How to get started? Part 1- To Reduce

When we don’t have the time to take care of our health, to spend quality time with our children, do some exercise and on top of all, complete  the many pending tasks that are of high priority, how can we even think of recycling? I don’t have the recyclable bins installed at home nor does anyone going to come home to collect those things, all I can do is to throw them away at the garbage chute and walk away with a little guilt and forget it after sometime.

It is time we get back to what we learnt at school, about the three R’s of recycling.


Reduce! Yes, reduce your consumption. First things first, let us reduce our consumption on buying things on an impulse.  We are only fooling ourselves by buying things in such large quantities thinking that we are saving on our expenses. But we actually don’t. Buying large quantities doesn’t mean you are getting the value for money. Most of the times the ‘buy one, get one free’ kind of offers will make you purchase more than what you actually need. Buying in large quantities also makes you use more than what you would normally do, and would also result in unnecessary wastage (from my personal experience). Make sure you have your shopping list ready with you and don’t step out to the store hungry as it is going to make you shed more money than you actually would! You tend to lose your cognizance when you walk past that store flashing a big, red sign about a sale going on and you will eventually lose a few hundred dirhams from your wallet.

The next step is to begin cutting down your consumption on an every day basis. We know water is scarce especially in this part of the world where we use cloud seeding to tap the water from the sky. Okay, we have the sea that is never going to dry up and we have the world’s largest desalination plants in Jebel Ali, so why not use up as much as we can? The per capita water usage of UAE is an astounding 550 litres per person per day, as compared to a global national average of 250 liters per person each day (Source). Here are some tips from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) on water and electricity conservation at home:

• The UAE is the world’s third largest per capita water consumer after the U.S. and Canada.
• Dubai’s electricity and power demand will double by 2015.
• In the UAE, the cost of buying one litre of petrol and one litre of water is almost the same.


The peak time for electricity and water load in the UAE is from 1 pm to 5 pm, especially in the summer months (June-September). To help us save energy during those hours and not put a burden on the load, try and delay tasks until after 5 pm or get them done before 1 pm, especially during the summer months. Summer sees the highest number of accidents as well, so try and not run too many devices around your house simultaneously

• Avoid taking long showers. Shortening your shower by a minute or 2 can save you up to 150 gallons a month.

• You can save more than 100 gallons a week if you close the water while you shave. By turning off the water when you brush your teeth, you can save approximately 3 gallons of water! Filling a cup to rinse your mouth saves about 4 gallons.

• When washing dishes by hand, use the least amount of washing liquid possible. This reduces water needed for rinsing. – If you have an automatic dishwasher, operate it only when it is fully loaded. If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing your dishes before you put them in the washer. Newer models clean more thoroughly.

• Don’t let the tap run when you are cleaning your fruits or vegetables. Fill a pan or half the sink with water and
use it for rinsing. After you’re done, don’t throw the water down the drain; use it to water your plants.

• When buying a fridge or freezer, buy one that is EnergyStar® rated, or has the best energy rating. Chest freezers are usually less costly and more energy efficient than up-right freezers, as they have manual defrost.

• When doing your laundry, try and operate the washing machine only when you are doing full loads. Set the water level to the appropriate size of load you are using.

• When buying a washing machine, select a front-load model.

• Make sure all your house windows and doors are properly shut when air conditioning is on; this will make
the air conditioners more energy-efficient.

• Set your thermostats to 24C in the summer, and make sure you set it on automatic mode, so that it shuts and restarts at intervals. Don’t set it at a colder setting than normal; it can cause excessive cooling and higher energy bills. The less difference between the outdoor and indoor temperatures the lower your cooling bill will be.

• Unplug personal computers, electronic devices and chargers when they aren’t in use; most electronics use electricity even when switched off. It is estimated that in the average home, 40% of all electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the devices are turned off.

• When buying a monitor, consider getting an L.C.D screen instead of the average cathode ray tube monitor. L.C.D.’s are 66% more energy efficient than C.R.T.’s

• Contrary to some misconceptions, switching off a computer actually extends its lifetime. Leaving a computer
on constantly the whole year can cost more than 1,000 KWh/y, which is almost equivalent to the total electricity consumption of a high-efficiency household.

• Use one large multi-socket power strip to plug your computer, monitor, speakers, scanner, modem, and printer. Switch it off after you are done using your computer. It is a practical way to saving money and electricity

These little things can not only make you save  a lot on your bills, but also make a big difference on our environment. The bottom line is, before you consume anything, be it a home-cooked food or ordering something at a restaurant or buying a toy for your child, think about the effort that has gone inside making the product. Reduce your consumption, for the sake of this planet!


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