Make UAE cleaner and greener

Emirates Environmental Group’s annual Clean Up UAE to get under way

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More than 27,000 volunteers are expected to step up to take part in this year’s Clean Up UAE campaign, helping to collect litter and preserve the natural landscape at more than 110 sites across all seven emirates. Alongside the activities that involve actually cleaning up the country, there are education programmes, workshops, competitions, exhibitions and much more going on in neighbouring emirates – there are more than 60 happening in Sharjah alone.

The main event in Dubai is the hands-on clean-up on Wednesday December 12, taking place in the Nad Al Sheba area. Many of Dubai’s beautiful deserts and suburban areas are battling a much bigger litter problem than most of the developed city areas, making this a pertinent choice of venue.

While the mid-week timing means those with full-time jobs may not be able to attend, organiser Emirates Environmental Group aims to overcome this by looking specifically to companies this year, as well as families, schools and government agencies, to pitch in and ‘rally as many participants as possible’. Many of the corporate sponsors, such as Commercial Bank of Dubai and fast-food chain McDonald’s, will be setting an example and sending staff out to the front line on the day.

But it’s about more than just a few hours spent litter-picking: the event aims to instil in people the importance of small, continuous steps that can be made on a daily basis to preserve the environment. One of the primary objectives of the campaign is to get the country’s residents thinking more seriously about the importance of recycling, and to hopefully create a culture of recycling in the community. ‘We must take into consideration that the majority of discarded waste ends up in landfill,’ EEG chairwoman Habiba Al Mar’ashi recently explained in a speech to launch the project. ‘Landfills, if not efficiently maintained, can turn into hazardous environmental pollutants, due to leakage, and can have a devastating impact on our water supply, air quality and our fragile ecosystems.’

It’s an issue that seems to be quietly gaining ground: you may have noticed that more recycling bins are appearing across the emirate, and not just in schools and car parks. Some malls, such as Dubai’s Marina Mall, have now installed small bins for segregating rubbish next to existing bins outside shops and in walkways.

So what will Dubai’s Clean Up event entail? Volunteers will be given T-shirts, caps, gloves and refreshments, as well as EEG bags (biodegradable, naturally) that they can use to collect discarded rubbish. Once everything has been collected from the country’s clean-up sites, it will be weighed. At last year’s event, volunteers collected 97 tonnes of rubbish; this year they’re aiming for more than 100.

If you’re keen to sign up your company, or just yourself, to help with the event in Nad Al Sheba, be sure to register with the EEG in advance by email – if organisers don’t know how many people to expect, they won’t be able to prepare to use their resources (ie you) in the most effective way. Once you’re registered, you’ll receive an email detailing all the activities taking place across the UAE as they are confirmed, which means you can register an interest for other events should you wish. What are you waiting for? Sign up to keep this country beautiful.
Dhs25 (individual), Dhs10 (students aged 10 to 18). 8am-noon, Wednesday December 12. Nad Al Sheba, eeg@emirates.net.ae (04 344 8622).

Clean-ups in numbers

4,500 The number of volunteers who took part in the first Clean Up operation in the UAE in 2002.

27,136 The number of participants who took part in 2011’s events across the country.

97 The amount of waste, in tonnes, collected across all of last year’s sites.

6 The number of sites in Dubai cleaned in 2002.

110 The number of sites cleaned in 2011.

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