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Story | Research
1 November 2020

Top 10 actions you can take to help save the planet


Image source: Tariq, via REUTERS

Celebrating Qatar Sustainability Week 2020 – an initiative by Qatar Green Building Council – with small steps towards protecting our environment

Our world as we know it, stands at the edge of being damaged beyond repair. A recent World Economic Forum report states “2020 is on course to be the warmest year on record”. And although the pandemic has brought some relief to the levels of global emissions, plans need to be put in place to make that permanent.

As countries, governments and industries race against time to fight climate change, Qatar Foundation (QF) sheds light on simple actions that every individual can participate in to make a difference in this global cause.

1. Switch off lights and electronics when not in use
A lot of people underestimate the favor they would be doing to the environment by getting into the habit of simply turning off the lights when they leave a room or by switching off their electronics before they go to bed.

While many of us hear about “greenhouse gas emissions”, we might not know what it really means. These emissions are gases which trap heat within the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases allow sunlight to pass through, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. And carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases that is causing global warming.

Hence, by turning off lights and electronics when not in use as a daily habit, we are directly reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.

2. Get the best out of daylight and use smart lighting options
Making the best out of natural daylight could save hours of unnecessary electric lighting.

Image source: Alexander Kirch, via Shutterstock

Also, using “green” lighting solutions can significantly reduce energy usage as they are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs, and have a network system that allows them to be remotely controlled.

Also, opting for smarter lighting saves money on the bill.

3. Set air-conditioning to 24°C
With Qatar being a desert country, having air-conditioning on for long hours is not unusual. What setting air-conditioning temperatures between 22°C - 24°C does is that it reduces the energy usage by at least half a unit over the course of the day.

That reduction of energy consumption could make a significant difference from an environmental perspective, resulting in less carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

4. Track and monitor daily energy usage
Lowering our energy consumption means reducing the amount of toxic fumes released in the air – it is that simple. Adopting such an approach could be underestimated by many, but let’s imagine what the effect would be if each of the 7 billion people on the planet did the same.

There are many ways in which we can track our energy usage inside our homes – whether by regularly checking statistics indicated on our monthly bill to identify which appliances are consuming most energy and trying to reduce our consumption; changing our habits such as switching off appliances and devices when not in use; to taking a layer off in our clothing when feeling hot instead of lowering the AC temperature.

Also, professional energy auditors can be brought in to asses consumption, and can recommend ways to cut down areas of usage.

Another easy tip to consider is to use digital solutions, such as installing green Apps, such as Green Outlet, My Earth and Nest Mobile apps which help track usage.

5. Use public transportation
It is no surprise that private transportation is considered one of the world’s biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. According to research by BBC’s Smart Guide to Climate Change series, transportation as a whole is responsible of producing almost a quarter of the CO2 emissions worldwide.

Image source: Bruno Fahy, via REUTERS

Now that we are welcoming cooler days in Qatar, and metro services have resumed, many have the opportunity to use the metro as the main mode of transportation, instead of driving their personal cars to work, hence, contributing reducing the carbon footprint across Qatar.

6. Cycle or walk
With the COVID-19 crisis and the increased time being spent at home, having a chance to travel to your destinations by cycling or walking, whenever convenient, can be very beneficial for your health as well as the environment.

Image source: ESB Professional, via Shutterstock

While a lot of people may start walking to shopping centers close to them, or cycle to their favorite nearby restaurants, these habits may be something that can be sustained even in the post-pandemic world.

7. Ban single-use plastics
According to a study conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, the world is unable to cope with the amounts of plastic waste that is being currently generated. Drastic changes in government policies and innovative eco-friendly solutions by businesses and individuals are desperately needed to reverse the situation.

Qatar Foundation’s initiative for banning single-use plastics at Education City greatly supports this cause.

As individuals, it is important we realize that most of the single-use plastic products often end up in the ocean, and over time, turn into thousands of microplastic pieces that are extremely difficult to cleanup.

An easy solution is to start using eco-friendly products that can be recycled and reused.

8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Being aware of the good we can do to save the oceans, the air we breathe, the lands we live on, is very powerful to make us more conscious in the way we consume products, especially plastic.

Image source: Cool Vector Maker, via Shutterstock

Investing in reusable water bottles; choosing non-plastic cutlery; recycling waste regularly through facilities in Qatar; donating items we no longer need; and teaching children to become more aware in protecting our planet, are all simple ways in which we can make a difference.

9. Install timed and censored fixtures
Qatar is a dryland; here water is extremely precious. And therefore, it becomes even more important for residents in Qatar to consciously reduce water wastage.

By simply becoming mindful of our daily routines like taking a shower and brushing our teeth, we can reduce the amount of water we use. Installing timed and censored fixtures instead of manual ones can also be a quick and easy way to adjust and limit water consumption.

10. Add faucet aerators to home fixtures
A faucet aerator is an add-on that can be easily fixed in the spout of taps to limit the flow of water and distribute water evenly.

Available at most handyshops, it is considered a helpful tool to conserve water and doesn’t need a plumber to fix. Investing in low-flow, high-efficiency faucet aerators can make a great addition to changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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