It’s that time of the year when we make promises to ourselves: Quitting bad habits, losing weight, learning to play guitar–that sort of thing.
In that spirit, Al-Masry Al-Youm offers the our own list of Green Resolutions, simple ways we can make 2010 a little more environmentally friendly.
· Liberate ourselves from bottled water: Admittedly, the tap water in Cairo isn’t great. But in addition to the costs of constantly buying bottled water, the sheer amount of excess plastic garbage generated by the bottled water industry is a huge burden on a country already struggling with a serious garbage problem. If drinking the tap water isn’t an option, there are still ways to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away. Consider installing an office-style water dispenser in your home. The companies that supply them will deliver those big replacement water bottles to your home, and it will probably end up costing a lot less than the same amount of water consumed one liter bottle at a time. Other options include filtering your own tap water at home, either by installing a filtration system or buying a filtration pitcher, then pouring the filtered water into glass bottles in your refrigerator.
· Cook more: Like reducing your consumption of bottled water, this will end up saving an unexpected bundle, in addition to lightening your environmental impact. Cairo is one of the all-time great cities for getting food (or anything else) delivered right to your door. But those orders often generate an amazing amount of trash, including the dreaded Styrofoam containers.
· Walk more: How many times have we had a 15-minute walk to somewhere, then just gotten lazy and hailed a cab? We resolve to put on some comfortable shoes and start walking. Depending on the traffic that day, we might just arrive before the taxi would anyway.
· Take public transportation: Nobody is suggesting that you squeeze yourself onto one of the local public buses, but we don’t need to rely on taxis either. Cairo does possess a variety of manageable public transportation options once you learn the system. We resolve to get to know the microbus routes in our neighborhoods. They run on set routes, cost very little and you can always find one. We also resolve to give the Metro a chance. It’s clean, well-run, and generally efficient. And there are female-only cars, so no worries about getting groped.
· Become a littering vigilante: No longer will we stand by and shake our heads when someone throws their cigarette box or candy wrapper in the street. From now on, we will politely object, be reasonable and shame people into caring. Try not to start any fights, but don’t be afraid to point out that we all share this space and we’re all responsible for its condition. It will probably take a full generation of indoctrination to break Cairenes of their littering habit, but we have to start somewhere.
· Plant something: Cairo is, in general, starved for oxygen. We resolve to help even-out that imbalance by spreading greenery around us. If there’s a spare patch of grass near your home, buy a tree and plant it! Turn your balcony into a jungle. There are plant nurseries all along the Nile, and we need all the oxygen-generating flora we can get.
· Be aware of how much we consume: Are we throwing away a full trash bag every day or two? Do we leave the water running while shaving or brushing our teeth? Little things add up. If you keep the consumption-meter running in your head as you go about your daily routine, small ways to cut down will present themselves.
· No more plastic bags: It’s amazing how many plastic bags the average Cairo household manages to accumulate. We resolve to acquire our own reusable paper or cloth bag and take that with us to the grocery store. And yes, people will look at us funny, but that just offers the chance to explain ourselves and spread the word.
· Eat less meat: This will be a tough one for some of us. But the meat industry is one of the main producers of methane gas which is one of the green house gases leading to global warming.
· Separate organic from non-organic waste: Doing so makes it easier for the the organic waste to be composted. Your zabaal will probably thank you.
We now open the floor to our readers. Anybody with further green resolutions to suggest, please add them in the comments section below.
And Happy New Year!