Like everything, it is easier to make changes in your life when you have the support of your friends. Be it a diet, going to the dreaded gym, getting over a bad relationship… or going zero waste.
When we moved to the UAE, I was struggling with keeping up our routines that we had implemented in New Zealand to help us reduce our waste. It just didn’t seem possible here. I couldn’t find the shops or the items I needed to work towards a Plastic-Fee-Life. Recycling doesn’t exist and composting is not as straight forward when you live in a tiny apartment in a concrete jungle. In other countries, there are businesses and apps that make this kind of life a lot easier. You can buy in bulk, organic, and from markets or farmers directly. There are a multitude of second hand shops and there are community movements that make the change easier. But at first, especially in places where you don’t have this kind of support, it may seem impossible to go zero waste. It is a change that seemingly goes against all the convenience of the life we are all used to. But it doesnt have to be that difficult.
I finally decided to reach out to other people in my community who may be facing the same issue, and may already have some answers to my questions. I started the Zero Waste UAE Facebook group in the hope that others who are on the same quest for solutions might find my group. And they did. And it is making the seemingly-impossible a lot easier.
At this time the Facebook group has 52 members. We contribute what we know, tips and tricks, the location of shops and markets and farms where you can buy in bulk and without packaging. It is so motivating to see that there are so many others on the same path, and who want to share their knowledge with the wider community to create a change that goes beyond their own household. The moral of the story is, reach out to your friends and your community, and share ideas and options in the area that will help you implement the changes you want to make. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what’s possible.
A huge thank you to everyone contributing to the Facebook page, and please spread the word. I hope more people will join over time and allow us to help each other, to make this change easier and easier.
Check out the blog of one of the Facebook group’s members, Desert and Dates, who is going on a Zero Waste challenge this December. She has some fantastic insight about what is available in the area. Just remember: it is OK to not adopt all the changes that others make, and to not go completely zero waste in the space of a few days. Use other people’s experiences and suggestions as an inspiration of what could work for you. Every little change towards a zero waste and plastic-free life goes a long way.
Thank you for being part of our journey.