• Home
  • Health
  • The Doha Family Guide to Sustainable Living

The Doha Family Guide to Sustainable Living

by Kim Wyatt

More and more people are thinking about our planet’s future and making sustainable changes to their lifestyles. As consumers, everything we do impacts our environment, from the clothes we wear to the food we buy. But how can we change our daily habits to create more sustainable lifestyles and save our planet? A big myth is that you need to completely overhaul your whole lifestyle, but that is not the case!

Change takes time, but with a few steps, you can start creating a positive impact. As the green movement becomes more popular here in Qatar, an increasing number of eco-friendly services, options, and products have become readily available. If you’re looking to make a change but feel a little overwhelmed, we’ve compiled a list of simple but effective solutions to get you started.

  1. DITCH SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

By 2050, the planet’s oceans could contain more plastic than fish, according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In Qatar, several environmental action groups clean up beaches from single-use plastic items, including water bottles, face masks, and shopping bags. University student Rawa Adel, from the College of North Atlantic, recently joined a beach clean-up at Al Zubara. She says: “Initially, I was in shock about the amount of plastic that quite literally covered the beach shore, but with the great work of volunteers, we managed to collect 3000 kilograms of garbage bags.”

So, how has Rawa ditched single-use plastic? “In the beginning, I changed from plastic straws to metal straws. Then I swapped from plastic bottles to more sustainable options such as metal and glass,” she says. Rawa strongly believes that even if we can’t change the world, we can all take steps to change our behaviours.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Use eco-friendly products such as cloth or canvas bags for shopping. Supermarkets such as Carrefour, Monoprix, and Al Meera stock a range of large and small bags for fruit and vegetables.
  • Switch to reusable water bottles and coffee cups. These are available at supermarkets and coffee outlets such as Starbucks.
  • Buy washable fabric face masks made from recyclable materials. You can find those at Virgin Megastores and Marks and Spencer.
  • Make your own fabric face masks from recycled materials.
  1. BUY LOCAL PRODUCE

Buying local produce is better for the environment because it cuts down carbon emissions from international transportation. The main concept behind Qatar’s popular Torba markets, says founder Fatma Al Khater, is “to provide products and services that are grounded in the principles of sustainability and community enrichment”. Products you can find at Torba include locally-grown and farm-fresh produce, artisan food, and gardening and landscaping tools. Torba also provides catering services and has spearheaded community development and sustainability initiatives. “We see ourselves as a gateway towards sustainability and living more mindfully. All our projects are informed by a desire for individuals and groups to be aware of their impact on the environment,” she says.

By buying homegrown fruit, veggies, and herbs, you’ll be helping to stimulate the local economy by keeping farms and their workers employed. As a bonus, locally produced food is fresher, retains more nutrients, and tastes better too!

ACTION STEPS:

  • Look for locally grown products in supermarkets with the “Made in Qatar” logo.
  • Visit farmers’ markets throughout Doha, such as Al Wakrah, Al Mazrouah, and Al Shamal. For details, visit the Ministry of Municipality and Environment’s Instagram page @Albaladiya.
  • Check out the weekly Torba Farmers Market at the Ceremonial Court in Education City. You can also find information through their Instagram account @farmersmarketqa.
  1. REDUCE FOOD WASTE

Food wastage is one of the most significant environmental issues on the planet. In landfills, gas emissions from rotting food destroy the earth’s protective ozone layer. A simple method to combat daily food waste at home is to make compost. It’s a great way to turn food scraps into an organic fertiliser full of nutrients for your indoor and outdoor plants. Plus, it’s free! Also, try organising daily and weekly menus to reduce food wastage at mealtimes.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Make a weekly food shopping list to reduce buying.
  • Start home composting.
  • Freeze leftover food in containers marked with the date and contents.
  • Search online for new and creative recipes to use leftovers.
  • Adequately store fresh fruit and vegetables for maximum freshness.
  1. REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE

The three Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) are essential for a sustainable lifestyle. Recycling is the perfect way to give new life to old items such as clothing, paper, furniture, cans, and batteries. The benefits of recycling include reducing the waste sent to landfills, conserving natural resources, and reducing pollution. With an increasing awareness of recycling’s benefits, more companies in Qatar are offering services and solutions to combat consumer wastage.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Organise clothes swaps or donate used items to registered charities such as Qatar Charity.
  • Recycle plastic bottles, cans, and batteries at selected Al Meera stores.
  • Donate used paper products to Elite Paper Recycling (Instagram: @eprqatar).
  • Sign up for a recycling subscription plan with Seashore Recycling (Instagram: @seashorerecycling).
  1. HOME GARDENING

Gardening has become the pandemic hobby of choice, and it’s not difficult to see why. Numerous studies have shown benefits ranging from better mental and physical health to removing toxic chemicals from the air. Outdoor gardening also encourages local biodiversity, such as bees and birds.

For Qatar home gardener Simi Paul, growing at home has become a passion. “It’s the perfect way to get rid of stress and lead a happy and productive life!” She says. Simi considers gardening to be “a lot of fun”, and according to her, you can grow many plants in Qatar, especially during the cooler months. “You can grow fresh, chemical-free vegetables or flowering plants such as bougainvillaea,” she says. But that doesn’t mean that the hottest months are off-limits either: “Even during the extreme summer season, you can grow plants. I have a collection of plants that have survived the climate for over 15 years!”

ACTION STEPS:

  • If you’re new to gardening, start with easy to grow plants. Go to your local plant store for advice.
  • Visit the Plant Souq located off Haloul Street for various plants, seeds, and accessories, or visit the gardening section in Carrefour.
  • Install a feeder or place a container of seeds to attract birds and encourage local biodiversity. You can find those at the pet section in Carrefour.
  • Get the kids involved! It’s an excellent opportunity to learn about the plant lifecycle and how to care for the environment.
  1. USE ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Did you know that a simple household item such as a plastic toothbrush can take hundreds of years to decompose? Or, that cotton buds can pollute the marine environment? Fortunately, sustainable household items are becoming more popular, and the good news is that more of those products are becoming available in Qatar. Eco-friendly items are made from biodegradable or recycled material, reducing their negative impact on the environment. Look out for items such as earth-friendly bamboo toothbrushes, home cleaning products made with organic materials, biodegradable cotton buds and makeup remover pads, and package-free bar soaps and shampoos.

ACTION STEPS

  • Visit the Torba markets for handmade and environmentally=friendly skincare products.
  • Shop at Monoprix for biodegradable cotton buds, facial pads, bamboo toothbrushes, and green beauty products from recyclable materials.
  • You can also find eco-friendly cleaning products in the main supermarkets.

GREENER FUTURE’S TOP TIPS

Aisha Al Maadeed (@greener.qa on Instagram) is the founder of Greener Future, a Qatari initiative that encourages awareness about eco-friendly choices. Here are Aisha’s top tips for creating a greener lifestyle:

  1. Reduce power wastage by switching off unnecessary lights and reduce water usage.
  2. Reduce fast fashion (most clothes from high street stores) and purchase pre-loved items.
  3. Replace chemical cleaners with natural and organic products.
  4. Purchase products made with recycled packaging.
  5. Use less paper.
+3