Dahab Defender: Dive Urge

Dahab Defenders 3It’s been awhile since we’ve nominated a Dahab Defender, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t out there doing some amazing things. Just that we here at Don’t Mess with Dahab have been a little busy with other projects. Now that summer is here, we hope to have more time to devote to this project. So let’s kick off this summer with our newest Dahab Defender: Dive Urge ~ Dive Resort, Hotel, and Restaurant!

Last week, I had the chance to chat with the owners, English/Egyptian couple Lynne and Helal. We were joined by two of their three children. This is truly a family-run enterprise and each of them is a Dahab Defender in their own right. Together they have created a truly eco-friendly dive center. As Lynne and her son, Samah, gave me a tour of the compound, I was in awe of all the simple yet effective practices that they have put into place to care for the environment.

As Lynne explained, their logo, a hand cradling several starfish, sums up the philosophy that they have built their business on – caring for the sea and surrounding environment. When Dive Urge opened over 15 years ago, Lynne and Helal knew that they wanted to do things differently than other dive centers. The first decision they made was limiting the ratio of divers to guides to 4:1. (Most dive centers do 8:1.) This helps ensure that a guide is able to care for each guest and helps lessen the impact on the marine environment. But they didn’t stop there.

Waste Reduction and Management

Dive Urge sorts their trash – plastic, glass, and metal – for recycling. They provide bins both inside their compound and also along the boardwalk so that people walking by can also use them.

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To cut down on the waste that needs recycling, there is a water dispenser in the central room that all guests pass through. Guests are provided with bottled water but are also strongly encouraged to refill these bottles from the dispenser.

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Besides water bottles, guests are also provided reusable cotton bags for their personal use during their stay. They are encouraged to use these instead of accepting the plastic bags from the shops.

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It’s not just the guests who use cotton bags! The staff at Food Urge, the restaurant, also bring reusable cotton bags with them with they go shopping for veggies. The restaurant also sorts their trash and any appropriate food waste is given to the family goats. Goats eat everything! 😉

Dive Urge also organizes desert safaris and mountain dinners. To reduce the waste produced on these excursions, they have ditched the disposable plastic cups and have switched to providing reusable cups and utensils. Not only is that a lot less trash, the reusable cups don’t get blown away in the wind. That’s important in our very breezy town!

Energy and Water Consumption

Tips for guests on how to be responsible travelers can be found in each room. Guests are encouraged to reduce their energy consumption by turning off the lights and air conditioning when no one is in the room. Management also reserves the right to switch off the A.C. if left on while guests are away. Guests are also encouraged to take short showers, unplug electrical devices that aren’t in use, and to set their air-conditioning to 24 – 27 °.

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To further conserve resources, Dive Urge does not clean and launder the rooms every day. Guests must ask for cleaning services. This saves a lot of energy and water!

The rinse pool at the dive center has recently been made shallower, allowing them to use less water for each rinse. After the equipment has been rinsed, the water is used for the grass in the garden.

On top of all of this, Dive Urge also cleans the sea every time that they dive. The guides will always collect any trash that they can (without it interfering in their guests’ safety). Lynne and her family also clean litter from the beach and the streets on a nearly daily basis. What super role models for new divers and local residents!

Because of their dedication to the environment and the needs of local people, you can now find Dive Urge on ResponsibleTravel.com, an excellent website focused on small holiday companies that give something back to their communities.

It is obvious that Dive Urge does an outstanding job protecting our local environment and teaching others to do the same. Please, if you pass by the dive center, stop in and tell them what a great job they are doing! Share their story with other owners or managers you may know. It might just be the inspiration and ideas that others are looking for.

A very big THANK YOU to Lynne and Helal for all their hard work and dedication!!

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Meet Coge 3

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Coge 3 is an organization dedicated spreading awareness of the global plastic pollution problem. Coge 3 (“Take 3”) began as an initiative to encourage everyone to remove three pieces of litter that they find while enjoying outdoor activities. The majority of founders and volunteers are surfers and so they are very passionate about the sea and nature in general. Basically, their goal is to improve the health of our environment by educating individuals about how our actions impact our ecosystems.

The planet requires from us daily effective actions of love. Trees, rivers, streams, parks, forests, lakes, seas, glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, birds and fish die slowly. If man wants to ensure a healthy environment for future generations, we must act immediately, as we are required to care for the planet, in defense of all life forms. One of these ways to protect our planet and reduce the negative impact we have on it, is the proper use of organic and inorganic materials, beginning with the knowledge of the subject with our students to properly classify solid household waste and their school.”

Currently, volunteers from Coge 3 are participating in a World Surf event that has them cycling or surfing from Hossegor, France to Peniche, Portugal – 1,600 kilometers along the Camino de Santiago. Along the way, they are assisting with clean-up events and hosting educational workshops.

Although Coge 3 began in Spain, it has become a global movement thanks to volunteer ambassadors, like Captain Moore and Tony Butt. Egypt is lucky enough to now have it’s own ambassador and Coge 3 Egypt branch! Susan Virkala, a Finnish woman, works for Miami Group Egypt, which runs a hotel in Dahab as well as a production company and travel agency in Cairo. She is involved mainly with International Sales and Marketing. Through her position, she has the opportunity to promote eco-friendly ideas and practices to businesses and their customers. Being a surfer herself, Susan has a special love and appreciation for Dahab and the Sinai. She firmly believes that if we can make a difference here, it can be a model for the rest of the world.

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Susan is determined to involve as many members of our town as possible in this new Coge 3 initiative. She believes that is the only way to change people’s opinions and attitudes about how they treat their environment. To this end, she has been working tirelessly on coordinating with various businesses and individuals in Dahab interested in helping save our local ecosystem – and, of course, we here at Don’t Mess with Dahab support her efforts 100%. One of the initial goals of Coge 3 Egypt is to encourage businesses to switch from plastic to paper bags and already a few shops in Dahab have pledged to do so. We hope we can convince more businesses to do the same. Coge 3 Egypt will also continue to support clean-up events and educational and awareness activities. Susan understands the challenge involved in the task of making

Please help us welcome Susan and Coge 3 to Dahab! If you are an individual or a business owner and would like more information about how to get involved, contact them through their Coge 3 Egypt Facebook page. You can also visit Coge 3’s website. Only the Spanish version is available at the moment, but the Global Site will be online in the near future.

Plastic Free Dahab & Nuweiba Project Overview (PDF)

Dahab Defender: Bronwyn Jones

 

Dahab Defenders 3

Besides REFUSING disposable plastic, there are countless ways to reduce the waste that we produce. REPAIRING and REPURPOSING are both excellent ways of helping us get the most use out of our “stuff” before we “throw it away”. And so our next Dahab Defender is someone who does just that! Bronwyn Jones, owner of Peace Road Designs – Dahab, crafts some amazingly beautiful bags. But she also helps a lot of us REPAIR our clothes so we can wear them longer. Today, Bron has written about one of the more popular items she repairs – jeans. Keep reading to learn about her amazing efforts to lessen the amount of clothes sent to landfills. 

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“People should not consume without thought, buying up stuff all the time. Buy less and make it last; if you love something, wear it all the time.” Wise words from Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer.

Even better, don’t buy any clothes for a long time. This is not difficult if you live in Dahab! Instead, try repairing or altering your existing clothes. This is where I come in! I am passionate about keeping clothes out of the landfill and instead recycle, upcycle, repurpose …. or any term used these days to basically describe the practice of not throwing away your clothes.

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Do you have a pair of jeans that have molded to your body over the years? You’ve just “broken them in”. They are the most comfortable piece of clothing in your wardrobe. They are most certainly showing signs of wear and tear but are irreplaceable. I bet there is a story behind the different stains, abrasions and scrapings.

10425726_10152448876187209_1235952824_nBecause we wear jeans almost every day (some of us do), they wear out fast. Jeans worn low, hanging from your hips or are tight fitting wear out at the crotch. The thick seams rub against each other, eventually breaking the fabric. Pre-treated and pre-washed jeans such as stone wash, enzyme wash, sandblasting and acid wash, shorten the lifespan compared to dry denim as these processes significantly damage and weaken the material.

However, extending the life of your favorite jeans is easy. I am a tailor, so know how to use a sewing machine. I have lost count of how many jeans I’ve repaired, some from a basic tear through to some very distinct designs. One of my favorite projects was modifying a capri-style jean into a funky patchwork jean. I have also made a few “jean monsters”.10428843_10152448876177209_2030490465_nYou can repair your own jeans with needle, thread and patches of fabric. I like to cut up old jeans that I’ve collected from local second-hand clothing shops or someone has passed on to me. I try to use a denim material close to the colour and quality of the original jean. I like the idea of cutting up old jeans, as this also keeps them out of the landfill.

I encourage you to be adventurous with your old jeans. Turn your favorite jeans into a personal work of art. You are only limited by your imagination. There are hundreds of ideas on pinterest.com for recycling, upcycling and repurposing denim.

Happy recycling!

Bron

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Bron has REPAIRED a pair of denim pants and a pair of denim shorts for my husband. This was such a great relief as it is difficult to find clothes that fit him here in Dahab. Nadim will now be able to keep wearing these shorts and pants for several more years, inshallah. 🙂 Bron has also modified a dress (that I didn’t wear) into a lovely long skirt that I will wear often in Dahab’s summer heat. So, check your cupboards and take a look at some of the clothes in there that you don’t wear. Do they need repaired? Modified? Take them to Bron! Perhaps you simply don’t want them anymore. Pass them on to one of the second-hand shops for someone else to purchase or even to Bron who may be able to give a second life to the items.

A huge THANK YOU to Bronwyn for all her creative efforts in RECYCLING, REPAIRING, and REPURPOSING our clothes! Bron also has a passion for photography and shares some amazingly colorful images so be sure to follow her on one of the sites linked below:

Peace Road Designs – Dahab

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeaceRoadDahab

Twitter: https://twitter.com/peaceroaddesign

Instagram: http://instagram.com/peaceroaddesigns/

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

 

Dahab Defender: Annet Fransen

Dahab Defenders 3Many of you may already be familiar with Annet, a talented baker here in Dahab, but did you know that she also works hard on reducing plastic waste? When I saw a post on Facebook about Annet reusing Tetra Paks as packaging for slices of cake, I contacted her to learn about her efforts. Impressed by what she was doing, I nominated her as a Dahab Defender and asked her to tell us more about what she does. She was kind enough to answer some questions for our blog:

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You are well-known in the Dahab community for your delicious brownies. What other baked goods do you offer and where can they be purchased?

– Ah, essential questions first – For the moment I’m only baking for the Hands of Dahab Market (Thursdays at the Tea Garden in Mashraba). [UPDATE MARCH 2016: Annet is baking now for the Dahab Community Market on Friday afternoons at Sheikh Salem.] I also do the occasional special order for a birthday cake or special event – these are often special ‘projects’ such as gluten-free or sugar-free baking. I like to do my foodie research and come up with a nice alternative for these occasions, but I keep this baking down to a minimum as I also have a ‘real job’ to attend to.

What motivated you to start reducing waste?

Living in Dahab, and walking around town, having to step over dirty diapers, plastic, glass etc.. it’s almost impossible not to be motivated to reduce waste 😉 I’m not a diver and only an occasional snorkeler, but I’m obviously also aware of the damage to the coral and marine life from waste disposal. Here in Dahab, as everything is less structured than in Europe, you soon learn to take responsibility for some basic things, such as waste. Without a fully functioning waste disposal system, waste reduction is the way to go. You can easily compost and/or feed organic waste to the goats, recycle/upcycle some of your boxes & bottles for use around the house and garden. I’m definitely not reducing waste as much as I should just yet, but if we can all do a little the effect is already there.

Polystyrene trays, plastic wrap, and plastic utensils are typically used by many sellers to serve or package food. What alternative packaging do you use?

I use mostly paper for all my packaged foods – whether these are recycled magazines or large rolls of ‘brown paper’ for wrapping pie slices and cookies/brownies. I also collect Tetra Paks & small cardboard boxes for more fragile items, such as pies with cream toppings. I think it’s fairly easy to reduce or completely eradicate polystyrene this way. At the market, we’ve also introduced a 5 LE money-back policy for anyone who brings their own containers (this is funded from our table fees). Quite a few people have gotten used to bringing their Tupperware to the market. I still offer plastic forks, but a lot of people don’t take them, as they buy a drink at the restaurant with their cake and then use a teaspoon, or eat with their hands.

Paper packaging instead of plastic.

Paper packaging instead of plastic.

Reusing magazines as food containers.

Reusing magazines as food containers.

Where do you get the materials that you recycle?

I use rolls of paper that we buy by the kilo in Cairo. I cut the large rolls into squares, and a large paper roll will last me at least a year. In addition to that I use magazine pages and recycled boxes & Tetra Paks. So far my own supplies have been pretty much sufficient, but I could definitely use more Tetra Paks

Tetra Paks as plates.

Tetra Paks as plates.

What about in the shopping and preparation of your baked goods? Have you found ways to reduce the packaging waste of the ingredients you purchase?

I usually bring my own bags to the market, and I go for paper packaging (flour for instance) where I can, I also bring my own egg box (also to reduce breakage), but that’s as far as I’ve come in this department..

What has been the biggest obstacle that you have faced in your efforts to reduce waste?

To some extent, a lack of planning on my part. I also find it tricky to transport the pies to the market without using plastic bags – here I’ve been reusing plastic bags from my shopping.

You also offer cooking classes at your home. Can you tell us a bit more about these and any earth-friendly practices you promote through these classes?

Yes, I’ve been offering cooking classes – though at the moment I just find I’m too busy for them. In these classes I always try to show my students how I grow salads & herbs in my own garden. And I always make a point of showing how much of our cooking class waste can go on the compost heap, and how easy it is to have one in the garden. A lot of people are worried about bugs, smells etc., but I’ve never found this to be a problem with my compost.

Do you have any advice for other vendors or small business owners who would like to start reducing waste? Where should they start?

  • Find suppliers of paper packaging. They are definitely there in Cairo, and I’ve heard rumors of paper packaging in Dahab (maybe you know more about this?).

  • Try to give customers a small incentive for bringing their own container, maybe a small discount or a larger portion? People really appreciate this and you also reduce cost by not using packaging.

  • You could also offer reusable packaging, such as a few Tupperware containers or other food containers, for resale in your restaurant/shop, to get people started on bringing their own containers and raise awareness.

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Many thanks to Annet and the Hands of Dahab Community Market for their efforts in reducing plastic waste!

Remember to bring your own container to the market on Fridays, Dahabians! And if you have empty Tetra Paks, consider saving them and passing them on to Annet to reuse as plates. (Note: Currently, Tetra Paks are NOT collected and recycled by Hemaya.)

Search for the Dahab Community Market Group on Facebook to contact Annet or other vendors and organizers. 

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

Dahab Defender: Eid Al Atrash

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It’s time to finally kick off our Dahab Defender project! If you missed the first post about this project, you can visit this page for more information, but basically we are thanking and cheering on individuals and businesses who are working toward reducing waste here in Dahab.

The first person I have chosen to dub a “Dahab Defender” is Eid Al Atrash, owner and manager of Bedouin History Desert Safari tour company which offers camel, trekking, and jeep safaris throughout the region. Eid’s passions include slow food, nature, the environment, and his traditional Bedouin culture. He is from Ras Sudr and for the past several years that is where he has been based. But Eid has a long history and a deep connection to Dahab, having lived and worked here for several of the past 25 years. 

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Eid Al Atrash

Earlier this year when Eid was visiting Dahab, I mentioned to him that I wanted to organize an event to clean up a part of the coast. Not only did Eid agree that this was a much-needed action, he volunteered to help organize and sponsor the clean-up event, which we had decided would take place in less than 5 days, on January 25th. Eid arranged the transport to an area south of Dahab in Nabq Protected Area, provided snacks and refreshments for everyone who participated, and organized the pick-up of all the trash we had collected. He also ensured the plastic trash would be recycled by finding a man who would bring the trash to Sharm el Sheikh, where it was purchased by traders in recyclable items. All of this for a town that he no longer calls home.

Here are a few photos from our first Coastal Clean-Up:

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And so, Eid’s dedication to Dahab and passion for a cleaner environment make him our very first Dahab Defender! We thank him for all of his support in our first clean-up event and we look forward to our next one. 🙂

Bedouin History Desert Safari

Website: https://bedouinhistory.com

Blog: http://bedouinhistorydesertsafari.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BedouinHistory

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BedouinHistory

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle