A group of HCT-Khalifa City Women’s Campus (KCW) students, enrolled in Ecology and Sustainability courses, put a green spin on the campus’s Innovation Week activities by creating their own environmental awareness event.
Bt collecting data from their own homes and the college, the students were able to draw the attention of the college community to the impact of plastic pollution in the UAE.
“We have decided to dress all in plastics to draw the attention of the college community towards the plastic waste. These are approximately 75 plastic bags that I have on. I have collected them in only one week. If everyone produced the same amount, we will end up with billions of plastic bags a year in the UAE,” said Sarah Khaiid.
“We have learned in the Ecology course that plastics are non-biodegradable. This means they remain in the environment for a very long time … up to hundreds of years in many cases. They end up in the oceans or buried in landfills where they release toxins into the soil and ground water. Hundreds of millions of marine and land animals are killed every year as a result of plastics accumulating in their stomach. In the UAE, fifty per cent of camel deaths result from plastics,” Sarah added.
Students Fatima Sultan and Maitha Abdulrahman said: “We are trying to help the college community to reduce their plastic waste by replacing the plastic bags with fabric bags that can be re-used for a long time. Also, people need to dispose of their waste in the right place where it can be recycled.”
Amna Alsubousi highlighted the UAE’s water challenges, presenting her idea to reduce the amount of water used in toilets. “As part of our ‘Introduction to Sustainability’ course, we have conducted a water audit at home and on campus. We learned that the sustainability of water in the UAE should be a pressing priority. We live in an arid zone where the natural sources of fresh water are scarce. We have to desalinate sea water to meet the growing demand for water in both domestic and commercial sectors. Desalination is not a sustainable process since it is expensive, energy intensive and is causing significant damage to the marine environment,” Amna said.
“In Abu Dhabi we are overconsuming this precious water. The current rate of consumption is 550 litres per capita per day, which is double the world average. We have collected data on our water use at home and found out that approximately 25% of the water that is coming to our home is wasted in the flush! We have thought of a simple idea to reduce this. We will place a 1.5L bottle full of sand in our flushing system. Every time we flush, we save a litre and half of our water. By the end of the year, households can save millions of litres of precious clean water in this area alone,” she added.
Another group of students showed some solutions to clean their cars with a minimal amount of water. Sara Fahad pointed out that her family used to wash their cars using a hose. She measured the flow of water from the hose in one minute and counted the time of each car wash to measure the amount of water wasted. She arrived at the figure of 570 litres per one wash!
Sarah and Ruwaida Mohsen showed some tips to clean cars with a bucket and sponge using some cleaning products that save a significant amount of water each time.
Wadeema and Jamila presented marvellous art crafts made out of used newspapers and explained how paper production is leading to the destruction of natural forests and causing global warming. They also showed that the production of one A4 sheet of paper requires 10 litres of water. They encouraged other students to try to use technology and avoid printing as much as possible.