Dubai: Did your mother store sewing kits in biscuit tins too? How UAE mums promoted sustainability over the years

With the 'What My Mother Taught Me' campaign, social media users are being asked to share the sustainable practices passed down by their mothers using


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 3:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 3:36 PM

Growing up, did you ever see a biscuit tin that was turned into a sewing box or haberdashery storage? Or an ice cream spoon that was re-used in the spice rack? Mothers have been promoting sustainability at home for generations, and this is being celebrated in a sweet social media campaign by the team of Year of Sustainability (YoS).

With the What My Mother Taught Me campaign, social media users are being asked to share the sustainable practices passed down by their mothers using the #MomKnowsBest hashtag. “Our mothers taught us how to reduce, reuse and recycle before it was a catchy slogan,” said Mariam Almeraikhi, Strategic Digital Manager, Year of Sustainability.

Shared experiences

In a story shared on their social media channels, YoS tells the story of Kaltham Al Ali, whose grandmother would buy her popsicles only if she agreed to return the used sticks. Her grandmother would then recycle the sticks to make the front of her face veil burqa.

According to Mariam, the purpose of this campaign was to highlight shared experiences. "The concept of sustainable behaviours has been deeply rooted in how our ancestors lived by responsibly consuming the resources available to them,” she said. “Our purpose is to find ways for sustainability to be relatable to every individual who calls the UAE home. We all have shared experiences regardless of our diverse cultural backgrounds and upbringing. What my mother taught me or #MomKnowsBest was something we definitely all shared in common, starting with repurposed containers.”

She shared her own experience of how her mother would repurpose items. “My mother would reuse Quality Street tin containers for her new Burqas. I remember when my mother bought me a wooden box (piggy bank), she used to give me a daily allowance for school and when I would return, I would put the remaining dirham coins in this box. Growing up, I also observed my mom’s.

First source of love

Mariam says that as nurturers and primary caregivers, mothers’ actions have a lasting impact on people. “Our mothers are our first source of love, and so we have learned to love the things we do from their unconditional love,” she said. “When we remember that sustainability is actually part of who we are, it makes it easier for us to go back to these behaviours rather than thinking about sustainability as a “new” behaviour we need to introduce to our lives.”

In another story shared online, Fatima Sayed Sharaf Saeed shared how her grandmother would save up scraps from stitching clothes for the family and use it to design pockets, collars and cuffs for clothes. Pieces of remaining fabric would be combined and converted into jewellery and coin pouches that would be vibrant and colourful.

The team at YoS has been promoting sustainable practices and life choices in the lead-up to COP28, which will take place in Dubai later this year. Earlier this month, the team launched a sustainability guide to promote responsible consumption among UAE residents. It offered insights, recommendations and practical tips from experts in slow fashion, food waste and plant-based diets.


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