The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)’s Team Zayed are engaging businesses around the UAE to commit to reducing single use plastics and packaging, in honour of the journey they are embarking on to Antarctica this month. This ‘ClimateForce Challenge’ has been rolled out to mark Team Zayed’s journey with Sir Robert Swan and an international team of environmentalists to raise awareness about climate change after witnessing and experiencing the impact of global warming on the South Pole.
This week a number of businesses signed on to the initiative – which involves signing a ‘pledge board’, whether at cafés, schools or businesses, with customers and students able to sign the board to show their commitment to assessing plastic use and reducing it in their everyday lives. The team, aptly named Team Zayed, to mark The Year of Zayed, will join teams from over 20 countries for two weeks to learn about climate change and witness first-hand the impact of global warming on the continent.
They will also take part in the renowned Leadership on the Edge Programme, run by polar explorer Sir Robert Swan, who was the first person to walk to both the North Pole and the South Pole. Mariam Al Qassimi, Specialist in Communications, coordinator of the Roots & Shoots programme and member of Team Zayed, said ‘We are trying to encourage positive environmental behaviour and get individuals, schools and businesses across the UAE commit to reducing their single-use plastic and packaging consumption. We are placing pledge boards in their establishments to sign and demonstrate that they will reduce their everyday plastic use and to encourage others to do the same.’
Pledges so far have included vows to reduce single-use plastic waste, to start composting, to only buy foods that have minimal or no packaging, to use reusable bags for shopping, to refuse straws and disposable cutlery, to carry their own containers and of course to spread the word to the wider community. “It’s a soft commitment from people to start thinking about whether using something once and throwing it away is how we should be behaving as a society,” said Winston Cowie, Section Manager for Marine Policy-Regulations and Planning in the Terrestrial & Marine Biodiversity, and another of Team Zayed’s explorers. “Your word is your bond. We are challenging people and businesses to live the value of sustainability and act accordingly. That is why we want people to take the first step and sign the boards, purchase their own re-useable cups and bags, and be energisers in their own families and communities to facilitate behavioural change.”
Rashed Al Zaabi, Scientist for Mammals in the Terrestrial & Marine Biodiversity and the third member of Team Zayed, stated: “At the recent Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots annual awards, it was really inspiring to see that one of the schools had phased out single use plastic water bottles – over the course of a year this resulted in over 500,000 less plastic bottles being used and then thrown away. We are encouraging people and all organisations to consider if they can do the same.”