Water and climate change are inextricably linked.
Words by Natalie Banks, Founder and Director, Azraq
World Water Day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, focuses on the importance of freshwater, and specifically how water and climate change are inextricably linked. This global calendar day was launched as a campaign to educate, inspire and drive action for change, showing how sustainable practices will reduce floods, droughts, scarcity and pollution, and will help fight climate change itself.
No doubt many times in your life you will have been confronted with the terms “global warming”, “climate change”, “ozone depletion”, and a host of others that point to the deterioration of the earth’s natural environment. With that, you are likely to have also become privy to the research and predictions around the devastating impact environmental degradation subsequently has on the lives of human beings and animals, painting a bleak future for future generations. In response to this, the global noise around sustainable living has increased in recent years and is a movement that sees us rethinking and readjusting our practices and habits as both individuals and organisations, to consume as few non-renewable natural resources as possible and minimise our carbon footprint and environmental impact. This type of living involves leaving the earth relatively untouched by our actions; in other words – how we received it, is how we should leave it (or in a better state where possible).
At Azraq, our mission is to strive for a cleaner, healthier ecosystem by putting an end to the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the oceans. 70% of our planet’s surface is covered in water and this massive body contains diverse life forms, including marine plants which supply about 50% of the oxygen we breathe in, as well as for food and it’s many other uses. This goes to show that all living things on earth rely heavily on the oceans for sustenance and, by using water more efficiently, we will ultimately reduce greenhouse gases. And we cannot afford to wait. Companies such as ourselves at Azraq must put water at the heart of action plans as everyone within our community has a role to play. In our daily lives, there are surprisingly easy steps we can all take to address climate change. Here are four easy changes to get you started on the path to more sustainable living:
Implementing small changes in the household and our daily lifestyles are what truly make a big difference. Think simple tactics such as using energy-saving light bulbs or adding a programmable thermostat for efficient heating and cooling, each of which can go a long way in reducing your ecological footprint. Another opportunity to go green is to drive green, i.e. walking more, biking, carpools or using public transport systems which can decrease carbon emissions. Remember, water and climate change are inextricably linked.
Say no to plastics
More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally each year, with plastic packaging (single-use material designed for immediate disposal) making up 50% of plastic waste. Thousands of marine animals such as fish, seabirds, sea turtles and other water mammals are killed daily due to either ingesting plastic or becoming entangled. Fight for our oceans by opting for reusable grocery bags and ditching single-use straws, bags, bottles, to help cut back on plastic pollution.
Become a Conscious Shopper – Educate yourself
Shockingly, our clothes are one of the largest sources of primary microplastics, a term that refers to plastic particles that measure less than five millimetres, which are detrimental to our oceans. When we wash synthetic clothing, such as items made from acrylic, nylon and polyester, microfibres are released into waterways. So next time you go shopping be considerate when purchasing and educate yourself as it is important to understand where your clothes come from and how they are made. But watch out there are hidden traps! Many designers have unfortunately claimed to be sustainable but the reality is their clothing is made from recycled plastic. This is classic green-washing and so many people are buying into this, thinking it is a great solution to marine debris, when in fact it is causing greater issues for our oceans because of the microplastics. To combat microplastics, it is also worth knowing that there are filters that can collect microfibres that you can install on washing machines and Guppyfriend Washbags and Cora Balls that offer a circular solution to the issue of ocean conservation.
Eat better and cleaner
Approximately 1.3 tonnes of edible food is wasted annually, which means the natural resources that went into making the food are also effectively wasted. One way to prevent food wastage is to engage in planned grocery shopping; that is, buy only what you need and think of creative ways to consume what you purchase. Also, as difficult as it may sound, cutting down on meat consumption can also have a drastically positive impact. The meat industry is among the top most environmentally damaging industries, responsible for vast levels of pollution, water use, habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions.
The rabbit hole of sustainability and inciting meaningful is not one easily grappled with. Yet, one thing is clear, as individuals, we must make substantial daily changes to ensure the preservation of our water resources. The future of this planet does not lie solely in one person’s hands, but with all – corporations and consumers alike. We have to take responsibility for our part in the depletion of our oceans and take measures to try and protect it.
Reduce wastewater usage and mind what you but down the drain.
There are so many ways to reduce wastewater usage and some of the easiest ways to do this at home include turning off the tap when you brush your teeth. Can you believe this can save six litres of water per minute! This also nicely leads on to taking a shorter shower and always ensuring you put on full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher. Furthermore, you can make simple changes such as placing a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. You can get one of these from your water provider. Lastly, one more top tip – invest in water-efficient goods when you need to replace household products. You can now get water-efficient showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many other water-saving products. And let’s not forget to be mindful of what we put down the drain! Use eco-friendly cleaning products. The cleaning products you use to clean your home end up down the drain which will enter and contaminate waterways and end up in the oceans. You can purchase environmentally cleaning products that don’t contain harmful chemicals to help protect the oceans. You can also opt to use natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and citrus fruit like lemons and oranges for a natural way to clean your home.
Founded by Natalie Banks, Azraq is a volunteer-run not-for-profit entity in the UAE. Azraq focuses on the protection, defence and conservation of marine life, as well as enables partnerships to be formed with government and private entities and individuals for the good of the UAE and its marine environment. Born in 2018, the foundation’s mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect the marine ecosystem and species. The organization achieves its goals by educating through awareness programs and motivating the community. The word “Azraq” gives credence to the nation’s mother tongue, translated from Arabic to English as “blue”, defining the marine environment that the not-for-profit serves to conserve and protect.