Eco tips for Dubai families

Give the planet a helping hand by following these easy environment tips

Community, Area Guides

Air dry
You know how it is REALLY hot here? Well that is great for drying clothes. Leave the tumble dryer unplugged and let nature dry your clothes for free while saving the planet some energy.

Bedtime lighting
The projector shining a carousel of cartoon animals onto the wall, the dimmed spotlighting, music players softly twinkling lullabies on a loop through the night and motion detector baby monitors – your night-time ritual uses enough energy to power a small business. Turn it all off and switch to a single low-energy light bulb for reading a story. Put that on a timer to be off after half an hour.

Daily Earth Hour
Don’t get us wrong, we think Earth Hour is fantastic. But why wait once a year to switch off? No electricity-gobbling appliances between 8pm-9pm every day. Forever. We all just saved 365 times as much power as Earth Hour. Easy.

Empower to un-power
Challenge kids to turn everything off before you go out. Make it their responsibility to turn off air-conditioning (who needs a cold house when you’re not in it?), all lights, computers and any electronic devices left in standby mode. Switch off completely and DEWA bills will be less – and you’re doing your bit as well.

Save water
Some kids would happily skip bath time altogether. That is clearly not a good idea. But when a child is old enough to bathe themselves, without splashing the contents of the bath around the room, switching to showers could save time, money and water. Saving water cuts down on energy usage, promotes environmental harmony and can save you money. Remember to also switch off taps while brushing your or their teeth.

Car share
All those cars carrying one child to school each morning are clogging up the roads and the air. Make a rota with other parents and car share children to school. Kids will get to spend time with friends, you are cutting down on congestion and pollution, but, best of all, when it is not your turn you might be able to go back to bed for a while. All in the name of saving the planet, of course!

Recycling champions
Put children in charge of recycling in your house and they will do a better job of it than you. Taking bottles or cans to one of the many recycling stations is easy, or you can use a private recycling company such as Green Truck (www.greentruck.ae) that will come and take your reusables away for you.

Farmers’ markets
Locally-grown fruit and vegetables are better for the environment. They don’t need to be flown in, packaged and treated with chemicals. Ripe Markets (www.ripeme.com) have local fruit and veg and the Dubai store sells direct to shoppers throughout the week, so switch to organic and do your bit.

Mini garden
You don’t need a lot of space to give a child a mini patch of garden to look after themselves. A single plant pot, balcony garden or window box is enough space to grow something. The Dubai Garden Centre (www.dubaigardencentre.ae) is a fun morning out amid plenty of greenery and you can pick up a few seeds, some soil and a watering can – that is all you need to get started. As well as pumping out a tiny bit more oxygen to the world, your child can learn some responsibility and to appreciate their own environment

How green are you?

The whole family is going out to the mall for the day. Before leaving, do you:
a) Turn on the air-conditioning throughout the house, so it is nice and cool when you come back tonight, and turn on a television in two rooms so your cat has voices to listen to and doesn’t feel lonely.

b) Check that lights are off, but quickly get out of the door so you can start shopping.

c) Go through your checklist of power-consuming appliances, making sure each is unplugged and that your solar-panel phone charger is pointing towards the sun.

It is Saturday night and you have all been at the beach all day. Who uses the bathroom first?
a) We all have a long bath every morning and night, so this should be no different. It seems a bit dirty lying in your own bathwater, so we don’t use the plug and keep taps and shower running throughout to keep the water level high.

b) The kids can have a bath one after the other and share water, and I will have a quick shower after they have gone to bed.

c) We shared a standing bucket bath at the beach using seawater and a seaweed scrub so no further cleanse required until next week now.

Your child tells you they’re thinking of becoming vegetarian. How do you react?
a) Take them to the nearest international fast-food chain and order a double cheeseburger and force feed the ethics out of them.

b) Try to accommodate their request and cater to the vegetarian principles. Although you will still like the occasional chicken dinner, you agree that the evidence suggesting the meat industry is responsible for much of the world’s ozone layer depletion is strong, and join them meat-free throughout the week.

c) Burst into tears and beg them to come back to your vegan ways. Daub their bedroom door with animal slogans and picket them until they stop using a leather wallet.

It is your best friend’s birthday. What gift do you buy them?
a) I hear rhino horns make lovely jewellery. That would go well with the shark fin soup and turtle stir-fry you’re making for their dinner. Yum.

b) A day out shopping together. I’ll buy lunch at a healthy café and give them a locally made card, but won’t go to extremes and get them an actual gift.

c) I don’t believe in presents. I will make a donation in their name to a little-known charity I support that protects the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. I will also give them a card made from recycled toilet paper.

Unlimited money or a superpower of your choice?
a) Money. I’d buy a private jet and fly to pick up snacks any time I wanted them, build a zoo in my back garden and have a fleet of sports cars to drive around in.

b) The ability to fly. Swooping among the birds and looking down on the city below would be a magical experience and would not harm the environment.

c) The power to talk to the animals. I’d ask them if there was any way they could forgive the human race and work with them to clean up the mess my fellow humans have made.

Mostly As
If it were up to you, we would have about 20 years left before total, global apocalypse. Climate change denial is one thing, but you seem intent on murdering the planet as quickly as possible.

Mostly Bs
You’re doing your best and realise that one person can make a difference. Don’t beat yourself up about the occasional slip-up, but try just a little harder and you’re doing great.

Mostly Cs
Are you a woodland sprite? You care for the planet more than your own hygiene. The way you live is admirable, but you can sometimes be a bit intense.

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