1- Stop using plastic bags to shop
Plastic bags are a relatively cheap product. We use and abuse them but the moment one flies away, we don’t even blink, not realizing that they end up in the oceans and deserts and are usually ingested by innocent animals. I could go on and on about whether they’re biodegradable or not and how our landfills are dotted with them but honestly we all know that plastic bags are a pain by all means. We all know it yet we chose our own temporary convenience over everything else that matters.
2- Buy more local produce (and have less waste)
The closer it’s farmed, the less time and energy it takes to reach you and it’s kinder to your wallet and the environment. It’s also important to note that produce is most likely picked before it ripens or else it’ll spoil on it’s way to you. Eating local is means less pollution and more nutrients.
3- Stop buying plastic bottles
I remembered a day in the desert when all of my friends went back to the city and I stayed. I went on a short hike and guess what I found? Hundreds of plastic water bottles! They’re also lightweight so they get picked up by the wind easily and settle in groups in remote areas. I remember one bottle specifically because it looked new but I knew that’s its been there for a long long time because the same company changed the design a while ago.
4- and when you do, recycle, if possible!
When I started moving towards a greener lifestyle, I realized that most products and packaging cannot be recycled in Egypt, at least for the time-being. The second best option for me was to avoid buying certain things all together. But what I’ve been learning is what ever you want will be created, just be sure to take all necessary action towards it. For me, this was avoiding certain products. For someone else, they just start a recycling company.
5- Park your car and take public transport. Or even better, cycle or walk!
I’m not asking you to ditch your car completely, although feel free to do it if you can. I personally find it hard to take any kind of transport other than that if I’m spending the day out and will need my laptop and do groceries and all that but what about the days when you’re lighter? I know public transport is a nightmare in Egypt simply because it isn’t available everywhere, but if you try hard enough you will definitely find a way to cut things short and well, using your car one or two times less every week could help us all. Many of us have a bicycle that’s gathering dust somewhere and most of us have a pair of healthy legs so we might as well use them! Besides, it’s getting colder so excess sweating isn’t a problem anymore!
6- Cut back on your use of toilet and kitchen paper.
Reusable kitchen towels are the way to go. Enough said!
7- Buy nuts and grains in bulk! Go with your own containers if you can!
I did the experiment so you don’t have to. I tried taking my own jars, I realized it’s a hassle because things get a bit two heavy. Cotton bags though.. these are a game changer for me. Just ask them to weigh the bag and then reset the scale to zero and start filling up! It takes them a couple of times to get used to this but eventually they get to know you and we all know how everything is easier in Cairo when “you know someone.”
8- Use water efficiently!
Do you really have to eat that sandwich on a plate? Is washing the mug before refilling it with tea necessary?
Top tip: keep a glass of water with a spoon or two near your tea/coffee making area and just reuse the spoon for stirring.
9- Don’t over cook!
Overcooking is a typical habit among the people of the Mediterranean. Yeah, you look all so generous but over doing anything just ruins all your efforts. Over cooking means over consumption of food and more that usually goes to waste and packaging that goes to landfills.
10- Limit your use of electricity! We all have that one thing that we abuse, be it your TV or AC. Some of us scroll up and down facebook all day and we end up charging our phones 2-3 times. Some of us always, no matter what, forget the lights on. Others will re-boil the water in the kettle again and again just because they forget that it was on. Who else leaves the TV on while doing other things just to feel the company?
We overdo so many things just because we can afford them now. What we don’t know is that our children won’t be able to afford them later. We confuse generosity with exaggeration and consumerism.
I wrote this is an introduction to how we are ruining our cities and environments ourselves everyday. I do believe that the way we live now will shape the future and our daily habits have a bigger impact than that once a year environmental crisis accident.
I will definitely be following up with more elaborate articles on each of the mentioned topics so be sure to check back in!