would help save energy and reduce wastage. Lets share.

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Another Beginning

Had I written this post any earlier it would have been very pessimistic. Guess that’s why it took so long to get some decent internet connection. I still have to post about Paris and rest of my Europe trip. But even though it’s been only about a month, it seems like that trip happened ages ago! So much has happened since then. Bye bye Edinburgh and Welcome to Abu Dhabi!

Bye Bye Edinburgh..

Since we knew about the transfer we’ve been saying ‘the one thing we won’t miss about Scotland is the weather’ but a couple of days before we left, Edinburgh was flooded with sunshine.. and no wind! For the first time during my stay there, I saw people walking in shorts, no stocking, skirts were out, no jackets no scarves.. Either the city was giving us a warm farewell or making us feel sad to leave it. Or maybe it was trying to acclimatise us for Abu Dhabi’s 50 C!! On the last day, I walked down the royal mile one last time, tried to capture images in my mind. The lively royal mile had been home for almost a year. No matter what time of the year, it was never short of tourists and locals alike. Wind or no wind, rain or sun the cafes at the royal mile were always full and so was the street with all it’s street performances. I’ve spent so many evenings here listening to mouth organs, guitars, bagpipes, drums.. watching plays, jugglers. It’s an open theatre. Everyone is welcome.

I miss it so much.. miss the cobble stone roads going up and down, the narrow stairs connecting roads, princess street and gardens the charm of an old town, the desire of clicking a picture each time I was on the road. Edinburgh was always beautiful. The rain and the wind will try to put you off most days but the city would always attract. There were so many places that I wanted to visit but somehow just couldn’t despite the fact that I lived within 2 miles of all of them like the real Mary Queen’s close, the Calton Hill, the Holyrood Palace… I miss the window seat at my apartment overlooking the royal mile and the Cockburn street.. I’ve spent so many of  my days just sitting there and watch the world pass by.

Welcome to Abu Dhabi!

Abu Dhabi gave a very hot and humid welcome! 🙂 It wasn’t easy coming here and we still are trying to get a hang of the city. I made the mistake of coming to gulf via India. Was grilled for about an hour at check-in counter at Delhi. And finally, they allowed me to travel only when I signed a letter saying I’m going at my own risk and if they deport me, I will be responsible and not Jet airways.  The immigration guy wanted to just convince me badly to opt for Masters in electronics and not waste time working for an oil field company! So that was another 45 mins interview..

Finally entered Abu Dhabi. Every country poses a different set of problems for settling in. In Scotland, it was the absence of credit history.. so no bank account, no phone, no internet for atleast 2 months. Here they don’t care about credit history, so bank account took 2 days, but looks like the company got the wrong visa done and we can’t drive, or have a post paid phone/internet connection..Add to it the fact that you have to wait for atleast 30mins in 50C before a taxi stops by. Hopefully things will sort out within a month. We have a found an apartment and that’s a plus! Though our credit cards have stopped working so we can’t furnish it and we are still stuck in a hotel room..Phone calls are expensive and all VoIP sites are blocked. There is only one state owned phone/internet/cable company, full monopoly.

If I continue this would just become a crib session. I think I should give the city sometime. Every city has it’s charms, I still need to discover Abu Dhabi’s. 🙂

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