Dubai residents 'don't care' about going green



Has the novelty for protecting Mother Earth worn off after the first hour itself? A survey conducted by Emirates Business certainly seems to point in that direction, with 78 of 100 people saying they had no interest in doing something special on Tuesday’s Earth Day.

Now in its 39th year, Earth Day has seen 184 countries joining this fight to protect the environment and sustain the Earth’s resources for future generations.

But after last month’s Earth Hour, where companies and residents switched off all non-essential power, a 24-hour stand seems too much to ask.

Forty-year-old Mehram Khalid, a Dubai-resident says: “I turned off my television for Earth Hour because my daughter said so, but I don’t think I need to take any further stand on Earth Day.”

The accountant recycles his paper and he feels this single act sustains the family’s efforts for the year.

While the Khalid family is on one end of the spectrum, there are others, like the Mehras, who are eagerly looking forward to April 22 to not only do their part for the environment, but also to teach a valuable lesson to their two children.

Media executive Prakash Mehra says: “Before my children leave for school, all of us will plant a tree in our back garden. And when they return home, rather than watching the TV, we’ll take the children to the park.”

However, while for many of the city’s residents it will be business as usual, it’s the environmental groups and corporations in Dubai that will be actively showing their love for the planet.

The front-runner of course is the Emirates Environmental Group, which has organised the eighth Interschool Public Speaking Competition on Tuesday. EEG’s Chairperson, Habiba Al Marashi told Emirates Business: “The key to protecting the environment is through education, and for the last eight years, EEG has been actively teaching young children about the dangers of ignoring their social responsibilities. We are secure in our knowledge that the Earth’s future is cared for; we just have to save it from the current generation.”

Another company to lend its name to Earth Day is The Fairmont Dubai, which will plant 21 trees on the hotel grounds and at their residential complex in Al Quoz.

Alka Patel, Public Relations Manager for the hotel says: “Dubai’s participation in Earth Hour on March 29 was a landmark event and shows how the green initiative has taken hold. With Earth Day, as a city we are taking it forward.”

Joining the environmental campaign is Lexmark International, the manufacturers of printing solutions. Declaring April as Earth month, the company has taken a stand to contribute to the Rainforest Foundation UK by promoting environmental responsibility and helping businesses print less.

“Paper waste has a dramatic impact on the environment – and naturally, our industry must shoulder some of this responsibility,” said Francois Feuillet, General Manager of Lexmark Middle East in a statement. “We’re committed to helping the environment through people, products and promoting responsible printing.”

Corporate social responsibility is catching on with even the real estate sector getting involved thanks to the Green Building Initiative and the formation of the Emirates Green Building Council. The latest member  is ETA Star Properties, which is launching a green campaign this month.

Shyam Sunder, general manager, marketing, ETA said: “Corporations have a large role to play, as they have access to both their own employees and funds. An organisation-backed initiative works best.”

But are all these actions enough to save our planet? Al Marashi thinks so: “We have started crawling towards a sustainable future. But for things to change, we need to start running to ensure our children have a planet they can call home.”


The origins

In the spring of 1969, the United States had the Vietnam War on its mind, but the UN was buckling under rising environmental concerns. US Senator Gaylord Nelson realised the world needed a wake-up call, and in September of the same year, he proposed a US-wide demonstration on the environment to thrust the subject into the limelight.

Things came to a head on April 22, 1970 when nearly 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy and a sustainable environment.

The American public had spoken and the world stopped to listen. By 1990, over 200 million people in 141 countries had joined the fight, making April 22 officially Earth Day.

With the dawn of the new millennium, that figure grew to 184 countries trying every means possible to create awareness – including using a talking drum in Gabon, Africa.

Earth Day 2007 was one of the largest to date, with one billion people participating in activities across the planet.

what can you do for Earth day?


Organise a clean-up drive Rally the troops and get your friends involved in cleaning up the local beach or park. And remember to recycle.

Car pool Sharing a ride two days a week will reduce your emissions by 720kg a year. So on Tuesday, offer to carpool with your colleagues.

Plant a tree Head down to your local nursery and pick up a tree sapling that you can plant in your back garden or in the neighbourhood.

Say no to plastic Plastic bags don’t break down for hundreds of years. Forget the plastic on Tuesday and pack a cloth bag for your groceries.
Recycle It’s not difficult. Separate cans and newspapers and head to a recycling bin near you. Call EEG on 04 344 8622 for locations.