Straw-less at Sababa

Now that summer temperatures have arrived, we’ve been happily spending more time in the sea. When it’s a calm day, you’ll find us at lagoona, our favorite swimming spot. But when Dahab’s wind is blowing, we head to the bay, where we always find a comfy spot at Sababa.

Sababa_No Straw

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, a fresh lemon juice is my refreshment of choice when I’m ordering from a cafeteria on the shore. Juice is always served with a plastic straw here in Dahab (sometimes two). I do not mind at all drinking my juice from the glass and, since I’ve started my less-plastic journey, I always ask waiters to not give me a straw. But even when asked in Arabic so there would be no misunderstanding, my juice often came served with a straw. Last year, I purchased some stainless steel straws. Not because I won’t drink without a straw but because I thought these reusable ones would make good props for when I am requesting my straw-less drinks. Having these reusable straws definitely helped and less plastic straws were wasted, but it was still no guarantee that the waiter would remember by the time he made it to the kitchen.

When it comes to getting my no-straw request filled, being a regular customer is the main thing that helps. So does walking yourself back to the kitchen with the stainless steel straws and giving them directly to a member of staff.  😉 That’s what Nadim did at Sababa after he realized he had forgotten the “no straw” request with our order of lemon juices. It only took a couple more “no straw” requests and now, when we order our juice, Mohamed checks with us that we have our reusable straws! He remembers before we can even ask. 🙂 Mohamed has even washed and returned my straw to me when I forgot to remove it from the empty glass. (Shokran, Mohamed!)

My advice to skip the plastic straw is easier said than done. But most of us have our favorite places that we return to often. So start there. Don’t get discouraged if your request is not fulfilled on the first, or second, or even third time. Make friends with one of the waiters and continue to politely make your request.

If you are an owner or manager of a restaurant, please consider not putting a straw into every drink. Wait until a customer specifically requests one and then bring them a straw. Or bring them a glass with their soda instead of a straw. Many customers will not miss sipping through this plastic!

Do you know of any cafeterias here in Dahab that don’t provide straws? Have you attempted a “no straw” request at a local restaurant? We’d love to hear about your experiences!

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle


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

Quenching your Thirst without the Plastic


Next week's forecast from

Next week’s forecast from

As you can tell from next week’s weather forecast, summer is heating up here in Dahab! With these temperatures, it is very important for all of us, but especially children, to keep hydrated. Drinking water is essential, of course, but it does get kind of boring. For some, water is just too tasteless to drink enough of it throughout the day. So we turn to other refreshments – juices, sodas, sport drinks. Unfortunately, these all come in plastic bottles. And while we may now be able to recycle those bottles, let’s not forget the health risks associated with plastic. It leaks toxic chemicals into our food and drink. (Plus, recycling is not the solution to our global plastic pollution problem and soda is toxic all on it’s own!)

I have never been a soda drinker but used to enjoy a cold tonic water and lemon in the summer. I also love juice. But I gave up both bottled tonic water and juice in Tetra Paks several years ago when I started out on this journey to reduce my plastic waste. This was not a hardship for me as there are several plastic-free options for refreshments that are healthier, tastier, and less expensive.

Option #1: In Egypt, shops selling fresh juice can be found on almost every street and we have several here in Dahab. Take advantage of these! You can stop by the shops and enjoy a glass right there. (Try to remember to tell the juice man that you do NOT need a straw.) Many of the shops also sell fresh juice in reused 1 ½ L plastic water bottles, which is better than a new plastic bottle. If hygiene or time is a concern, bring your own bottle and ask them to fill it with your favorite juice. Nadim and I have done this often with ‘asab (sugar cane juice).

fresh juice

Option #2: Make your own juice! Visit the fruit and veggie stalls and choose your favorite summer fruits. Remember to bring your own reusable bag. My favorite mix at the moment is watermelon and lemon. I’m lucky enough to have a blender but it’s not necessary. You can also use a squeezer or handheld juice press, which are easy to buy here in Dahab.

Option #3: If you’re not a fan of juice, you can also make other drinks. Karkade is another of my summer favorites. Bringing your own bag and buying the loose karkade from the bulk bags means you can avoid all plastic.

Loose karkade bought from bulk bags

Loose karkade bought from bulk bags

Search the Internet for recipes for making your own sodas and other summer refreshments. Get creative! We have many local desert herbs growing in our garden and my husband often makes infusions out of these, which we then chill. Our favorites are shay al-jebel (Pulicaria incisa), dhafrah (Iphiona scabra), and a Saudi mint similar to habaq (Menta longifolia).

If you’re going to be spending the day out and about, fill a reusable bottle with your favorite drink and carry it with you.

What are some of your favorite plastic-free summer drinks? Do you have any tasty recipes to share?

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle


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. 


“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.


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 for recycling, upcycling and repurposing denim.

Happy recycling!



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




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:


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.


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

Dahab Defenders 3

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. 

006_Winter Eid

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





Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle