About Rehan Ahmad

Rehan Ahmed is currently working as Head of Waste Disposal Unit at Supreme Council for Environment, Kingdom of Bahrain. He has over thirty four years of professional experience on projects related to waste management, recycling, reuse and recovery & environmental impacts assessments. Rehan has been instrumental in construction, development, operation and management of Hafira industrial landfill site and establishment of healthcare waste treatment facility in Bahrain.

Towards a Waste-Free Ramadan Iftar

In the holy month of Ramadan, Iftar or breaking of fast becomes our main attention. The Iftars are either taken at home alone or with the family and relatives or at Iftar buffets at hotels and restaurants. The other option usually for the bachelors and less privileged people are to open the fast at mosques and at community centers whereby the iftar and dinner is provided for free organized by the rich, philanthropists, charitable organizations and mosque committees.

Disrespect to Food

It is a common sight that at Iftar, people do not respect the food and drinks that are provided to them and leave it partly eaten/ consumed. At home, food which is cooked and provided is often been consumed and left overs are kept and re-utilized. At mosques, Iftar plates or boxes are commonly being made which include dates, fruit pieces, samosa, pakoras, biryani and sweets. If open food is served in dishes and plates, it is often being shared between 4-6 people who partly eat the portions they like. Thus, huge quantity of expensive freshly cooked food provided free by sponsors becomes waste which is conveniently disposed of in the nearest communal bin. The waste also includes water bottles, containers, packaging, cardboards, Styrofoam and plastic plates, sheets, disposable cutlery and tissue papers.

Iftar Buffets – Beyond Imagination

Iftar buffets at restaurants and hotels are no different than at mosques, where Iftar and dinner packages are being offered. In such cases also, there is huge wastage of food, as eating capability of the individuals are limited. The great variety of iftar and dinner items tend to make people take more than required in their plates which later is thrown in waste bins. Restaurants and hotels provide buffets beyond our imagination, with an ‘all-you-can-eat’ spirit. If people knew what ‘all they could eat’, maybe less food would have been wasted. It is difficult to see that the food quantity run out.

At joint Iftar/ dinner gatherings at mosques, clubs and halls, more food is being provided irrespective of the number of people expected. At hotels and restaurants, food is amply being cooked for the fear that it may be fully consumed and where food availability contributes to the hotels’ reputation as running out of a specific dish would be every F&B manager’s worst nightmare. Thus, higher quantities of food/ dishes are being made. Irony of the fact is that the leftover food is not allowed to be consumed by the hotel staff or given to charity and has to make its way to the garbage bins. The view of waste containers full of fresh and valuable food is very depressing especially for a country where most of the food items are imported and is expensive.

Iftar gatherings at mosques are also responsible for wastage of huge amount of food

Violation of the spirit of Ramadan

Wastage of food is a sin and a violation of the very concept of Ramadan. The act of throwing away food is a complete contradiction to the philosophy behind fasting. Quran says food waste must be prevented and mention, “Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” So let us not waste the food. If surplus food is remaining, it should be packed and send/given to deserving people. We also need to make sure the quality and safety of the donated food. Another viable option to reduce food wastage is by recycling.

Let us be more vigilant and not waste any food waste or drinks. We need to think twice before putting any food waste to the garbage bin. Each individual’s contribution counts. Let us save our environment.

إجعل رمضانك أخضر

في شهر رمضان نشهد إختلافاً كبيراً في العادات والأنشطة اليومية سواء من عادات الأكل أو الصلاة . وتأتي الدعوة لعدم الأكل والشرب من شروق الشمس إلى غروبها في هذا الشهر لتعزيز قدرات التحمل البدني والعقلي، وفهم الصعوبات التي يواجهها المحرومين ممن ليس لديهم ما يكفي من الموارد لتلبية حاجاتهم الأساسية. ويتجلى المعنى الحقيقي لشهر رمضان بتنقية أنفسنا مع الحرص على صحة الجسم، والروح، وعلاقاتنا الانسانية  بالإضافة إلى علاقتنا مع النظم البيئية التي تدعم وجودنا على هذه الارض.

شهر رمضان هو فرصة ذهبية للتفكير في إمكانية التحول نحو "نمط الحياة الخضراء" الذي يتمثل بأسلوب حياة صديقة للبيئة، تتجنب التلوث والإسراف، وتهدف إلى التوفير في استهلاكنا للموارد الطبيعية. نمط الحياة الخضراء يعني تحسين نوعية الحياة وتحقيق التنمية المستدامة.

دعونا نخلق الوعي حول استخدامنا للموارد الطبيعية خلال شهر رمضان، ونبدأ بالتفكير والتصرف بشكل إيجابي لحماية بيئتنا وتغيير عاداتنا التي تؤثر على النظام البيئي حولنا. دعونا نغتنم هذه الفرصة التي يوفرها رمضان ونعتمد نموذجا للسلوك الأخضر والمسؤول الذي يعالج القضايا البيئية الملحة.

من المعروف أن استهلاك اللحوم والخضار والفواكه بالإضافة إلى المشروبات والعصائر يشهد إزدياداً كبيراً في هذا الشهر. لذلك، دعونا نتأنى بقراراتنا الاستهلاكية ونتناول الطعام الصحي والعضوي بكميات مدروسة. دعونا نزرع الخضراوات والفواكه بالمساحات المتاحة لدينا، ونستخدم المواد الغذائية بحكمة. دعونا نبتعد عن عاداتنا الروتينية التي تلوث الهواء والتربة والمياه. هذا وعلينا أن ندرك أن أي سوء إدارة لمواردنا المتاحة سيكون له آثار لا رجعة فيها على التوازن البيئي وعلى أجيالنا المقبلة.

يقدم رمضان فرصة مثالية لإعادة شحن طاقتنا الروحانية كل عام. فهو أنسب وقت للتكفير عما فات والتفكر في خلق الله. حيث حمل البشر مسؤولية عمارة الأرض التي تتضمن الاستخدام  الأمثل للموارد والبيئة بحيث نضمن استدامتها.

ليكن هذا الشهر نقطة تحول في سبيل احترام مواردنا والبيئة من حولنا. وفيما يلي بعض الأفكار الأساسية:

دعم المنتجات المحلية.

التخطيط لاستخدام أمثل للغذاء، دون أي هدر أو إسراف.

ترشيد استهلاك المياه، وخاصة أثناء الوضوء، وتصويب أي مسبب للهدر.

ترشيد استهلاك الطاقة والتنبه لبصمتنا الكربونية.

توليد كمية أقل من النفايات خاصة النفايات الغذائية. بالإضافة إلى ضرورة دعم وممارسة إعادة التدوير وإعادة الاستخدام.

عدم رمي القمامة في المناطق العامة، كالأماكن التجارية والدينية ومناطق التسوق.

الحد من أو عدم استخدام الأكياس البلاستيكية، وتقليل استخدام الورق والقرطاسية.

إطفاء الأجهزة بعد انتهاء الحاجة منها مثل الأضواء، وأجهزة التكييف، والمراوح، والسخانات، وما إلى ذلك.

استخدام الأجهزة الكهربائية مثل الغسالات والمكواة والمكنسة الكهربائية وغسالات الصحون خارج ساعات الذروة.

استبدال المصابيح العادية بمصابيح أقل استهلاكاً للطاقة وإطفاء الأنوارعند عدم الحاجة لها.

القضاء على عادة استخدام المواد المخصصة لاستعمال مرة واحدة، من صحون وأكواب، الخ. وتجنب استخدام الأوعية المصنوعة من الستايروفوم وأدوات المائدة البلاستيكية.

 

ترجمة: سمر طه

أخصائية في مجال البيئة  ودراسات تقييم الأثر البيئي في الأردن، حاصلة على درجتي الماجيستير في التقييم والمراقبة البيئية والعلوم البيئة وإدارتھا وبكالوريوس في إدارة المياه والبيئة.

Green Your Ramadan

Ramadan is a month which is very different than other months in terms of activities, praying and eating habits. The month call for not eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset to boost physical and mental endurance and to understand the hardships faced by the unprivileged human beings who do not have enough resources to satisfy their basic necessities. The true meaning of Ramadan is purifying ourselves, taking care of our body, soul, people, surrounding and ecosystems which is supporting us.

The month of Ramadan is a golden opportunity to consider making a shift towards a ‘green lifestyle’ that is environmental friendly, non-polluting, non-wasteful and aim toward saving of natural resources. The green lifestyle means improving the quality of life and achieving sustainable development.

Let us create awareness on our resources usage during Ramadan, think and act positively towards our environment and change our unfriendly habits which are impacting our ecosystem. Let us seize this opportunity provided by Ramadan and adopt a model for a green and responsible behavior that addresses the urgent environmental issues.

The month sees over consumption of meat, vegetables and fruits together with drinks, juices and syrups. We become more extravagant in terms of using food and resources. So, let us be patient on these consumptions, eat healthy and organic food in manageable quantities. Let us grow vegetables and fruits at our available land/ space. Use food items judiciously and avoid any wastage. Let us be away from our routine habits that pollute our air, soil and water resources. Let us be aware of our wasteful habits which are affecting the environment and our future generations. We need to understand that any mismanagement of our precious available resources will be having an irreversible impacts on our ecology and for our future generations. Let us make concerted effort to encourage and embrace "green" practices, especially during Ramadan.

Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries for the year. It is a time to seek forgiveness for our misgivings and to reflect upon the signs of creation from Allah. As human beings, we have a duty as stewards over this planet, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the resources and environment are used in a sustainable manner.

Use food items judiciously and avoid any wastage during Ramadan

Let this month not only harness our mental and physical ability but also be a turning point for respecting our resources and environment. Here are some basic thoughts:

  • Support and utilize local produce.
  • Plan food usage with no wastage.
  • Reducing the water usage, especially during making ‘wadoo’/ ablution. Be vigilant that the tap is closed. Any dripping should be eliminated to conserve precious water.
  • Reducing our energy and carbon footprint.
  • Generating less quantity of waste especially food waste. Support & practice recycling and reuse.
  • No littering especially in common areas, commercial and religious places and shopping areas.
  • Minimum or no use of plastic bags. Using less paper and stationery.
  • Switching off appliances after use like lights, ACs, fans, heaters, iron etc.
  • Using electrical appliances like washing machines, iron, vacuum cleaner and dishwashers in off peak hours.
  • Replacing lights bulbs from incandescent to compact fluorescent and turning off lights when they are not in use.
  • Eliminate use of disposables plates, cutlery, cups, containers etc. Avoid using Styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery.

Reuse and Recycling of Textbooks

For every academic term or semester, thousands of new textbooks are being printed, bought and used. On the other hand, almost the same number of textbooks and course material are being discarded after its use and find its way to the garbage bins ultimately landing at the landfill site where they are being buried, compacted and disposed occupying precious land area. Usually these textbooks are not being reused or recycled generating huge quantities of paper waste.

In many of the private schools, the textbooks have to be bought in every term due to change in edition or minor revisions putting an extra burden on parents to buy the new books that cannot be used for their other children in coming years. Due to rise in standard of living, it is not a common sight that the text books are being donated, exchanged, re-used or utilized by other family members. Such practices are yielding more generation of paper waste.

A Novel Initiative in Bahrain

The recent initiative taken by Bahrain’s Ministry of Education is laudable whereby the textbooks have to be returned by the students after completion of the academic year and will be reused for the incoming students. Reuse of textbooks will conserve resources, finances and will generate less paper waste besides educating the children to reuse and recycle and taking care of the environment. Some private initiatives have also being launched to support needy students by providing free textbooks to them to be collected from students and parents. It is expected that around 1,000 of these book sets will be distributed to students, while those deemed unusable will be recycled as part of a dual program being operated by the organization in Bahrain.

In addition to books, poor students will also get free stationery including notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and sharpeners. There is a greater need that text books are shared and re-utilized while establishing a culture of environmental responsibility. Though such practices are being done at individual level, it needs to be done at community and at school level. Text book collection boxes are to be kept and maintained at school level by the school authorities or by the parent teachers association or any NGO. In addition, students should be made responsible towards protecting the environmental resources.

The Way Forward

In almost all developed countries, there are book banks and libraries from where the text/ course books can be purchased both used and un-used one and can be returned or resold after use. Many online shops are available which deliver the books at nominal cost. In addition, many charity, community and non-governmental organizations set up text books bins, booths and boxes for such purpose of books collection and re-utilization. In line with the Government initiative, all private schools and vocational institutions should also initiate the text book re-utilization and recycling programs.

Reuse of textbooks will not only conserve the environment but also help in educating children in less-privileged communities.

Reuse of textbooks will not only help in environmental conservation but also help in education of children in less-privileged countries.[/caption]

The local charities and area committees can also include text book collection/ donation program within their scope, which then needs to be publicized by the local media enabling students and their parents to generously donate these books for further re-use within the country or can be exported out to other poor neighboring countries where cost of books prohibit the children to go to school. Such habits and awareness of conserving environmental resources will go a long way in inculcating environmental related habits in our younger generation who will take charge of this planet in near future.

An Environmental Message

We need to understand that it takes around three tons of trees to make one ton of paper which also utilize huge quantity of water per ton than any other product in the world. Paper making also produces high levels of air and water pollution which can be avoided. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water. It takes one tree to make 25 books.

By recycling our books, we are giving that tree a new purpose and reducing deforestation. It is suggested that schools should hold semi-annual book sales to clear out old inventory. Special bins/ containers for these books are to be made and appropriately placed in schools. We need to clear our shelves, and get unused books back into circulation.

We need to understand that recycling is a responsibility of today for a better tomorrow.

Guidelines for Eco-Friendly Eidul Fitr

The culmination of the holy month of Ramadan is with the festival of Eidul Fitr or Feast of Breaking the Fast. Eid is considered as a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide and to show a common goal of unity. The main aspects of Eid are congregational prayers in masjids, open areas and parks, get to gather of families and friends at home or restaurants, making and eating special dishes and wearing ceremonial dresses.

Eidul Fitr, like other local, national and religious festivals often have a major impact on the environmental resources. Extra food, drinks and clothings are made, used and consumed. People spend a fortune on these items. The cost and environmental consideration is often being neglected, not considered and forgotten.

The celebrations and festivity are often extravagant and cause pollution and harm to the environmental resources. The day starts with the special prayers whereby men, women and children gather to offer prayers. The site of praying after the ritual is often plagued by litter, rubbish and waste scattered all over the place and even blowing in the air and migrating to nearby safe havens for unaesthetic accumulations.

Special food is prepared in houses which are visited by the relatives and neighbours. This causes great food wastage often due to under utilization as food is prepared more than the number of visitors and with a feeling that it should not be finished. On the other hand, people also eat limited quantity of special food less than expected or prepared which goes waste quickly. This includes special breakfast, lavish snacks, sumptuous lunches and extravagant dinners during the festival days.

To supply the population with the required quantity of food, government makes huge efforts in procuring or rather over-procuring food stuff for local consumption. It includes meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, cereals, grains, packaged food etc. Meat and poultry is lavishly eaten during the Eid holidays. The demand of beef, mutton, chicken etc increases to around 50% of the normal demand, which in itself is very high.

Eidul Fitr also prompts extra and panic buying of food items and eatables, which are out of shelves quickly in the super markets and cold stores during the last days of Ramadan. This trend again leads to more wastage as the food items bought are not being fully and efficiently utilized and ultimately end up in garbage bins.

Over the period of years, the festivities are increasing with more buying of items and eatables per head. Consumption of eatables has increased many folds in the Middle East  and people have become more wasteful due to rise in income, living standards and affordability. But affordability does not mean that wastage should increase.

While planning for Eidul Fitr celebrations, it is now imperative that we need to think twice before buying, procuring any food items, clothing etc and taking environment into consideration.

Let us change our attitude towards festivity and wastage and celebrate the festival in the right spirit.

Tips for Eco-friendly Eidul Fitr

  • Buying clothes and dressings with minimum packaging.
  • Buy food items in calculated quantities based on the actual requirements and number of guests to be served.
  • It is better to serve food in limited quantities rather than extravagantly in large dishes and quantities.
  • Educating guests in avoiding left overs and wasting food.
  • Serving drinks in small glasses
  • Avoid using disposable cutlery, plates, napkins, tissues etc.
  • Giving leftover food to the less privileged and poor people in the neighbourhood

Let us endeavor to celebrate the Eid in an environment-friendly manner.

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Food Waste in Ramadan: Trends and Counter-Measures

With the holy month of Ramadan starting, preparations are in full swing to make all necessary arrangements by the government, traders and commercial establishments to provide all utilities, goods and food that are required during Ramadan. Muslims countries, Arab nations in particular, generate huge quantities of food waste which increases substantially during the month of Ramadan and festivals whereby the consumption and wastage of food increase at an alarming level. As per conservative estimates, around 15-25% of all food purchased or prepared during Ramadan find its way to the garbage bin before even being used or consumed.

In Bahrain alone, more than 300 tons per day of organic food waste is being generated as domestic waste in the country which constitutes around 11% of the total municipal waste. The food waste is being discarded along with other domestic waste and is being collected by the local private contractors, which is transported and disposed at the Asker municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center in a quarry area.

Food Waste Trends in Ramadan

The trend shows that during Ramadan, the demand for beef, mutton, chicken and related meat products increases by almost 50% of the normal demand, which in itself is very high. Similar is the fate of other related food items like vegetables, fruits and dairy products etc. which are out of shelves quickly in the super markets and cold stores during special religious occasions.

The enormous food waste generation can be witnessed at all socio-economic levels. It is environmentally and morally considered offensive that as a society we have become so casual about the basic raw materials of life. Over the period of years, the society and people have become more wasteful due to rise in income, living standards, consumerism and affordability. But affording does not mean that wastage should increase as it is contrary to the Islamic principles of sustainability.

During Ramadan, people tend to buy more than their normal requirements for self consumption plus for taking care of guests. Due to the limited quantity of food to be consumed by people this additional quantity of cooked or made food becomes waste as Fatoor is not usually eaten as midnight snacks or as sahoor the other day. The demand for fresh food increases as majority of people are willing to spend an extra amount for the better quality of food.

The rich also sympathize greatly in this month and donate more food for charity which at times is not consumed by the poor section of the society due to late delivery and evening prayers. This trend again leads to more wastage, as the food items bought are not being fully and efficiently utilized and ultimately end up in garbage bins.

Key Counter-Measures

We need to change our attitude of not laying the table with more food than people can eat. This is not hospitality and welcoming the guests.

  • People should not buy in excess to avoid another trip to the grocery store or super market.
  • We need to develop better food habits and respect for the Mother Nature. The problem of food wastage lies in socio-cultural sensitization and behavioral change.
  • Buying in actual quantities especially fruits and vegetables. Making a shopping list first before going to the market will be more useful.
  • Buying items with a longer expiry dates for ease in using it during a longer period.
  • Daily checking of the food items in our fridge/ deep freezer to ensure its utilization before it becomes waste.
  • Inculcating good food utilization and storage habits can also play a key role in waste minimization.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Guide to Green Hajj

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an annual pilgrimage to Makkah. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. The Hajj gathering is considered to be the largest gathering of people in the world whereby Muslims from many countries converge to do the religious rites.  Nearly three million Muslims perform Hajj each year. Making necessary arrangements each year for the growing number of pilgrims poses a gigantic logistic challenge for the Saudi Government and respective Authorities, as housing, transportation, sanitation, food and health care needs are to be provided to the pilgrims.

Environmental Footprint

The Hajj has an enormous environmental footprint. During Hajj, huge quantities of wastes are generated which needs to be appropriately collected, handled and managed. Other impacts are of water use and wastewater generation and treatment, transporting vehicles causing terrible air pollution damaging the health of the pilgrims, littering causing choking of public infrastructures, plastic bottles, used diapers, food packaging etc. are an eyesore. The problem is compounded due to ignorance, over enthusiasm, illiteracy of pilgrims and lack of commitment to handle the environmental resources.

Unfortunately, majority of the pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam and obligations of protecting the environment. According to the Quran, humans are entrusted to be the maintainers of the earth, its ecology and environment.The Hajj can be sustainable if the pilgrims behave in an environmental friendly manner and avoid different types of pollution.

A vast majority of Hajj pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam.

A vast majority of Hajj pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam.

Towards a Green Hajj

We need to understand that the respective authorities plan, spend and provide facilities to match with the number of pilgrims, but the irresponsible attitude of many people jeopardize the environmental resources. Following aspects will help the pilgrims in making their Hajj greener and help in conservation of resources:

  • Green purchasing, buy what is required and only environmentally–friendly products
  • Using minimum quantity of water for ablution, bath and personal use. Opening water gadgets and tap to allow limited flow. Washing clothes with minimum water.
  • Reporting any water leakages to the Authority.
  • Re-filling and reusing water bottles.
  • Buying food only what you can eat, surplus food should be avoided.
  • Avoiding food packaging.
  • Avoid disposable cutlery, plates, glasses etc.
  • Avoid littering, collecting all waste and disposing it at designated locations. 
  • Avoid using plastic shopping bags.
  • Moving and using group transport facilities.
  • Minimize electricity usage.
  • Avoid leaving lights on in empty rooms.
  • Switching off the chargers, once used.
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances, if required.
  • Avoid using electrical appliances on standby.

The recent Islamic declaration on climate change exhorts us to work steadfastly to minimize our ecological footrpint and make individual pledges to help our planet. Environment is Allah’s creation and has to be respected. Let us make our contribution to the Green Hajj and make a profound impact on the ecosystem, making it more sustainable and manageable and show that Islam is the ideal platform for ecological and environmental preservation.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Leakage Control: Effective Tool for Water Conservation

water-leakageWater is a basic need of our life and is amply provided by the Governmental agencies. However, we as consumers do not prioritize on water wastage and leakages issue due to the subsidized water cost. The leakages from taps, valves and appurtenant are often noticed but the invisible leakages under the sink often goes un-noticed and drips occurring are not taken seriously and addressed till the leakage get larger and leak get worse.

The Menace of Water Leaks

Water leaks from pipes, plumbing fixtures, faucets, valves and fittings are a common sight in buildings and structures and is a significant source of water wastage.  Only a small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste around 75 liters of water per day. Thus, we need to check all the water pipes and fittings regularly to assess their operational status and any leak occurring should be urgently repaired or replaced.

Leaks from pipes, plumbing fixtures and fittings are a significant source of water wastage for many households.  Research has shown that the typical home can lose 7.6 m3 to 76 m3 of water per year due to leaks. Some leaks are obvious, such as dripping faucets and leaking water heaters. Unfortunately, many leaks go undetected for years because the source of the leak is not visible. Faucet leaks are a common occurrence and usually simple to repair.  A faucet dripping slowly at only one drop every two seconds will waste more than 1,000 gallons or 3.7 m3 per year.   

Toilets are another common source of leaks in the home, and usually go unnoticed because the leaks are often silent and out of view.  Several research studies have found 20% to 35% of all residential toilets leak to some degree. Large toilet leaks can be detected when the valve constantly emits a hissing or gurgling sound when the toilet is not in use.

Detection of Water Leakages

We frequently see dripping and leaking water gadgets, pipes and toilets but do not take any action for its correction, mainly because of our attitude and lack of awareness. It is now important to inspect our water gadgets, pipes and fittings in our home, dwelling and place of work or study and take corrective actions. For checking the water leakages, first note water meter reading. Re-check again after two hours with all water gadgets are shut. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak in the system whereby water is being wasted for which you have to pay the cost which will be increasing with time. 

If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often an old, faulty rubber packing/ washer which decay with number of uses or minerals build up on it. Replacing the damaged rubber packing is inexpensive and can be done easily. Another way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of color dye in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush water immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank and toilet.

Conclusion

Potable water is supplied to our homes, offices and institutions after abstraction, treatment and through long distribution and pumping network and entails huge cost which is heavily subsidized by the Government. It is high time that we consider water conservation as a priority step and avoid any water wastage and leakages at home, offices and institutions.  

The time is now to deal with our water leaks promptly and giving it a priority. Remember- fixing leaks will save money, is good for the environment and will save our limited water resources.  

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Say ‘No’ to Disposables

The waste quantities in all parts of the world are increasing many folds. In the past three decades, the waste quantities have almost been doubled. The per capita waste generation is alarmingly high especially in GCC countries. The municipal and governmental authorities have to spend huge resources in collection, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of these wastes. With limited recycling facilities and absence of reusing culture, more quantities of the waste is now to be managed.

Major part of our municipal waste is still heading towards our landfill sites where it is being dumped, compacted and covered. The landfills are in quarries areas which are becoming soon filled up with the waste. In Bahrain almost 1.7 cum of space is required to accommodate 1 tons of waste.

Use of disposable cutlery has been increasing exponentially in developing countries

Despite a growing push to recycle and reuse, we must try to correct not the symptoms but the disease, and to do that, we should all avoid and reduce. The use of ‘disposables’ in the Middle East has increased exponentially in recent years and the items and quantities are increasing with each passing day. Here are few suggestions to avoid the use of disposables in our daily lives:

  • Avoid Paper Cups and Plates as paper manufacturing consume trees and are bleached white with chlorine, a process that releases dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, and emit methane, a greenhouse gas when trashed and thrown in a landfill.
  • Avoid Polystyrene & Styrofoam which are hazardous, carcinogens, cause air pollution and can cause nervous system impairments among workers. Styrene can leach from containers into our food. Polystyrene cannot be recycled and never biodegrades; it only breaks down into smaller pieces, polluting the environment and harming the animals that mistake it for food.
  • Avoid Bottled Water and use reusable containers for water storage and drinking.
  • Avoid Plastic and Paper Shopping Bags. Keep your own cloth bag ready for all occasions.
  • Avoid Plastic Utensils, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, forks, spoons and knives. Use chinaware or glassware instead.
  • Avoid Use rechargeable batteries instead of single use batteries. •Avoid using disposable diapers and use cloth diapers.
  • Using ink pen rather than ball points and getting a refillables. •Using handkerchief rather than tissue and paper towels.
  • Avoid using disposable stirrers and individually packaged sugar, milk and creamer. Use a spoon for stirring and place the sugar and milk in reusable containers or jugs.
  • Avoid using individual sachets of chilly, mayonnaise or ketchup sauce. Store the sauce in reusable bottles and dispensers instead.
  • Avoid Gift Wrapping and put the gift in a reusable bag instead..

Each time you throw something in the trash, please consider that you have paid its cost and are contributing towards more waste at the landfill.

Please avoid disposables. Be wise and environmental friendly.

The Menace of Plastic Water Bottles

During the holy month of Ramadan, the use of drinking water increases many folds as water bottles are supplied and provided especially at ‘Fatoor’ and dinner at religious places, hotels, Ramadan tents and private homes. The main consumption is however, at the religious places due to longer stay of people in offering special night prayers (taraweeh and Qiyam ul Lail). These water bottles are provided in bulk by philanthropists, sponsors and people at religious places to quench the thirst of people who gather for the long prayers.

In the Middle East, it is common to see people greatly misuse this resource considering it free, taking a bottle, sipping it half and leaving it at the venue. These used and partially consumed water bottles are then collected and thrown away in municipal garbage bins from where  it is collected and transported to Askar municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center. These water bottles thus have a high carbon footprint and represent enormous wastage of precious water source and misuse of our other fragile resources. In many cases, these water bottles are being littered around the commercial and religious places.

Plastic water bottles are a common feature in our urban daily life. Bottled water is widely used by people from all walks of life and is considered to be convenient and safer than tap water. A person on an average drinks around 2.0 liters of water a day and may consume 4-6 plastic bottles per day. UAE is considered as the highest per capita consumer of bottled water worlwide. 

We need to understand that plastic is made from petroleum.  24 million gallons of oil is needed to produce a billion plastic bottles. Plastic takes around 700 years to be degraded. 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself. 80% of plastic bottles produced are not recycled.

Globally, plastic recycling rate is very low and major quantities of plastics are being disposed in the landfills, where they stay for hundreds of years not being naturally degraded. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 5.74 cubic meters of landfill space and save cost of collection and transportation.

Water bottles manufacturing, transportation, distribution and again collection and disposal after its use create enormous pollution in terms of trash generation, global warming and air pollution. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores alone releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the plastic bottles.

The first step is that once you open a water bottle, you need to complete consume it to fully utilize the resource. Do not throw the plastic bottles as litter. The solution to the plastic bottles usage lies in its minimum use and safe disposal. Alternatively, a flask, thermos or reusable water bottle can be used which can be refilled as required. It is suggested that religious places, hotels and malls should have efficient water treatment plants to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

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التغيرالمناخي و الكوارث الطبيعية

climatechange-healthترتبط العديد من الكوارث الطبيعية مباشرة مع تغير المناخ بما فيها الفيضانات والأعاصير و موجات الحر والجفاف و حرائق الغابات والعواصف . وقد أودت مثل هذه الكوارث بحياة أكثر من 600,000 في العقدين الماضيين . تكرر و حجم هذه الكوارث في تزايد مع مرور الوقت و بدون استقرار حتى مع وجود خطط للحد من انبعاث الغازات المسببة للاحتباس الحراري (غازات الدفيئة ) و التوقيع على اتفاقية التغير المناخي في باريس.

سجل مكتب الأمم المتحدة للحد من مخاطر الكواثر, بمتوسط ​​335 كارثة متعلقة بالطقس بين عامي 2005 و 2014 ، أي بزيادة قدرها 14 ٪ مقارنة بين1995-2004 ، و تقريبا ضعف المستوى سجل خلال-1985 1995,  ووفقا للتقرير ، فقد أصيب 4.1 مليار نسمة  بلا مأوى أو كانوا في حاجة إلى مساعدة طارئة نتيجة للكوارث المرتبطة بالطقس بين عامي 1995-2015. حيث وقعت حوالي 332,000 حالة وفاة و تضرر 3.7 مليار شخص في آسيا وحدها. هذه الأرقام مقلقة و فتحت العين علينا جميعا لنفهم و لنستجيب لهذه المشكلة الملحة استنادا للفيضانات والعواصف وقد شكلت النسبة الاعلى في الوفيات الناجمة عن الكوارث الطبيعية المرتبطة بالطقس .

و وفقا للبيانات، شكلت الفيضانات 47 ٪ من جميع الكوارث المتعلقة بالطقس من1995-2015, مما أدى بالضرر  على 2.3 مليار نسمة وبوفاة 157,000شخص. حيث تعد العواصف إحدى اخطر أنواع الكوارث المرتبطة بالطقس ، وهو ما يمثل 242,000 حالة وفاة أو 40 ٪ من الوفيات الناجمة عن الأحوال الجوية العالمية ، مع 89 ٪ من هذه الوفيات تحدث في الدول ذات الدخل المنخفض.

درجات الحرارة القصوى نتيجة لظاهرة الاحتباس الحراري الناجمة عن مقتل حوالي164,000  نسمة، منهم 148,000 حالة وفاة حوالي 92 ٪ ، وقد تسبب بسبب موجات الحر . حدثت  90٪ من الوفيات الناجمة عن موجات الحر في أوروبا وحدها . في روسيا ، قتل أكثر من 55,000  شخص نتيجة لموجة الحر في عام 2010 ، حيث بلغت الوفيات 70,000 في عام 2003 في أوروبا .

و وفقا للبنك الدولي: "النقاط الساخنة من الكوارث الطبيعية : لتحليل المخاطر العالمية " تقرير صدر في مارس 2015 ، حيث وضح أن أكثر من 160 دولة لديها زيادة في عدد سكانها أكثر من الربع و بذلك احتمالية عدد الوفيات في تزايد بسبب الكوارث الطبيعية. شهد العقد الأول من القرن21،حوالي 3,496 من الكوارث الطبيعية شملت الفيضانات والعواصف, الجفاف و موجات الحر.

وفقا لمنظمة  العالمية للأرصاد الجوية ، فإن العالم معرضاً للخطر و الكوارث بما يقارب 5 أضعاف كما كان في 1970, بسبب المخاطر المتزايدة التي جلبها التغير المناخي. في العقد الماضي ارتفعت تكلفة الكوارث إلىbn 864 $, لذا نحن بحاجة إلى فهم أن التغيرات المناخية المنتشرة ليست موحدة في جميع أنحاء العالم. و من المتوقع ان يرتفع مستوى البحر في البلدان القريبة  خط الاستواء بنسبة 10-15%, و في المناطق المنخفضة و الساحلية و الجزر الصغيرة مثل البحرين. فإن ارتفاع درجات الحرارة يتسبب في مزيد من الجفاف والفيضانات و ارتفاع مستوى سطح البحر ، والإجهاد الحراري ، والمزيد من استهلاك المياه ، والمزيد من متطلبات الطاقة و التبريد و انتشار الأمراض التي تنقلها المياه مثل الكوليرا و الإسهال. وهكذا, فإنه يؤثر علينا جميعا بغض النظر عن موقعنا والمكانة.

البحرين تفهم موقفها ، و اتخذت سباقاً تخطيط وتصميم للجهود المبذولة لمعالجة هذه المشكلة العالمية من خلال الاستثمار في البنى التحتية ، واستصلاح الآمن و إعداد خطط إدارة الكوارث لمواجهة الكوارث و تهديداتها . وقد حان وقت كل فرد ليبني عادات بيئية سليمة, و الحفاظ على الموارد الطبيعية المحدودة.

ترجمة

بدرية الكيومي/ تخصص علوم بيئية, عضو في جمعية البيئة العمانية

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Earth Day 2015 – It’s Our Turn to Lead

Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2015 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time. As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. Earth Day 2015 will seek to do just that through its global theme: It’s Our Turn to Lead. With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future. Nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.

Due to rising population, more migration is taking place from rural to urban areas. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities with urbanisation rates rising and impacts of climate change have prompted the need to create sustainable communities. The Earth day is observed believing that nothing is more powerful than the collective action of a billion people.

It is a fact that people are crowding cities and with the increase in population density, pollution of all sorts is increasing as well. Many cities are finding it difficult to cope with this fast urbanisation and to provide basic facilities like shelter, infrastructures, water, sanitation, sewerage, garbage, electricity, transportation etc. to its inhabitants.

People who live in high-density air pollution area, have 20 per cent higher risk of dying from lung cancer, than people living in less polluted areas. Children contribute to only 10 per cent of the world’s population but are prone to 40 per cent of global diseases. More than 3 million children under the age of 5 years die every year due to environmental factors like pollution.

Earth Day 2015 will seek to create awareness amongst people to act in an environmental friendly manner, promote and do smart investments in sustainable urban system transforming our polluted cities into a healthier place and forge a sustainable future. It’s exceptionally challenging for our communities and cities to be green.

Time for Action

It’s time for us to invest in efficiency and renewable energy, rebuild our cities and towns, and begin to solve the climate crisis. Most of the Middle East nations have limited land area and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which is affecting the social and environmental determinants of health, clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. We need to audit our actions and see what are we contributing towards your environment and community? Earth Day is a day for action; a chance to show how important the environment is to us. Earth Day is about uniting voices around the globe in support of a healthy planet. The earth is what we all have in common.

Let us be a part of this green revolution, plan and participate in Earth Day activities moving from single-day actions, such as park cleanups and tree-planting parties to long-term actions and commitments and make our city a healthier place to live as the message of the Earth Day is to “Actively participate and adopt environmental friendly habits”.

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