Trash Bucket Challenge

trash bucket challenge

Have you heard of the recent Ice Bucket Challenge? Well, a man in Hawaii is trying to start a spinoff  – the Trash Bucket Challenge. (Watch his video here.) He says, “The issue we wanted to bring light to is the ridiculous amount of trash that litter our beaches as a result of the world’s overuse of plastic.” (Read more here.)

The challenge is simply to collect a bucket (or bag) of trash from a public area, dispose of it, and challenge others to do the same. I’m not usually into these types of social media activities, but I’m all for raising awareness about the amount of waste we produce and thought this might be a fun way to get some rubbish off our streets and beaches. It’s too hot these days for big clean-up events, but it doesn’t take long to fill a bucket with trash so if enough of us accept the challenge, it will be like a big beach clean-up! Only we won’t get heat stroke.

So to get us started, I cleaned the street I live on. I did sort the recyclables (plastic bottles) out. I am sharing a photo instead of a video, well, because it’s just easier and faster. I pass the challenge on to all Dahabians! I also passed it on to some individual friends on Facebook. Who will you nominate?

nadim trash bucket challenge


Don’t Mess with Dahab – or Egypt!

Just a quick post to announce that Don’t Mess with Dahab is going national! I’ll be contributing biweekly to the blog for Egypt Today Magazine’s website. My focus will be on tips and strategies to reduce plastic that can be implemented anywhere in Egypt, not just Dahab. Here’s the link to my first installment that explains why I started the blog and what I hope to accomplish with it:

Check it out if you are newcomer to the blog!

Dahab Defenders

Dahab Defenders 3

Who are Dahab Defenders?

They are individuals, restaurants, hotels, shops, and other businesses and organizations who are voluntarily and proactively working towards reducing plastic waste and/or protecting and cleaning our local environment. And we would like to show them our appreciation and recognize them for a job well-done! We also hope that their stories will inspire others to explore ways that they can reduce their plastic waste or help our environment.

What do Dahab Defenders do?

They may engage in a variety of eco-friendly activities such as:

  • organizing or sponsoring clean-up events

  • sorting and recycling the trash at their place of business and encouraging customers to do the same

  • using alternatives to plastic bags, bottles, or packaging

  • using alternatives to plastic plates, cups, and utensils for dinners, parties, safaris, and other events

  • educating the local residents and/or tourists about environmental issues and how to responsibly care for the world’s natural resources

Of course, there are other earth-friendly practices Dahab Defenders may be implementing or promoting.

How are Dahab Defenders chosen?

Dahab Defenders are nominated by members of the Dahab community or discovered by the author of the blog during her research on reducing plastic waste. Do you know a person or company that you feel deserves recognition for their environmental efforts? Nominate them (or yourself!) to become a Dahab Defender. We will connect with them and plan a feature blog post here on Don’t Mess with Dahab about their earth-friendly practices or activities. The page (found by clicking the tab at the top of the blog site) will host an up-to-date list of all Dahab Defenders linked to their blog posts, as well as any contact information or links to their websites. Dahab Defenders will also receive a badge that they can display on their own blog or website.

Stay tuned! We will be featuring our first Dahab Defender in April. 

Say NO to plastic lighters!

No to lighters_sm2

I found this lighter while hiking in a nearby wadi yesterday. This message is not just for smokers; it’s for all of us who have to light gas stoves or desert campfires :: REFUSE plastic disposable lighters! Use matches or a refillable metal lighter instead.

Trash Collection and Recycling in Dahab

Have you ever wondered what happens to the trash you “throw away” in Dahab?

Have you ever wondered about the people who collect all our trash?

Meet Hemaya Association.

Hemaya, meaning “protection” in Arabic”, is an NGO, founded in Nuweiba in1997 by Sherif el Ghamrawy (of Basata Ecolodge). One of Hemaya’s many projects is the solid waste management here in Dahab. They are in charge of collecting, sorting, and transporting our trash. The waste is sorted – glass, plastic, aluminum, and cardboard – and compacted in the Industrial Zone in the city. These compacted bundles are then transported to 10th of Ramadan City (outside of Cairo) where they are sold to traders who RECYCLE the material. 

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We visited the center in the Industrial Zone today and asked them what we could do to make their job easier. The answer: Sort your trash. Then call Shargawy at +0122 60 89 204 to arrange free pick-up.

That’s right. If we sort our recyclable trash at home, Hemaya will collect it for free and it will be RECYCLED!

I have been sorting the glass and cardboard at our house and it’s taken a few months for the boxes to be full, but now that they are I will call Hemaya and request a pick-up. I will also start to sort the trash I collect from the street in front of my house.

TIP: REUSE the large flour sacks from the bakery or ask a shop for a cardboard box to use to sort your trash.

TIP: If you don’t want to wait as long for a pick-up, organize with your neighbors and together you’ll probably collect enough for more frequent pick-ups.

It was mentioned today that the local hotels could be doing a better job at sorting their trash, which they have all been asked to do. So if you are a hotel or business owner, please encourage (or better yet, require) your staff to sort the recyclable items in your trash. Provide separate bins for your guests. Then educate the staff and your guests about these bins. Some simple signs would help the guests. For example, it would be best if bottles were empty before being put in the bin. Having water left in the bottles slows the compacting process down as the bottles have to be emptied first.

If you are organizing a clean-up event, you can also call Hemaya and arrange for them to pick-up the bags from you. You don’t have to worry about sorting this trash. They will take care of that part for you. (Probably because it will be pretty easy as most of it will be plastic!)

For our clean-up event a few weeks ago, a Bedouin man drove the 40+ bags of trash we had collected to a center in Sharm el Sheikh where he was able to sell the trash to traders. He would probably have earned between LE 150 – 200 for the whole load (which is why he did not charge us anything).

Do you already sort the trash at your home? If not, are you willing to do so? Why or why not? Does your hotel/restaurant/business sort their trash? Do you provide bins for your guests? What tips do you have for other establishments wanting to sort their trash?

Read more about how Sherif started the organization here.

Read more about Hemaya here

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

What’s your Plastic Footprint?

plastic footprint

You may know about your carbon footprint, but what do you know about your “plastic footprint”? How much plastic trash are you responsible for?

Activist and author, Beth Terry, has been collecting and tallying her plastic trash since 2007 and encourages others to participate in the Plastic Trash Challenge:

Do you know your plastic footprint? Join others from around the world. Collect your plastic waste (both recyclable and non) for one week or more. Then photograph, tally, and post it here.

On the page about the rules for the challenge, it states that “Guilt is not encouraged. Nor are comparisons with other people whom you perceive to be doing “worse” or “better” than you in terms of plastic waste. This exercise is for purely educational purposes. Guilt doesn’t help.” 

Actually, it goes on to say that two more times. That’s how important the message is. The challenge is meant to teach you, to show you the amount of plastic trash you are responsible for and hopefully encourage you to find ways to lessen your plastic footprint.

While I never participated in the Plastic Trash Challenge, it did prompt me to take a closer look at what I was “throwing away”. 

Here’s a quick list of some of the plastic that used to end up in my trash:

  • plastic bags for: flour, sugar, salt, pasta, bread, lentils, beans, eggs, take-away food, laundry soap

  • plastic bottles for: olive oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, tahina, molasses, honey, dish soap, shampoo

  • plastic boxes for: helawa, cheese, sour cream

  • polystyrene trays/plastic wrap for: cheese, nuts, strawberries, butter, agwa, meat

  • Tetra Paks for: milk, buttermilk, juice

  • yogurt containers

  • plastic packages for tissue and toilet paper rolls

  • tubes of toothpaste, deodorant cream, shaving cream

This list is not exhaustive. (And some of these items still end up in my trash.) It made it clear, though, that while REFUSING plastic shopping bags and bottled water was a good start, I could do more to reduce my plastic footprint.

In her book, Ms. Terry, recommends considering the following questions after you’ve taken a look at the plastic you “throw away”:

  • Which items can you replace with plastic-free or less-plastic alternatives?

  • Which items could you give up?

  • Which items are essential?

  • Which items have no alternative?

  • Are lifestyle changes necessary to rid your life of some of these plastic items?

Over the last few years, we have been able to find plastic-free or less-plastic alternatives for many of the items on our list. And that, of course, is what this blog is really about: sharing with you these alternative practices and products that are available and practical here in Dahab.

I encourage you to participate in your own Plastic Trash Challenge! Start to pay attention to what you are “throwing way”. And stay tuned. Over the new few weeks and months, we’ll be exploring and discussing the questions posed by Ms. Terry and how we can each reduce our plastic footprint. 

* Original photo of plastic trash above taken by Steve Wilhelm.

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

Take a look at our trash and be inspired to change!

Turning my camera lens on the various trash piles in Dahab was very difficult for me. I prefer to point my lens at the natural beauty in the world. But I came to realize that perhaps too many of us walk or bike around town ignoring the growing piles of rubbish. We get used to it, we turn our heads the other way because we think there is nothing we can do, we choose to focus on the good things in our town instead. Understandable.

But then I read about Green11, a company based in California that offers personal care and cleaning products in bulk, in refillable containers. Here’s what got my attention:

The co-owners of Green11 “had witnessed the environmental effects of plastic packaging firsthand while scuba diving in Egypt for seven weeks. On some of the most remote beaches on the planet, they saw plastic everywhere they looked…” (Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too)

So I got to thinking that if this couple can find inspiration in our trash, perhaps we can, too. Perhaps if we look at these images and pay attention to the rubbish we pass on the streets, we can find the motivation we need to make changes in our lives, to decide to live with less plastic.

And while much of the waste is produced by us local residents, it is not all our trash. Dahab must also deal with the enormous amount of waste left behind by tourists. There are also reports of the passing container ships dumping their trash into the Gulf of Aqaba which then finds its way to our shore.

The rubbish problem can seem overwhelming, but that is no reason to ignore it. Let’s all take a closer look at our surroundings and, like the owners of Green11, make a decision to do something about it, at least on a personal level. Let’s all be role models for our children, the visiting tourists, and local businesses.

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle