Wed, 22 April 2020
Today is Earth Day and, with all that’s going on, it’s clear our precious home planet needs all the help it can get – though necessary restrictions on human activity due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic have led to unprecedented improvements in pollution levels.
If you want to keep that feel-good going, here are a few easy changes you can make to your everyday life that can make a huge difference.
OK, this is an obvious one but are you recycling ‘properly’? It certainly feels good to dump your plastic bottles into a recycling bin… but, wait a minute. Are they clean and have the lids and labels been removed? Are you sure the plastic you’re putting in the bin is actually recyclable in our country? On this score, be aware, some plastics that bear the recycling symbol cannot actually be recycled here. Adding stuff to the bins that’s dirty (for example unwashed yoghurt cartons) or not recyclable here (such as the black containers so much processed meat comes in) can actually do more harm than good causing contamination that makes the sorting process more difficult at best, impossible at worst.
When we talk about recycling, the ubiquitous plastic bottle is the first thing that comes to mind. After all, according to ecomena.org, in affluent GCC nations, plastic waste composition in municipal solid waste is around 12-16 per cent! But, of course, recycling isn’t just about plastics. Paper, cardboard, cans and other metals and even household appliances can all be reused. Find out more about good recycling practice @ ebincompany.com which can also arrange recycling collections and informative workshops on compounds and for groups.
Want to do your bit? Speak to your compound or building management about getting some bins to make recycling easier for you and your neighbours.
Take a long, hard look at all the ‘stuff’ in your home. How much of it do you really need? Do you have a garage or storeroom full of things you “might need one day”? Are you, like most of us, guilty of buying extra “just in case”? Were you shocked, on your last home move, to discover just how much unnecessary, but potentially useful (to someone else), stuff you actually had? Well, join the club. You’re certainly not alone! How about setting yourself a challenge? Maybe pledge not to buy new clothes for a set period – check out Lana’s story here https://womanthismonth.com/one-year-no-gear/ yes, she really did go for a year without buying new clothes!
You could also implement a one-in-one-out rule. If you really do need to buy something, from new towels to household items like cups, only do so when you’ve got rid of something you already have. And, of course, don’t chuck the old ones in the trash. Think charity shops or other organisations that can make use of your unwanted items. Even if you think they’re not in good enough condition to be of use to someone else, keep your eye on social media, there are often artists and playgroups looking for discarded items for craft projects.
It’s often said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or something along those lines. So, next time you decide you really do need something new for your home, consider going for second hand. Social media sites like https://web.facebook.com/groups/mumsinbhclassifieds/ are a rich resource and, with the often transitory nature of Bahrain’s expat population, there is always something new to discover. There are few things more satisfying that giving an unwanted piece of furniture a new look with a good clean or a lick of paint – this applies to the things you already have too – and the finished project will result in something new and unique to you. There are loads of online tutorial spaces, such as diynetwork.com, to get you started and right now, and for the foreseeable future, we all have some extra time on our hands. So, what’s stopping you?
Kick Out the Chemicals
From stains on the rug to mattresses that need a little freshening, you can be guaranteed that if you think you need it in your home, your local store will have at least a dozen products to help. But from bug spray to cleaning products, there are loads of more environment-friendly options. Check out these tips from Woman This Month https://womanthismonth.com/bahrain-homes-green-spring-clean/
You can also do away with laundry detergent with eco balls. Find out what we’re talking about here, but please excuse the guy’s really annoying voice! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__xpBSqj0NM
And, once the shops reopen, pay a visit to Chef & The Whale on Budaiya Highway to find dish scourers made from coconut husk and other eco-friendly cleaning products.
Bag It, Don’t Bin It
You can’t have failed to notice the proliferation of plastic bags across the island – some joke that they are almost the national flower! And, while the government has pledged a ban and environmental groups do their best to clean up (which, by the way, also applies to the masks and gloves we are all currently using), there can be absolutely no doubt that plastic bags are an unsightly and unhealthy blight on the landscape. The answer to this one is simple – DON’T USE THEM. Many of us are old enough to remember the days when our mums didn’t leave the house without some sort of fabric shopping bag and, though it takes a bit of remembering and getting used to, there’s no reason we can’t get back into that habit. Stick a funky fold-up bag in your handbag or briefcase and keep your stock of Bags for Life in the car, so you’re never caught short. OK, so that’s the ideal but if you do find yourself leaving the supermarket with a bunch of plastic bags, make sure you at least re-use them – from bin liners to dog poo bags or cat litter tray liners (both of which can be found in biodegradable forms), make sure you don’t just bin them after one use.
So, there you have it. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by climate change and carbon footprint reports and think there’s nothing we can do about it. But it’s also really easy to make small changes that, if we all adopt them, will make a BIG difference.
Happy Earth Day!