14 Jan WWHiDoha and the Doha Environmental Actions Project
5 reasons to make your next fun day at the beach a purposeful one – by Jeanne BÉDARD BROWN, Doha Environmental Project
When you’re swiping across social media liking and sharing posts of interesting stuff, initiatives, or projects, did you ever think that you could take part and DO something about it? Even if you did, were you discouraged because the effort seemed daunting? I, for one, am guilty of giving a thumbs up to a great initiative and quickly moving on to the next because I am not sure where to start.
Out of all the things I thrive to do and learn more about, lies my love for food and snorkeling. And here is what hit me:
First, while snorkeling off the beaches of Qatar, I frequently see more trash than fish. No thumbs up for that.
Second, I am a dietitian. I have a lot of great things to say about food and one sincere concern about it. The stuff we pollute the planet with today, found its way back onto your plate in your food. Plastics and other pollutants are regularly found inside the GI tract of birds, sea turtles and other marine mammals. A lot of those animals die from their digestive system being blocked with trash, thinking that it is food. If they’re lucky enough to survive? The chemicals from those plastics bio-accumulate in the food chain and in YOUR food. Let’s say animal welfare is not your priority or you don’t eat seafood. OK. You must surely drink water? What if I told you that worldwide, micro-plastics can be found in drinking water.
Now, let me tell you how much good news I came across while visiting Qatar beaches with the purpose of enjoying a cleaner beach. A few months ago, I tried retaliating against plastic being in the food chain and my snorkeling landscape in the simplest way I knew how; cleaning a beach once a week. I created Doha Environmental Actions Project Facebook Page to see if 1 or 2 people would join me…
Great news # 1: You and I can have a lot of friends. When I started snorkeling, I posted glamorous pictures of myself with the garbage bags collected on the beach. My Facebook friends “liked” my posts. Then I created events to see if people would join. Could we do more actions than “likes” on the Internet? Facebook worked its magic in connecting people and since then, our Facebook group, Doha Environmental Actions Project has over 1500 people and has 20 to 100 people getting together every week, going to different places in Qatar. Our community comes from over 20 different countries, different beliefs, religion, jobs title and economic status, yet when we are on the beach, we are all equally admiring the natural beauty and we work together to restore and preserve it. We have a common goal and people care enough to take their only day off, on Friday, to come with us to the beach. We know that the environment, nature, planet, call it what you want, has no boundaries. The plastic that floats in our ocean doesn’t get stopped at the border…
Great news #2: Making a difference is fun. We meet somewhere and share rides / carpool, get to the beach and clean it for 45 min to 1 hour then we swim, play sports, relax and share food. Several groups and companies are joining our actions. We are residents of Qatar and part-time tourists and our events are intertwined with different adventures including :
- Top Moto, a QUAD bikes rental company in Sealine, lending us beach buggies to clean another part of Qatar’s sand dunes and beach.
- Qatar International Adventures, a well-known tourism company is Qatar sponsored 100 people to experience their Desert Dunes adventure, camp and BBQ while cleaning up a part of the Inland Sea Beach that is hard to access.
- Drumming Qatar and our group met at Dukan Beach to clean the area and enjoy an energetic drumming session.
- A free initiation to yoga given by one of our volunteers just after we cleaned the Singing Sand Dunes are!
Let’s be honest, no one really wants to take a desert tour, go kayaking in the mangrove or scuba dive in the ocean and see trash lying around… While we explore and enjoy Qatar’s beauty, we take part in improving our health and promoting the tourism industry. Join us and discover Qatar with a purpose!
Great news #3 : We love good news. We are often exposed to more bad news than good news on social media and TV. We know that human actions are harming the environment in so many ways. We are aware the problem exist and we also think that a lot of people, just like us, care enough to take action to create a better place. On our Facebook page, we post as many positive initiatives as possible, focusing on solutions is a lot less depressing. We want to be exposed to those inspiring actions and show how easy it is to make things a little better. Do you know any inspiring actions like Precious Plastic, Take 3 from the sea, Life without plastic, The Ocean Clean-up? If so, please share them with us!
Great news #4 : We are making a difference in removing plastic from the food chain and saving a few turtles, dugongs and birds in the process. Some people may say that what we do is nothing considering the amount of plastic that is dumped in the ocean every day… But so far, we’ve completed 40 clean-ups in 7 months collecting more than 3 800 grocery size garbage bags from the Qatar’s beaches! Volunteer power!
Great news # 5: You are part of the solution even if you don’t volunteer. Whether it is because of the sun exposure, the heat or your work schedule, some people will not join us. Even if you don’t join as volunteers, you can make a huge difference by disposing of your trash responsibly!
- Don’t litter. Cleanliness is cool. After 7 months of cleaning beaches, we launch our first Anti-Littering video campaign in English and Arabic : “More than Sand & Sea” to encourage citizens and residents to be their better selves and dispose of their garbage responsibly. Use the bin and don’t litter (take your trash with you if needed)! Remember that what is thrown in the streets will, because of the wind, get into the ocean. Go one step further and do a 5 min clean-up whenever you go or simply removed 2 or 3 items on the beach or in the street.
- Start recycling with a company like Elite Paper (paper), Global Metal (home plastic, paper and metal collection), Al Haya (E-waste), Rasas (batteries). Plastic, paper and electronic can have a second life and be transformed into something else. Did you know that we can make rugs and carpets out of plastic bottles?
- Reducing the waste you create today, by taking using reusable shopping bags, durable bottles and lunch boxes. Refuse the straws at the restaurant or the plastic cutlery if you are to eat your “take away” lunch at home!
We the Admins of WWHiDoha highly recommend that you get involved!
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