Tools to Help You Refuse

One of my favorite tools that helps me to refuse disposable plastic is a simple stainless steel cup. They are light, inexpensive, durable, and best of all – available locally. My husband found the ones pictured below in a shop for household goods in Assalah Square. The cups (which, yes, unfortunately come packaged in plastic) cost LE 5 each. But that little bit of plastic is a lot less waste than all the disposable plastic cups you would use instead.

stainless steel cups

I throw one in my purse or backpack when I go out and then I never have to worry about being served a drink in a plastic cup. They are great for both cold and hot drinks. I bring them on camping trips, desert safaris, and mountain dinners. I bring them to restaurants and cafeterias. I bring them along on picnics and even to parties. No matter where I bring them, someone always comments and asks where the cups can be purchased. We bought ours at Alf Sunf (1,000 Items) several years ago, and although I can’t tell you for certain which shop my husband bought these new ones from, they are definitely available in Dahab. Take a look at your favorite household goods shop and ask. It shouldn’t take too long to find them.

If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce your individual plastic footprint, invest in a reusable stainless steel cup.

If you organize mountain dinners or desert safaris, invest in enough cups for all of your guests and stop serving drinks in plastic cups.

Cheers!

[Read about other useful tools here.]

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle

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Help Keep Our Playgrounds Litter-Free!

Lately, we’ve been spending time at one of the playgrounds in the city. Most of the public playgrounds leave a lot to be desired, but this one is relatively nice and provides plenty of shade. Sadly, I rarely see children playing there (unless they’re with me) but the playground gets a lot of foot traffic as it’s on the edge of the city across the street from the resorts. Many local workers and residents walk from the hotels up to the city, taking a path that goes through the playground. That would be one explanation for the abundance of litter. Another would be the lack of adequate rubbish bins.

Today, I finally remembered a bag and cleaned up most of the aluminium cans. These can be recycled. In fact, they can be sold for LE 2.5 per kilo. I don’t have a good scale to weigh them, but I probably collected around 2 kilos today. I will give my bag of cans to a young Bedouin friend who will be happy to take the bag to sell the cans and buy some snacks with the profits. (On my next visit, I will collect the recyclable plastic bottles.)

Playground Cans

::Please help keep our playgrounds clean::

+ If you finish a drink and there is no rubbish bin around, hold on to the can until you find one or until you get home. Don’t throw the can or bottle on the ground.

+ Sort your trash at home and keep a bag for cans. Pick up cans you see on the street and bring them home. Call Hemaya to collect your trash and recyclables from your house. Read about the benefits of recycling aluminium here.

aluminum-can-2-black

+ Skip the sodas altogether! Buy a refillable bottle or jug and make your own drinks. They’ll be better for your health and cost less money. Read some suggestions here.

The playful children (and adults!) of Dahab thank you!

REFUSE Plastic Straws!

reusable straw

There are lots of reasons to REFUSE plastic straws!

Did you know?

  • Most straws contain BPA, which is a harmful chemical that can affect brain and reproductive development. If fish and other marine animals ingest straws, those chemicals can also end up in our dinner!
  • Straws are not recyclable here in Dahab.
  • Like all plastics, straws photodegrade – they continue to break down into smaller and smaller pieces. They will always be on our planet.
  • Worldwide, straws are one of the Top 10 Most Commonly Found Items during beach clean-ups.

When I started on my journey to use less plastic, I admit straws were not high on my list of concerns. Mostly because we rarely eat at restaurants and when we do, I bring my own reusable water bottle. But occasionally I will join a friend for a drink at one of the many restaurants lining the shore here in Dahab. If that drink is tea or coffee, as it often is, no straw is necessary. That isn’t the case with my favorite order – fresh lemon juice, which I am quite happy to drink straight from a glass. I began to ask the waiters not to bring a straw with the juice, but it’s not always a successful strategy and I often end up with a straw anyway.

This happened one afternoon as I sat at a cafeteria with some friends and we began discussing whether or not we actually need a straw to enjoy our drinks of choice – sodas, juice, milkshakes, water. For me, the only drink I could think of that I would want a straw for was a milkshake, something that I haven’t even ordered for at least 5 years. One friend said only certain, more-pulpy juices called for a straw. Another said she likes straws when drinking sodas. I, of course, encouraged them to refuse the straws when they didn’t feel they needed them. Neither friend really pledged to follow through with this action, but at least we had discussed it. It was quite a serious conversation but somehow silly at the same time and I knew that at the first chance I got, I would buy them reusable straws!

Unfortunately, reusable straws are not available here in Egypt so I had to order them from America. I researched the many options – glass, stainless steel, bamboo – and was shocked by the varieties available! I finally decided on the simple stainless steel ones from Plastic Antidote, the official store of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. I asked a friend traveling from Germany to bring them in her suitcase for me. It’s been fun handing them out to several of my close friends, ones that I know will use them and engage others in conversations about them. It is my hope that if I can pull one of these straws from my bag when ordering a juice, the waiters will be more likely to understand my request to not bring me a plastic one.

Egypt produces a range of stainless steel products including dishes and cookware. We need to find a company willing to start producing reusable straws!

So until we have some available locally, please remember to ask your waiter to not give you a straw with your drink. Ask for a glass, if necessary, and drink straight from that.

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle