KT for Good: Drop single-use plastic today

KT for Good: Drop single-use plastic today

In the 10th part of our series, we're featuring a social enterprise that has been creating ripples of change towards a plastic-free world.



By Saman Haziq

Published: Mon 25 Mar 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Mar 2019, 7:04 PM

The ugly truth about plastics is everywhere. Khaleej Times' latest 'KT For Good' campaign explores why we need to heed what eco-warriors have been telling us all along: Say no to plastic. In the 10th part of our series, we're featuring a social enterprise that has been creating ripples of change towards a plastic-free world.
Plastic is a durable material that could survive years of wear and tear - and yet here we are, using it every day and throwing it away after just a single use.
We all get to choose how we produce and consume products, shouldn't we be responsible enough to opt for the sustainable options?
This is the realisation that prompted UAE expat Tatiana Antonelli Abella to set up her own social enterprise, Goumbook, which has been promoting sustainability and green living among local communities since its launch in 2009.
Italian national Tatiana, who first came to the UAE in 2005, said she has always been passionate about sustainability, and so organising Goumbook - one of the oldest social enterprises in the UAE - was an easy decision to make.
Today, the organisation manages different projects such as Sustainable Mena, a business directory dedicated to promote sustainable products and services in the region; the Give-a-Ghaf tree-planting programme, the only tree planting initiative in the GCC with over 75,000 seeds planted in the past nine years; and the 'Drop It - Rethink Plastic' campaign that asks businesses and individuals to stop using single-use plastic.
Goumbook, Tatiana said, refers to the idea of standing up for a green ideal and uniting towards a better world - sharing facts, ideas and advice on how to live a more responsible life. As the founder and managing director of the social enterprise, Tatiana - together with her team - initiates and develops campaigns to raise awareness and support sustainable efforts in the UAE.

The two hugely popular plastic campaigns of Goumbook are Drop It (for the business community an the general public) and Drop It Youth (for all students in the UAE and beyond)
Tatiana said her campaigns focus not only on creating awareness about the problem but also on creating solutions. "We want everyone to feel that they can make a difference and that small changes can have a great impact. Small steps are good to start with. And we have focused on a very common item we use every day: Bottled water. These bottles use so much energy and resources to be produced that reducing their consumption has a great impact."
She added that many people are not aware that local tap water here is safe to drink and that a simple water test can help us identify what filter to use.
"In the UAE, we consume an enormous amount of plastic bottles and we don't have enough plants to recycle all this plastic. Also, the plastic used for bottles can be recycled just a couple of times and will end up in the landfill anyways.
"Recycling this plastic into fabric is also not a solution as it is not healthy for our skin and will also end up in the landfill, as once it's been mixed with natural fibres, it cannot be recycled."
Goumbook's Popular Plastic Campaigns
DROP IT 
Rethink Plastic
> Launched in 2016 to unite individuals and the local business community in re-thinking their plastic consumption by switching to filtered tap water
> Makes an immediate positive environmental impact by reducing single-use plastic waste
> Ideal for hotels, restaurants, conference centres, offices and educational establishments
> The campaign received the support of Dr Abdulaziz bin Ali bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, also known as the "Green Sheikh", as well as of Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment
Achievements
>The campaign helped
Jumeirah Group launch the first plastic-bottle-free hotel in the UAE last year on Saadiyat Island
>At the launch of the HSBC tower in DIFC, all employees were given a reusable glass bottle and where only filtered water is served
DROP IT YOUTH
>Anchored on the success of Drop It-Rethink Plastic and now in its second edition
>Specifically designed for 11 to 12-year-olds.
>Empowers young ambassadors to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution in their class, year group, school, community and at home
Milestones
>Over 30 youth ambassadors are on board (from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain and Sharjah)
>Launched in Switzerland and Geneva
>Recently partnered with the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai, where the ambassadors were able to engage with the general public and talk about plastic pollution and what can be done
Why buy bottled water when you can drink your tap water?
1-Do a simple water test
2-Ask help from Goumbook so you would know which filter to use
3-Get your reusable bottles ready - and bring them everywhere you go
saman@khaleejtimes.com


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