Saudi Arabia’s Road to Fuel Economy

Saudi Arabia is a private car-oriented society, and has one of the world’s highest per capita fuel consumption in the transportation sector. This is primarily due to lack of efficient public transportation and current fuel subsidy policy. The country is witnessing an escalating demand on its domestic energy needs and it is imperative on policymakers to devise policies for conservation of energy resources and reduction of GHGs emissions in the transportation sector. Adapting energy-efficient fuel standards will help Saudi Arabia country to bridge the gap with the developed countries. The enforcement mechanism for the establishment of Saudi fuel economy standards will lead to achievement of strategic energy conservation objectives.

Energy intensity in Saudi Arabia has set high records reflecting the growth of the economy and the increasing demand on fossil energy in the domestic use and heavy industries operations. Energy intensity in the Kingdom was twice the world average in 2010 and with unbalanced growth between energy use and economy, this should rang the bell for the Saudi government to adapt a bundle of energy policies that curtail the increasing growth of energy demand domestically.

CAFE Standards

Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standard (CAFE) was first enacted after the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 in the USA. That policy was due to energy security concerns and environmental objectives. The USA current standard is 27.5 mpg for passenger’s vehicle and 20.7mpg for light trucks. Similarly to the USA CAFE objectives, the Kingdom approach is to reduce gasoline consumption and induce conservation and increasing efficiency of the light-duty vehicles (LDV).The proposed standard mandates require that all new and used passenger vehicles and light trucks either imported or locally manufacture should comply with new fuel standards. The framework for this law to be effective will start by January 1, 2016 and fully phased out by December 31, 2025. The Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC) and other entities including the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization, Saudi Customs, and Ministry of Commerce and Industry have been asked to monitor the implementation of the CAFE standards.

The purpose of the fuel standards is to commit the light-duty vehicle manufactures sell their cars in the kingdom and comply with the Saudi CAFE. This standard has a double dividends from the automobile manufacturer side its incentivize them to introduce the up-to-date efficiency technologies and cut the supply the low-efficient technologies to the Saudi market. The Saudi CAFE standard targets an improving in the overall fuel economy with an average of 4% annually. This would lift up the Kingdom’s fuel economy LDVs from its current level of 12 km per liter to 19 km per liter by 2025.

The Saudi CAFE standard shows a focused strategy to setting long-term standards over the course of a given time frame and its committed efforts to manage both newly imported or used LDVs. According to Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud, the Saudi transportation sector consumes about 23 percent of the total energy in the kingdom and about 12 million vehicles consume about 811,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel per day. Moreover, there are 7 LDVs entering the market every year with a forecast to reach 20 million by 2030.

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia’s CAFE standard is a means to stimulate energy efficiency and encourage resource conservation and contribute to the environment. This will enable consumers to save money, reduce fossil fuel consumption and strengthen the Kingdom’s role in the fight against climate change.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Carbon Capture and Storage: Prospects in GCC

Gulf Cooperation Council countries are burgeoning economies which are highly dependent on hydrocarbons to fuel their needs for economic growth. GCC nations are fully aware of the mounting consequences of increasing levels of CO­2 on the environment, mainly attributed to soaring energy demand of domestic and industrial sector. Regional countries are undertaking concrete steps and measures to reduce their carbon footprint through the introduction of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Among other options, Carbon Capture and Storage, popularly known as CCS, can be an attractive proposition for GCC nations.

What is CCS

Carbon capture and storage (or carbon capture and sequestration) is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation. CCS is a potential means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming and ocean acidification. As at September 2012, the Global CCS Institute identified 75 large-scale integrated projects in its 2012 Global Status of CCS report. 16 of these projects are in operation or in construction capturing around 36 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Among notable CCS projects world, In Salah project in Algeria is a fully operational onshore gas field with CO2 injection. CO2 is separated from produced gas and reinjected in the producing hydrocarbon reservoir zones. Since 2004, about 1 Mt/a of CO2 has been captured during natural gas extraction and injected into the Krechba geologic formation at a depth of 1,800m. The Krechba formation is expected to store 17Mt CO2 over the life of the project.

CCS Prospects in GCC

GCC accounts for 0.6% of the global population but ironically contributes 2.4% of the global GHG emissions per capita.  GCC countries are among the top-14 per capita emitters of carbon dioxide in the world. The GCC region is witnessing rapid economic growth and massive industrialization which has led to almost 8% growth in power consumption each year. The region is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons combustion for power generation and operation of energy-intensive industries.

There is an urgent need for carbon abatement measures for the industrial sector in Middle East nations as increasing carbon dioxide emissions will have serious repercussions for GCC and adjoining regions. Some of the potential impacts can be rise in sea level, droughts, heat waves, sandstorms, damage to ecosystem, water scarcity and loss of biodiversity. Carbon dioxide emissions reductions can be achieved from point sources such as refineries, power plants, manufacturing industries etc.

At the regional level, GCC nations have both the drivers and environmental gains to adopt the CCS technologies. Some of the GCC countries are already engaged in R&D initiatives, for example, Saudi Arabia has KACST- Technology Innovation Center on Carbon Capture and Sequestration while Saudi Aramco have their own CCS R&D program for CCS. In Qatar there is the Qatar Carbonate and Carbon Storage Research Center while Bahrain has Sitra Carbon Capture System. Recently, Masdar and ADNOC launched Middle East first Joint Venture for carbon capture usage and storage. On a multilateral level, back to 2007, King Abdullah pledged $300 million to finance a research program on the future of energy, environment and climate change. In addition, a sum of $150 million from Qatar, Kuwait and UAE has been allocated to support CCS research.

To sum up, CCS is a viable option to help GCC countries maintain their hydrocarbons-driven economies while enabling low-carbon electricity generation from existing hydrocarbons powerplants.

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Guide to Green Shopping

With the advent of December, many festivities, celebrations and seasonal parties are planned globally. These events require feverish shopping leading to usage and wastage of more resources. In addition, December is also famous for the shopping mania that grips people from all walks of life. ‘Shopping’ is certainly one of the most famous ‘indoor sport’ being practiced equally by people of developed and developing countries depending on their life style and budget and is mainy being done by the female gender.

‘Going green’ is a way forward for all of us as it is a life style change including improving our shopping and purchasing habits so that the additional environmental burden can be reduced. The market forces, industries, manufacturers are supported by extensive media and marketing campaigns which lure us to buy more and unnecessary commodities.

The responsibility of environmental stewardship lies on us to control and behave and move to ‘green shopping’ altering our pampered purchasing habits. Start by auditing your lifestyles and shopping list and see where improvement can be achieved to reduce pollution.

Being a green consumer we need to conserve resources, save  energy, and prevent waste by buying  products that are energy efficient, are used or reusable, made with  recycled content or are  recyclable and have no  or less packaging.

Green shopping involves learning how to buy smartly and keeping environmental considerations in mind. Here are some useful eco-friendly shopping tips:

  • Check if the item is ‘really’ or ‘urgently’ required. May be you do not have an immediate use or can postpone it to any later date.
  • Check what quantity and content of the item is required and for what duration?
  • What are the alternatives to the item in terms of cost, size, number etc?
  • Buy durable products instead of disposable items. Buy things which last longer and can be reused like rechargeable batteries and avoiding plastic cutlery and plates.
  • Avoid excess packaging. Look for products that have less packaging or buy in bulk meaning less garbage generation, disposal and transportation.  
  • Share items with friends. Another way to save resources and energy is to swap and exchange with friends and family instead of buying brand-new products. This includes sharing video games, CDs, DVDs etc. instead of individuals owning them.
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances and electronic items and promote energy-efficient products.
  • Buying useful presents and gifts aiming at its use and not cost.
  • Select items made with recycled-content materials.
  • When selecting between two similar products, go for the one you can re-use or re-fill later, or the one that hasn't wasted resources on a wrapper you'll throw away as soon as you get home.
  • Buy sustainable products which have the ability to be produced (over and over again) without doing much harm to the environment.
  • Buy locally made or grown food. Local foods are fresher and keep local farmers in business, while avoiding the pollution caused by transporting products around the country or region.

Let us inspire ourselves to live a greener more environmentally friendly, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Become a Green Shopper. Explore, Enjoy and Make A Difference! 

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Egypt’s Water Crisis and Degeneration of Nile

pollution-nileEgypt is struggling to cope with water shortages and food production. It is expected that Egypt’s per capita annual water supply will drop from 600 cubic meters today to 500 cubic meters by 2025, which is the UN threshold for absolute water scarcity. Egypt has only 20 cubic meters per person of internal renewable freshwater resources, and as a result the country relies heavily on the Nile for its main source of water. Water scarcity has become so severe that it has been recorded that certain areas in the country could go days without water, with pressure sometimes returning only for a few hours a week. The country can no longer delay action and must act now.

Agriculture

Agriculture contributes roughly 15% of Egypt’s GDP, and employs 32% of Egypt’s workforce with rice being the biggest produce in the country. Rice is an important part of an Egyptian family’s diet. However, the cultivation of rice is very water intensive. On average about 3000 liters of water is used to produce 1 kilo of rice. This number can vary depending on climate, soil type and water management practices.

The government has restricted cultivation of rice to an area of 1 million acres (farmers were previously able to use most of the Nile Delta for cultivation) in specified areas of the Nile Delta. The government has even resorted to taking drastic measures as spreading incendiary compounds on rice fields cultivated outside the area allocated by the government. This has caused outrage and demonstrations by farmers who insist that the area allocated is not enough for them to be able to make ends meet. This type of tension caused by the lack of water was one of the catalysts of the Arab Spring in 2011/2012.

To alleviate population tension and unrest the government has been trying to increase water supply by exploring with reusing treated agricultural and municipal wastewater for agriculture. However implementation of such initiatives is not being applied fast enough to cope with the rising demand. Government must enforce new irrigation methods in the country (Egyptian farmers still rely heavily on flood and canal irrigation in the Nile Delta) as well as smart agricultural practices such as using less water intensive crops. Resorting less water intensive water crops could drastically cut water used in agriculture and help increase water supply.

Pollution of the Nile

The Nile has been a lifeline for Egypt at least since the time of the pharaohs. Yet, despite the world’s largest river’s importance to the country, its water is being polluted by various sources, and pollution levels increasing exponentially in recent years.

The degeneration of the Nile is an issue that is regularly underestimated in Egypt. With so many people relying on the Nile for drinking, agricultural, and municipal use, the quality of that water should be of most importance. The waters are mainly being polluted by municipal and industrial waste, with many recorded incidents of leakage of wastewater, the dumping of dead animal carcasses, and the release of chemical and hazardous industrial waste into the Nile River.

Industrial waste has led to the presence of metals (especially heavy metals) in the water which pose a significant risk not only on human health, but also on animal health and agricultural production. Fish die in large numbers from poisoning because of the high levels of ammonia and lead. Agricultural production quality and quantity has been affected by using untreated water for irrigation as the bacteria and the metals in the water affect the growth of the plant produce, especially in the Nile Delta where pollution is highest.

Industrial pollution is wrecking havoc in Nile

Industrial pollution is wrecking havoc in Nile

Of course the pollution of Nile is a complex problem that has been continuing for more than 30 years and the government is trying to implement stricter rules on the quality and type of waste/wastewater dumped into the river to reduce the pollution of the Nile. However, swift and decisive action must be taken towards cleaning the Nile, such as treating the wastewater prior to disposal, and placing stricter restrictions on industries to dispose of their waste safely and responsibly. This issue cannot be ignored any further as the continual increase in population will cause an increase in demand on Egypt’s dwindling water resources. Every drop of water counts.

The Blue Nile Dam

Another challenge at hand is tackling the issue of Ethiopia building a dam and hydroelectric plant upstream that may cut into Egypt’s share of the Nile. For some time a major concern for Egypt was Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the Blue Nile watershed, which is a main source of water for the Nile River. Construction of the Renaissance Dam started in December 2010, and has the capacity to store 74 to 79 billion cubic meters of water and generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity for Ethiopia a year. This creates major concern for Egypt, who is worried that this damn would decrease the amount of water it receives (55.5 billion cubic meters) from the Nile River. Egypt is concerned that during dry months, not enough water will be released from the GERD thus decreasing the water received downstream. This will greatly hinder Egypt’s attempts to alleviate the water shortages during those months.

Earlier this year, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan assigned two French companies to prepare a report on the impact of the dam on the three countries. This report will clarify the affects the Dam will have on downstream countries. The results of this report are yet to be released. 

Conclusion

In case of business-as-usual scenario, Egypt runs the risk of becoming an absolute water scarce country in less than a decade. Therefore Egypt has a battle on its hands to ensure adequate conditions for its population. Like many other water scarce countries around the world, it needs to mitigate water scarcity by implementing smart conservation techniques, adopting water saving technologies, and control water pollution. With climate conditions expected to get drier and heat waves expected to become more frequent in the MENA region, Egypt cannot afford to neglect its water conservation policies and must act immediately to meet the population’s water demand.

 

Sources of Information

http://www.ecomena.org/egypt-water/

http://www.mfa.gov.eg/SiteCollectionDocuments/Egypt%20Water%20Resources%20Paper_2014.pdf

http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/nile/nile.pdf

http://planetearthherald.com/egypt-faces-water-crisis-the-end-of-the-nile-as-we-knew-it/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/04/egypt-water-crisis-intensifies-scarcity

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2016/04/30/Egypt-must-preserve-its-lifeline-by-tackling-the-water-crisis-now.html

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/476db2e5769344c48997d41eb319bf64/egypt-looks-avert-water-crisis-driven-demand-waste

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/06/14/470358/Egypt-water-crisis-street-protests-Dakahlia-North-Sinai

http://phys.org/news/2016-04-egypt-avert-crisis-driven-demand.html

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/egypt-crops-water-crisis-state-emergency.html

https://tcf.org/content/report/egyptian-national-security-told-nile/

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/egypt-water-minister-interview-nile-drought-ethiopia-sudan.html

http://ecesr.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ECESR-Water-Polllution-En.pdf

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/05/egypt-nile-water-pollution-phosphate-ammonia-fish-drinking.html

http://www.aqua-waterfilter.com/index.php/en/articles/water-pollution/61-water-pollution-in-egypt.html

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/environmental-studies/water-pollution-in-egypt.php

https://usarice.com/blogs/usa-rice-daily/2015/08/28/egypt-bans-rice-exports-as-of-september-1

http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/ericeproduction/III.1_Water_usage_in_rice.htm

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/en/originals/2016/04/egypt-ethiopia-drought-renaissance-dam-conflict.html

http://phys.org/news/2010-11-rice-production-withers-egypt.html

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/egypt-crops-water-crisis-state-emergency.html

http://www.salini-impregilo.com/en/projects/in-progress/dams-hydroelectric-plants-hydraulic-works/grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam-project.html

http://www.juancole.com/2016/06/conflict-ethiopias-renaissance.html

Sustainable Agriculture: Perspectives for Jordan Valley

agriculture-palestineSustainable agriculture development is one of the most important pillars of the EcoPeace Middle East's Jordan Valley Master Plan as it provides livelihood and prosperity for all the people in the valley. The strategic agricultural objective for the study area is improving water use and irrigation efficiencies and economic outputs per unit of water used, and meanwhile stabilize, or even reduce the total water demands for the agricultural sector in the Jordan Valley. This will require adequate tariff policies on water used for irrigation, including enforcement, to stimulate more efficient use of water through for instance greenhouse drip irrigation. These are challenges specifically relevant for Jordan and Palestine.

Greenhouses are a very effective manner to improve water efficiencies and economic outputs in the agricultural sector, using greenhouses reduce the production related risks, provide for better quality crops and provide wider options for crop diversification. Finally, evapotranspiration from greenhouses is substantially less than from open field agriculture (and it does not cause soil salinity). However, greenhouses decrease open spaces, with negative visual impacts to rural landscapes and to wildlife corridors. Hence greenhouse development needs to be carefully planned and many farmers would require adequate and reliable micro-credits in order to invest in greenhouses.

Drip irrigation is another effective manner to improve water efficiencies in the open fields. The challenge is to set up sustainable drip irrigation systems in the Jordan Valley, including appropriate operations and maintenance and monitoring systems. This requires also financial facilities for farmers to invest, standardization of designs and manufacturing and provision of technical support services.

A related challenge is to maximize the reuse of treated wastewater, efficient use of pesticides and fertilizers, introduction or expansion of growing high yield crops, and improving extension services and post harvesting support to the farmers to enable them to create higher economic returns.

Pollution and mismanagement has severely damaged the Jordan River

Pollution and mismanagement has severely damaged the Jordan River

Another major challenge is to address the negative environmental impacts associated with the fish farms. These farms consume substantial amounts of water, due to high evaporation rates, which may be as much as 1-2 meter of water per year. In addition the ponds are flushed once or twice per year, releasing water into the Jordan River, which is polluted with excrements from the fishes, and anti-biotic medications that have to be added to the fish ponds. Due to the evaporation, the effluent is usually brackish as well. Consequently, discharging this wastewater into the environment has substantial impacts to surface water and groundwater quality.

Mitigating these impacts require investments in wastewater treatment facilities, and converting the process to a closed system. Without resolving these issues the future of this industry in the valley must be in doubt, despite any ecological benefits that the fish farms present for bird migration and associated tourism related to bird watching. The master plan sees the need to ensure that those communities relying currently on the fish ponds as their main source of income enjoy stability and that they be supported in the effort to move to closed systems.

A related challenge will be to strengthen the Extension Services for the farmers in the Jordan Valley. These services might be provided through the existing water user associations. In terms of rural economics, an important challenge is to improve the post-harvesting and marketing potentials of the farmers in the Jordan Valley, including setting up product organizations, better information about markets (nationally and internationally) and related product requirements and creating better access to export markets, with particular focus on eco-friendly and sustainable production techniques, regional labeling and fair-trade related markets.

Note: This is the third article in our special series on 'Regional Integrated NGO Master Plan for the Jordan Valley.

رحلة عائلية خضراء بمنتجات بلاستيكية أقل

الرحلات العائلية هي أجمل اللحظات التي تجمع افراد العائلة في مكان واحد كالمواقع السياحية التي تبرز جمال الطبيعة مثل شاطئ البحر، العيون المائية ، الأودية، الكثبان الرملية الخ. لكن طالما الاستمتاع بروعة هذه المناظر لا يكتمل، فأصبحت القمامة تغزوا أرجاء الموقع و تشوه المنظر الطبيعي. حيث أن نسبة المنتجات البلاستيكية تشكل الجزء الأكبر من القمامة الملقاةتتراكم المنتجات البلاستيكية بألوانها وأشكالها المختلفة في الطبيعة لمدة زمنية كبيرة بدون تحلل و يرجع ذألك للخواص الكيميائية المكونة للبلاستيك، والتي ينتهي بها المطاف إلى مجاري المياه مثل الانهار والمحيطات، انتشارها في المناطق المحيطة او تراكمها في مرادم النفايات حيث يتم حرقها او دفنها.

في ظل التطورات و الازدهار زاد الطلب على المنتجات البلاستيكية التي توفر الخيار الأسهل في الحمل والاستخدام وبأقل تكلفة مالية، لذلك يستسهل الكثير من الناس شراء المنتجات البلاستيكية لتكفيه أغراض الرحلة مثل الاكواب، علب الماء والعصير، الاطباق، حاويات الطعام، الأكياس، الملاعق وغيرها الكثير. كل هذه المنتجات البلاستيكية تعتبر مواد دخيلة على الطبيعة و تشكل خطر تهديد للعوامل البيئية الحية والغير حية.وجود البلاستيك في مياه السطحية يتسبب في موت الاسماك الصغيرة و الحيتان، عن طريق ابتلاع أجزاء البلاستيك، كذلك العوالق البحرية التي تعرف  Zooplanktons، مما يتسبب في تدهور النظام البحري وتقلص التنوع الأحيائي البحري.  بينما لا يختلف الوضع في اليابسة حيث أن قطع البلاستيك يتم ابتلاعها كذلك من قبل الحيوانات و الطيور و والزواحف ليتسبب ذلك في نفوقها و تدهور النظام.

كل ذاك حاصل، ولكن ماذا عن نشر التوعية البيئية بين أفراد المجتمع للوصول إلى استخدام أقل للمنتجات البلاستيكية في الرحلات والمناسبات العائلية .هناك عدة طرق لتحقيق هذه المسألة؛ اولاً، ابتعد تماماً عن شراء منتجات بلاستيكية ذو الاستخدام لمرة واحدة فقط. ثانياً، استخدم المنتجات القابلة لإعادة التدوير. ثالثاً، علب الماء البلاستيكية استبدلها بقوارير الماء الشخصية ذات الاستخدام اليومي و التي لا يمكن رميها كعلبة البلاستيك. رابعاً، استخدم اكياس القماش لجمع وحمل الأغراض بدلاً من الاكياس البلاستيكية. خامسا,  في موقع الرحلة قدم النصيحة لجميع افراد أسرتك لجعل المكان نظيف و آمن في أثناء وقت الرحلة وبعده. كذلك لا تنسى وضع كيس بلاستيكي قابل لإعادة التدوير كحاوية نفايات مبسطة وبعد ذلك يمكنك رميها في اقرب حاوية نفايات. وأخيراً استمتع بالوقت مع عائلتك وانتم بأمان.

 كل فرد مسؤول عن تدهور النظام البيئي الذي يشكل خطر في وجود البشرية و وجود الكائنات الحية كذلك. أحد أشهر مقولات الزعيم الهندي الأحمر سياتل: "عند اقتلاع آخر شجرة و تسمم آخر نهر و نفوق آخر سمكة، سنكتشف أننا لا نستطيع أن نأكل المال".

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Sustainable Water Management and River Rehabilitation in Jordan Valley

jordan-riverIn the context of EcoPeace Middle East's recently released Regional Integrated NGO Master Plan, the key challenge in sustainable water management is to overcome the water scarcity related problems  in the Jordan Valley. This means creating a sustainable water supply system that meets the current and future domestic and agricultural water demands; and at the same time preserves the water resources for future generations and for the environment. This requires an Integrated Water Resources Management regime for the whole (Lower) Jordan River, based on international co-operation among Israel, Jordan and Palestine, supported with adequate water management tools (like WEAP) to ensure sustainable water supply and an increase of the baseflow and rehabilitation of the ecological values of the Jordan River.

One of the related key challenges is to achieve full treatment of wastewater generated in the study area and full reuse for agricultural purposes. This will both reduce public health related risks and strengthen the agricultural sector. This requires development of a detailed technical and financial plan, including designs and tender documents, for full scale collection, treatment and reuse of the locally generated wastewater flows, including domestic, industrial (mainly oliveoil wastewater in Jordan) and manure management.

Another key challenge is to restore the function of the lower part of the Jordan River as a natural river and water conveyor in the valley for supply purposes, by keeping its flow as long as possible in the river. Rehabilitating the river will include actions in terms of realizing at least one minor flood (c.a. 20-50 m3/sec) per year. In order to bring back the original habitats of the river, also the flow bed of the river are to be widened to about 50-70 m in the north and at least 30 m in the south, with flood plains on both sides.

The salinity of the Jordan River has a natural tendency to increase downstream. This is caused by natural drainage of brackish groundwater into the river, particularly in the southern part of the valley near the Dead Sea. The key challenge is to prevent any inflow of salt or brackish surface water into the river above the point where the river would still be fresh, i.e. above the confluent with Wadi Qelt. This implies bypassing the salt water from the Israeli Saline Water Carrier (SWC), the brackish water from the Israeli Fish Ponds, and the brine from the Abu Zeighan desalination plant to a new outflow located south of the river’s confluent with Wadi Qelt, close to the Dead Sea. If this will be done, the river will be able to provide water of good quality for different user functions. In terms of chloride concentrations this means a maximum of 400 mg/l for drinking water purposes; 600 mg/l for fresh water irrigation; and 1500 mg/l for irrigation of date palms.

An olive oil mill in Jordan

An olive oil mill in Jordan

Another key challenge is to maintain total agricultural water demands at the same level as today, with the exception of Palestine which is currently heavily underdeveloped in terms of agriculture. To achieve a sustainable water balance within the valley and sufficient flows in the river it will furthermore be required that around 2020 Israel will largely cease pumping water to the extent possible out of the valley from the Sea of Galilee through the National Water Carrier (NWC), meanwhile maintaining its present agricultural water consumption within the valley; that the Sea of Galilee will be kept on a medium water level between the top and bottom red lines ("green line" as defined by the Israeli Water Authority); and that by 2050 Jordan will stop diverting water from the Yarmouk and other tributaries to the Kind Abdullah Canal (KAC) to the extent possible, and instead will use the Jordan River as main conveyor for its irrigation supply purposes. In addition, by 2050 Palestine would also use the Jordan River as its main water conveyor, meaning that the planned development of the West Ghor Canal will not be built.

These challenges require a series of related interventions, including adequate water data monitoring and modeling; promotion of water saving and water demand management measures in all sectors; provision of related training and institutional strengthening support services; improved regulations and enforcement on groundwater abstractions to stop groundwater depletion and salination; and implementation of efficient water pricing policies and related enforcement.

In terms of water governance, the challenge will be to strengthen the authorities, including JVA, PWA, in their role as regulator of the water sector in the Jordan Valley. This includes skills with regard to water data collection and management; water resources planning; efficient operations of the water storage and supply system; and strengthening the co-operation with the local water user associations. It also includes monitoring, regulations and enforcement of surface water and groundwater abstractions; protection of sensitive shallow aquifers, efficient tariff policies, and monitoring reduction of agricultural pollution loads.

Note: This is the second article in our special series on 'Regional Integrated NGO Master Plan for the Jordan Valley'. 

The Holy Quran: A New Ecological Paradigm

Among the world scriptures, the Holy Quran provides a unique resource for building a new ecological paradigm. Grounded in the Abrahamic tradition, it presents a harmonious view of nature reminiscent of the Far East. In the Quran, "whatsoever is the heavens and on the earth glorifies God" (59:1; 61:1; 62:1; 64:1). "The stars and the trees prostrate" (55:6), "the thunder hymns His praise" (13:13), and "unto God prostrates whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is on the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, and the beasts" (22:18). In these and many other verses, the whole of creation is presented as a Divine symphony, for "there is no thing, save that it hymns His praise, though you do not understand their praise. Truly He is Clement, Forgiving" (17:44).

Common Cause of Humanity

According to the latest results from the Pew Research Center, by 2050, over 60% of the world's population will be Christian or Muslim: 29.7% will be Muslim and 31.4% will be Christian. Muslims and Christians have no choice but to come together to work for the common cause of humanity in confronting this unprecedented challenge. Moreover, to take root in humanity any sustainable ecological worldview must incorporate and address the teachings that much of humanity seeks to follow. As Pope Francis observes, the solutions cannot come from science and technology alone.

The extinction of species and the eradication of pristine environments are like the removal of a section from this orchestra of which we are all a part. The Quran thus enjoins us to "walk not exultantly upon the earth" (17:63) and to view the whole of nature as "signs for a people who hear" (10:67; 16:65; 30:23), "signs for a people who reflect" (13:3; 30:21), and "signs for a people who understand" (2:164; 13:4; 16:12, 67; 30:24; 45:5). Yet, in our rapacious approach to nature, we have failed to reflect and thus become like those of whom the Quran says, "they have hearts with which they understand not; they have eyes with which they see not; and they have ears with which they hear not" (7:179). Unable to see, listen and understand, we have become like one of whom the Quran warns, "when he turns away [from God’s signs], he endeavors to work corruption upon the earth, and to destroy tillage and offspring" (2:205).

Relevance of the Papal Encyclical

Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si ("Praised Be"), is a clarion call to all of humanity. It also provides an important opportunity to expand the conversation regarding the relationship between religion and the environment. Many scientists maintain that we have reached "decade zero" for addressing climate change. We thus have no choice but to mine the riches of all the world's traditions to create new paradigms and new solutions to environmental degradation. As the encyclical states, "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots, concern and affect us all."

The Papal Encyclical provides an unprecedented opportunity for the people of the world's faith traditions to turn away from the corruption we have wrought and open our hearts to one another and to the plea of Mother Nature. For her fate will be determined by the decisions of our generation. By drawing upon the shared teachings of our traditions, humanity can again learn to honor the immutable rights of rivers, animals and trees, as well as human beings suffering inhumane working conditions. By bearing witness of our own transgressions, we can reverse our course and ensure that the rights of God's creation prevail over the transient interests of corporations. As Pope Francis observes, we have no choice but to take this direction and to work with one another.

For Muslims and Christians, the place of human beings is not to subdue the earth. It is to hear the patterns already established within nature and live in harmony with them, had we but eyes to see and ears to hear. In both Christianity and Islam, human beings are presented as stewards of the earth. In the Quran, this responsibility is both an honor and a trial.

Verse 6:165 states, God it is Who appointed you stewards upon the earth and raised some of you by degrees above others, that He may try you in that which He has given you. From this perspective, being stewards of nature is about our responsibility toward God, not our dominion over creation. Neither the Bible nor the Quran has any place for what Pope Francis calls "a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.

We will thus be held accountable for the degree to which we have carried out our function as stewards. As the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said, "The world is a green and pleasant thing. God has made you stewards of it, and looks at how you behave."

Conclusion

Given the state of the environmental crisis and the alarming increase in environmental degradation, one cannot but conclude that contemporary humanity has failed this test. The world and our children can no longer afford the cost of our failures. It is thus time that people of all faiths unite and in the words of Martin Luther King, "rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world."

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The Problem of CO2-Caused Acidification

“The CO2 problem” has traditionally been understood as the fact that excessive CO2 produces global warming. But near the end of the 20th century, scientists started talking about a second CO2 problem, “ocean acidification”. Ocean acidification results from the fact that about 30 percent of our CO2 emissions have been absorbed by the ocean. This absorption keeps down the warming of the atmosphere that would otherwise be produced by these emissions. Ocean acidification involves the ocean’s pH, changes in which make the water become either more alkaline or more acidic. Tests have shown that “for more than 600,000 years the ocean had a pH of approximately 8.2.” But since the industrial revolution, the ocean’s pH has dropped by 0.1 unit. That may not sound like much, “but pH is a logarithmic scale, so the decline in fact represents a whopping 30 percent increase in acidity.” Moreover, the IPCC has said that if business as usual continues, the pH may drop down to 7.8, which “would correspond to a 150 percent increase in acidity since pre-industrial times.”

Why is acidification destructive? When carbon dioxide is combined with water, it produces carbonic acid – which is the ingredient that, besides giving soft drinks their fizz, also eats out limestone caves. Its relevance here is that it does this to animals with chalky skeletons – that is, ones that calcify – “which make up more than a third of the planet’s marine life.” Elevating the percentage of carbonic acid will make it increasingly difficult for calcifying organisms to make their skeletons – organisms such as plankton, corals, sea butterflies, molluscs, crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, and snails.

Most of us are, of course, especially interested in the ones we like to eat. More important for the cycle of life, however, are two tiny organisms, corals and plankton, which are at the base of the marine food web.

Phytoplankton

There are two basic types of plankton: phytoplankton, which are microscopic plants, and zooplankton, which are microscopic animals. The most basic type is phytoplankton, because they are capable of photosynthesis and are thereby the food for zooplankton (which in turn provide food for bigger animals). Besides providing about half of the biosphere’s oxygen, phytoplankton also account for about half of the total organic matter on Earth, so they provide “the basic currency for everything going on in the ocean.” We do not, of course, feast directly on phytoplankton, but they “ultimately support all of our fishes.”

Therefore, a reduction in the ocean’s phytoplankton is extremely serious: A major study in 2010 has already indicated that there has been an astounding reduction: 40 percent since the 1950s. “A 40 percent decline,” said Worm (one of the study’s coauthors), “would represent a massive change to the global biosphere.” Indeed, he said, he could not think of a biological change that would be bigger. Referring to this 2010 study, Joe Romm said: “Scientists may have found the most devastating impact yet of human-caused global warming.” Explaining the importance of the study, its lead author, Daniel Boyce, said that “a decline of phytoplankton affects everything up the food chain.”

In 2013, additional studies suggested that phytoplankton are very sensitive to warmer water. In one study, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on the normal spring surge of phytoplankton, which provides food for various types of fish when they are producing offspring. In the spring of 2013, the North Atlantic’s water temperatures were “among the warmest on record” and the springtime plankton blooms of northern New England were well below normal, “leading to the lowest levels ever seen for the tiny organisms.”

Corals

Corals form coral reefs, which have been called the “rainforests of the sea,” because they play host to much of the oceans’ life. Already threatened by bleaching, which is caused by global warming, they are now further threatened by global warming’s evil twin. Corals form their skeletons by means of calcium carbonate in the sea water. As the water becomes more acidic, it is harder for the corals to calcify. In the past 30 years, calcification rates of corals on the Great Barrier Reef have declined by 40 percent. “There’s not much debate,” said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland, “about how [the decline] happens: put more CO2 into the air above and it dissolves into the oceans.“

This decline has not only occurred off Australia. A 2013 study of coral reefs in the Caribbean found that many of them “have either stopped growing or are on the threshold of starting to erode,” due to difficulty in accumulating sufficient calcium carbonate. The amount of new carbonate being added to the reefs was found to be far below historical rates, in some cases 70 percent lower. And yet the accumulation of carbonate is necessary for the reef to grow vertically, which is essential, given the rising sea level; coral reefs need to be close enough to the surface for sunlight to reach them. The leader of the study said: “Our estimates of current rates of reef growth in the Caribbean are extremely alarming.”

A World without Seafood

Acidification, which threatens both phytoplankton and corals, has speeded up. Professor Timothy Wootten of the University of Chicago reported in 2008 that the pH level was “going down 10 to 20 times faster than the previous models predicted.” The more it goes down, the more difficult it will be for organisms such as corals and phytoplankton to calcify. CO2 in the atmosphere is now at about 400 parts per million. If it reaches roughly 500 ppm, according to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, “you put calcification out of business in the oceans.”

If and when this occurs, phytoplankton and corals will die, and their death will mean that crabs, clams, oysters, and scallops will disappear. And they are already disappearing, faster every year. In the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, the waters have become so acidic that the once-thriving shellfish industry there is on life support.” In 2014, scallop growers in a location near Vancouver, B.C., reported that 10 million scallops over the past two years had died, with the mortality rate hitting between 95 to 100 percent.

The disappearance of the phytoplankton will also lead to the death of sardines, which are just above them in the food chain. And “the sardine population from California to Canada is vanishing,” resulting in starving sea lion and seal pups, and brown pelicans are showing signs of starvation, not raising any chicks in the past four years. Eventually, the disappearance of phytoplankton and corals will mean that all fish will go, as emphasized by a film subtitled Imagine a World without Fish. “Continued rise in the acidity of the oceans,” the script forewarns, “will cause most of the world’s fisheries to experience a total bottom-up collapse.”

A world without fish and other kinds of seafood is hard to imagine. It would be even harder for the planet’s people to live without seafood: Besides being the world’s largest source of protein, with over 2.6 billion people depending on it as their primary source of protein, the ocean also serves as the primary source of food for 3.5 billion people.47 How would we survive if three and a half-billion people can no longer rely upon what has always been their primary source of food? “Global warming is incredibly serious,” said Hoegh-Guldberg, “but ocean acidification could be even more so.”

Conclusion

Nevertheless, although the world’s governments have been warned about acidification for many years, already in 2010 the oceans were “acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.” CO2-caused climate changes have already made the planet’s food shortage worse. Over the next three decades, climate changes will make it still worse. These shortages will be further exacerbated by the reduction of seafood because of CO2-caused ocean acidification.

Note: This excerpt has been published from Prof. David Griffin's book Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis which is available at this link.

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Tackling Litter in Jordan

Garbage_JordanIn the recent past, Amman was among the cleanest cities in the world. These days, like many other countries, Jordan experiences littering of all waste types in its public areas, which has serious impacts on the environment, the economy, the aesthetic appearance of the regions that experience littering, and the public health.

The "Invisible Trash"

Littering which has become a national scourge is omnipresent in Jordan. Drive along any road in Jordan and you will see all types of  litter, including cans, cigarette butts, plastic bags, tissues, sandwich wrappers, and old tyres. To outline the problem, an observational study was carried out by the writer in 2011 in Wakalat Street. The study made manifest the erroneous perception of cleanliness in public areas.  The interviewee reported the area as “clean” and overlooked litter that had accumulated on roadsides and had filled plant pots. 

Daily scene of “invisible trash” despite the spreading of trash cans along the Wakalat Street.

Daily scene of “invisible trash” despite the spreading of trash cans along the Wakalat Street.

Reasons behind Littering

In the past few years, similar changes in population patterns have led to dramatic changes in all forms of human activities. As expected, this has led to the production of ever-growing quantities of wastes. Among the factors that contribute to increase littering are the nature of the Municipal council, lack of waste management infrastructure, an increase in the poverty rate, influxes of refugees, and, most importantly, changes in citizens’ behavior have all contributed to increase littering.  

The aforementioned study revealed another reason for littering, which was an erroneous perception of what “cleanliness” constituted. Furthermore, a gap between theoretical and practical aspects of environmental knowledge led to Jordanians’ failure to see how environmental problems applied to their daily lives. Thus, they are unlikely act on them appropriately.

Carelessness in discarding the trash in the middle of streets in Zarqa

Carelessness in discarding the trash in the middle of streets in Zarqa

Social Perception

Jordanians define littering in terms of ethics or acculturation. They perceive littering as lack of civility, education, or as a result of carelessness, as well as something that is haram (forbidden) in Islam.

Strategy to Combat Littering

Individuals and NGOs are working hard to organize many anti-littering and clean-up campaigns. Encouraging behavioral change is a challenging task due to pressing socioeconomic issues such as poverty and unemployment.

Perhaps the most distinctive level of the protection framework is public participation. Therefore, conservation efforts should include the support and participation of citizens, researchers, municipalities, industry, and other sectors. To give practical solutions to prevent littering in Jordan, it is important that they fit our cultural background and come from our pioneer heritage which should be merged with modern knowledge. The following are applicable solutions to the tackle litter problem in Jordan:

  • Adequate Municipal Waste Infrastructure

The municipal waste infrastructure has not been able to keep up with rapid growth and the influx of refugees. Sustainable disposal infrastructure and facilities as well as recycling stations are a prerequisite to solving the grim reality of the litter problem.

  • General Awareness

Fortunately, Jordanians are aware that the issue is increasing. However, volunteers become discouraged when their hard work disappears under a fresh layer of litter. Thus, a comprehensive behavioral change package should be carried out at the national level.

Despite the inclusion of environmental topics in school curricula and conveying it through the media, there is a disconnection between theoretical and practical aspects. Therefore, environmental stewardship must be made relevant to daily life. Moreover, the ideas of cleanliness have to be emphasized in the media as it is rooted in Arab-Islamic culture. More environmental stewardship programs should be adopted in schools; a leading example is the eco-schools program run by JREDS. Such programs should be extended to universities, with a community service course being integrated into graduation requirements and including a cleaning up theme.

  • Ownership

Jordanians take great care of what that they feel ownership over. The Jordanian sense of ownership of public spaces should be expanded. Nationalism should be presented as being responsible for the country and its environment.

  • Effective Law Enforcement

In 2012, GAM launched an ongoing campaign to discourage littering behavior by charging 20 JD fines for littering. It resulted in a drop in the number of littering violations by 13% within the space of a year (2014-2015), confirming the importance of implementing legislation to tackle the problem of littering. As littering is illegal in Jordan, a campaign for publishing the country litter laws that ban litter should be launched. Moreover, financial incentives for cleaning up should be adopted.

  • Community Recycling Bank 

Empowering local communities to solve their own environmental problems is essential to influence the actions of the public towards the desired goal. Recycling initiatives can be locally sustained by individual actors and should be used as income generators for the families involved. Recyclable material would be separated at the household level, then stored in a simple community recycling bank to be sold to scrap traders. Such an initiative would eliminate waste by transforming it from a nuisance to a resource.

  • Business Owners’ Responsibility

Businesses that create litter such as fast-food restaurants should play an active role in stopping litter. Their social responsibility to society and their customers’ demands that they encourage the proper disposal of food wrappers through campaigns and incentives. Furthermore, officials must oblige real estate and factory owners to maintain their land in public view and keep it free of construction and industrial waste.

  • Informal Waste Reclamation

Waste Reclaiming is the collection and reuse or sell the waste materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills by the municipal system. Creation a business model that adopt, organize, and cooperate with informal Waste reclaimers, will help in solving the waste problem and expanding Jordanian employment opportunities.

Conclusion

Today, we are in deep need for modern sustainable techniques derived from our heritage, compatible with our civilization, identity, and the climate of our country, and in consistent with the beliefs of Islam, which state to preserve the balanced relationship with the rest of the elements of creation.

 

References

  1. Abboud, N. (April 2011), Personal interviews.
  2. JT. "Princess Basma Launches Campaign to Combat Littering." Jordan Times. N.p., 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 July 2016.
  3. Namrouqa, Hana. "'Over 4,000 Littering Violations Recorded on Amman's Streets in July'" Jordan Times. N.p., 05 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 July 2016.
  4. UNESCO Office in Amman." UNESCO Campaign to Combat Use of Plastic Bags in Jordan. UNESCO, 30 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 July 2016.
  5. Hardin, Rozilla. "Roadside Litter Is a Local Problem." Elizabethton. Elizabethton, 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2016.
  6. Water .. "Jordan: Tackling Marine Litter." Revolve Water. ., 2014. Web. 2016.
  7. Dahshan, Jad. "No to Littering." Jordan Times, 09 June 2015. Web. 20 July 2016.
  8. Makansi, Elena. "No Time To Waste Can This Littered Country Transform Itself?" Family Flavours Details. Web. 21 July 2016.
  9. Namrouqa , Hana. "'13% drop registered in littering violations in Amman' ." Jordan Times. Dec 30,2015. Web. 20 July 2016.
  10. SWEEPNET. "Country Report on the Solid Waste Management in JORDAN." (2014): 9. Web.

Mitigating the Effects of Sand and Dust Storms

Sand and dust storms cause significant negative impacts on society, economy and environment at local, regional and global scale.  There are three key factors responsible for the generation of sand and dust storms – strong wind, lack of vegetation and absence of rainfall. The environmental and health hazards of such storms cannot be reduced permanently, however its impact can be reduced by taking appropriate measures.

As the dust cloud rises, it reduces the horizontal visibility which can impact human life in many ways. The fine suspended particles also contain contaminants, bacteria, pollens, which cause negative health impacts such as allergies and respiratory diseases. Dust also carries air borne pollutants such as toxins, heavy metals, salt, sulphur, pesticides etc which cause significant health impacts when people inhale the contaminated dust.  Dust can corrode buildings and other built infrastructure as it contains high level of salts, especially in the GCC countries. The major impacts of sand and dust storms are listed below:

Environmental and Health Impacts

  • Poor air quality – This is due to increase in contaminant loads and dangerously high level of breathable suspended particles in the air during sand and dust storms.
  • Increase in environmental hazards relating to transportation, building and health.
  • Dust deposition on landscape can cause drying of leaves, retard the growth of plant and cause damage to crops.
  • Suspended dust particles in water can obstruct the penetration of sunlight into the sea floor and hence affect marine life cycle.

Social Impacts

  • Ill heath from inhalation of fine suspected dust particles and pollutants present in the dust
  • Road accidents and aviation hazards due to poor visibility
  • Delay in landing and take-off of air flights and restricted ship movement
  • Increase in stress associated with crop damage

Economic Impacts

  • Damage to physical structures such as buildings, roads, swimming pools etc. due to dust deposition
  • Costs associated with cleaning of infiltrated dust inside the house and building and cleaning of vehicles
  • Cost of removing sand from road and buildings
  • Costs associated with accidents, material loss, delay in flights, delay in movement of vehicles,
  • Costs associated with clearing of buried construction infrastructure such as oil pipelines due to sand and dust during the storms

Reducing the Effect of Sand and Dust Storms

The effects of sand and dust storms can be reduced by using a number of health & safety measures and environmental control strategies.  Large-scale sand and dust storms are generally natural phenomena and it may not be always practicable to prevent it happening. However, control measures can be taken to reduce its impacts. Localised small-scale dust emission due to human induced activities can be reduced by using temporary mechanical methods such as concrete barrier, mulching, tree buffer etc.  

  • Take appropriate control of dust raising factors such as increasing the vegetation cover where possible. It helps in stabilization of the soil, sand dunes and form windbreaks.
  • Use of native plants and trees as buffer can reduce wind velocity and sand drifts at the same increase the soil moisture
  • Design buildings appropriately and conduct air infiltration testing during building commissioning.

Some health and safety measures that should be taken to minimise the adverse impacts due to the dust storm are:

  • Take extra precautionary measures for vulnerable population group such as children, elderly and sick people.
  • Use dust masks – Dust masks have filters which can filter out small particles and contaminants. Hence, mask should be used during the dust storms. Put a wet towel or tissue on the nose and mouth and drink lots of fluid.
  • Clean your face, nose and mouth frequently to prevent any dust entering into lungs and inhale some water through your nose in order to clean the nose of dust particles.
  • Close the doors and windows tightly, pulling all curtains up and put wet towels on the small holes that may be round windows
  • Restricting outdoor activities and staying inside the house.

 

References

  • Speer MS (2013) Dust storm frequency and impact over Eastern Australia determined by state of Pacific climate system. Weather and Climate Extremes, Vol 2, page 16-21.
  • Shivakumar MVK (2005) Impact of sand storms/ dust storms on agriculture.  Natural Disasters and Extreme Events in Agriculture. Publisher – Springer eBook, page  159-177.
  • Mohammad, Mohammad-Shafi Abdullah (1989) Dust storm phenomena and their environmental impacts in Kuwait, PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Top 5 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Footprint

With recent reports on the staggering amount of plastic waste floating in our oceans, rivers and lakes, it is high time we start doing something about this problem. Recycling is good, but for many reasons, it is not the answer to the global plastic pollution. We must all learn how to reduce the amount of plastic waste we are producing in the first place. Here are my five favorite ways to reduce your personal plastic footprint.

Bring Your Own Bag

Billions of plastic shopping bags are used worldwide every year. Shops give them out for free to their customers, but they have a huge environmental cost. Few are ever recycled and many of them end up in our seas, where they are mistaken for jellyfish and ingested by turtles and other marine animals. Help cut down on the number of plastic bags used by bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarkets and refusing the disposable ones.

You don't have to buy new bags; use the bags you already have – backpacks, rucksacks, purses, the baskets on your bicycles. You can also reuse the plastic bags you already have. Give them a rinse if needed between uses. If you need to buy new bags, buy ones made from cotton. Avoid the polypropylene bags that look like fabric; they are actually made from plastic. They are not washable and they fall apart quickly.

Once you've got some bags, the next step is making it a habit to bring them with you on your shopping trips. Put some reusable bags in places that help you remember them. Keep some next to your wallet or keys. Stuff some in your purse. Tie some to your bike handles. Put a few in your glove compartment. With practice, it will become second nature to grab your reusable bags!

Don't Buy Bottled Water

Plastic water bottles are one of the most common items of trash found in our waterways. Unfortunately, accessing clean drinking water that's not in a bottle can sometimes be a challenge in the Middle East. The water in our homes may not always be drinkable straight from the tap. Invest in a water filter and have it installed for your whole house or just your kitchen tap. There are many filters available on the market. Research them and decide which is best for you. Next, invest in a reusable water bottle that you can fill before you leave the house. Stainless steel is best if you can find it. Buy one for each member of your family. If you must purchase bottled water, look for a company that provides the large returnable and refillable bottles.

Say No to Straws

Yes, those little plastic straws we get in our drinks add up to a huge problem. When placing an order for a cold drink, tell the waiter that you do not need a straw. If you really can't drink without one, check out options for reusable straws. You can purchase stainless steel, glass, and paper straws from various online shops.

Bring Your Own Containers

Ordering food for takeaway? Bring your own reusable containers and ask the restaurant to put your food in those instead of the plastic or polystyrene ones. If you order a lot of takeaway, consider investing in a set of reusable utensils so that you can also refuse the plastic disposable ones. Wooden or bamboo forks, knives, and spoons would be easy to carry in your purse or backpack. Ordering a coffee to-go? Bring your own mug or thermos. The disposable cups the coffee shops use may look like paper, but they are often lined with plastic and come with plastic lids. Avoid all of the plastic by bringing your own mug!

Buy in Bulk Whenever Possible

For many people, most of our plastic waste comes from the kitchen. And a lot of it is plastic packaging for food. You can avoid much of this plastic by shopping from the bulk bins. Bulk bins (or bags as they often are in the Middle East) are a way of selling goods by weight. The product is stored in the bags and customers can measure out any amount they would like. Typically, customers are given plastic bags to fill. Refuse those and bring your bag or container to fill. Since most shops now have digital scales, it is easy to put your empty bag on the scale, hit the tare button, fill your bag, and then return it to the scale and get the weight of the goods only.

Often products sold in bulk are less expensive than those already packaged in plastic. Reuse glass jars and fill up on rice, nuts, flour, beans, and more! Find a shop near you that sells what you want in bulk and then speak with the clerk to ensure that you can bring your own bags. You'll most likely have better luck with this if you shop from smaller supermarkets and avoid the large chains. 

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