A Greener Egypt: Learning to reduce

The idea behind reducing is really reducing waste. We create waste a number of different ways–by simply adding to trash, by over purchasing/cooking/creating and then throwing out extras and by consuming energy and resources when we do not need too. You’ll find that cutting down, in general, will allow you to cut down on expenses as well–and who doesn’t need that at a time like this!

We’ve broken down the little activities that you can do to reduce the amount of waste and the carbon footprint you make. Above and beyond trying to recycle what you do waste or trying to reuse things that you would normally throw away, reducing is perhaps the first step to taking less of a toll on the earth and its inhabitants.

Reduce Trash

Thinking a little about your purchases before heading to the grocery store can considerably lessen the amount of rubbish you have accumulated by the end of the week. Keep these five steps in mind when you look over your grocery list.

Choose alternative products. Try to pick products that do not come in packaging or that come in less waste-producing packaging. Consider packaged cheese versus cheese from the cheese counter and consider bringing a package from home to reduce waste from Styrofoam and plastic wrap. Rather than buying canned, frozen or pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, pass by a local fruit and vegetable vendor with a reusable shopping bag to cut down on packaging waste.

Buy reusable containers. Although plastic can be a worry when reusing, purchasing glass bottles or containers for food can help reduce your trash. Filtered water can be kept in reusable glass bottles and small glass containers (or plastic for safety) make for a much more environmentally friendly option than disposable plastic bags in kid’s lunches. Consider getting fresh juice for home use by filling a reusable glass bottle rather than buying purchased preservative-filled juice. You can even package it in your child’s portable sippy cup instead of buying juice boxes.

Reduce Consumption

Now, this does not necessarily mean we need to eat or drink less, but we certainly need to buy and order and cook less because food is being wasted on a daily basis.

Cook less. Remember the “finish your plate, there are starving children” speech you used to get from your parents? (The same one you may already be passing on to your children.) Well, here’s a slightly different take on it–watch how much you and your children eat and reproduce that same amount for the following day’s dinner. If your child can’t get through two helpings of dinner, only make one. There’s no need for you to be over stuffing your children and making them feel guilty about not eating food–stop making so much food!

Re-heat. Seems simple? Many excuses crop up when it comes to eating left overs–especially in Egypt where the concept is not so highly regarded. So, if you insist on cooking too much, make sure you package it well in your reusable glass containers and can find a way to make it exciting for the next day.

Buy less. How quickly do you go through your perishable items. If you don’t eat certain fruits or vegetables regularly, try to keep track of how many get eaten. Purchasing by weight or by item will allow you to decrease the waste of rotting produce. And don’t over purchase in the face of reduced prices–often food items ‘on sale’ are actually closer to their expiry dates. If you don’t eat them, you will throw them away.
Shopaholics beware. It’s not only about food. Many of us, when hit with a sale, buy more than we would have originally. Although it goes without saying that we should consider the things we purchase before we purchase them, a purchase gone awry should be recognized, admitted and dealt with. Return or exchange the item in time or pass it on to someone in need. Try to keep the cycle of clothes and toys moving so that you do not end up with clutter in your home or toys left rotting too long or clothes eaten by moths that can no longer be passed on to someone else.

Reduce Energy and Natural Resource Consumption

Water, gas and electricity are resources that can get used up. With the latest debates over the Nile Basin, the hike in gas prices and the constantly increasing electricity prices, you should have some awareness of how natural resources can affect your life.

Save water. Although we may not yet be accountable for exactly how much water we use in a monetary sense, resource wise, we have been wasting water in this country for years. Although turning off the tap when you brush your teeth makes a difference, there are other ways to take better care of one of the earth’s most precious commodities.

    * Fix leaks
    * Take quick showers instead of baths
    * Don’t flush trash down the toilet
    * Water plants in the evening
    * Don’t let water run while washing your hands

Save gas. You may think your gas consumption is based solely on the kind of car you drive but other factors can affect the use or misuse of this non-renewable energy. Keep these tips in mind when you grab your keys:

    * Carpool when possible.
    * Keep your tires inflated–low tires can increase gas consumption.
    * Walk when you can or take a bike.
    * Even ordering delivery from a nearby grocer can mean someone will take a bike instead of you taking your car.

Save electricity. Want to keep your electricity bill down while you befriend the earth? Keep these tips in mind. One great exercise to save electricity: just before bed, turn off the lights and look around your house for the little red and green lights of plugged in appliances. Then turn on the lights and unplug them all.

    * Turn off lights when you leave a room.
    * In the summer, keep gatherings in smaller rooms to reduce air conditioning effor to cool large spaces.
    * Buy energy saving bulbs–yes, they do come in a nice warm yellow color for those who can’t stand white light.
    * Clean air conditioning filters.
    * Don’t leave the refrigerator or freezer door open.

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