As UAE expats we arguably have a higher carbon footprint than the average person. This is due to a number of factors including our regular flights home to visit our families, buying furniture and appliances on the cheap and replacing each time we move, and the fact that we have to use motorised vehicles during most months to avoid the desert heat. But there are a few things we can do to ensure that our homes become as sustainable as possible. And no, we are not talking about convincing your landlord to add solar panels or a new expensive thermostat to your rental. Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest difference.
One of the easiest ways to make your home more sustainable is to install some good curtains. Insulated curtains help control room temperature, which in this climate is key to keeping down your ac usage (and your bill!). Good curtains don’t have to break the bank. IKEA has recently announced the planned launch of their “Gunrid” curtain, an air-purifying curtain coated with a mineral-based surface that breaks down common pollutants. The release date is yet to be announced but we will on the lookout for sure!
We all know that plants reduce carbon dioxide and improve overall air quality, but did you know that they also reduce airborne dust levels and even help decrease the air temperature? Winning! Not to mention, they literally make your place look greener!
Choose A Greener Paint
Opt for low or no VOC paint. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds and these are unstable chemicals which let of gasses that are harmful to both the environment and to people. VOC is emitted from paint not only during the painting process, but continues to be released from the walls long after the paint has dried. The difference of low VOC and no VOC is that low VOC has lower VOC “in comparison to other paints” whereas no VOC paint contains (you guessed it) no volatile organic compounds. VOC is often added to no VOC paints during the tinting process but it is still much better than the original VOC versions. Benjamin Moore offers a wide selection of no-VOC paint across most of their product types, and you can find low VOC paint options at Jotun (Fenomastic Pure range).
Switching to an at-home filter system for your water is one of the easiest ways to make your home more sustainable. We would highly recommend HCME vendor Liquid of Life who offer a range of water filtration products from bottle dispensers to under the sink filters that allow you to drink directly from the tap! If a home filter system is out of your budget, make sure you at least invest in a 5 gallon water dispenser and sign up for one of the many water providers recycling programs where they pick up your empty drums and re-use them.
Swap Out Your Bulbs
If you are renting then chances are the lightbulbs in your property have been there since at least one tenant back and that when replaced, they were probably not replaced with the best quality bulb. LED and energy saving bulbs will last for ages, are energy efficient, and can be found in both white and warm light.
Reduce Paper Consumption
Put down the paper towels. There is a lot of hype around going plastic free and we are totally behind this movement, but did you ever consider a paper free kitchen? Tea towels are affordable, reusable and they come in so many colors and patterns that they can instantly complement your kitchen décor.
Fix Don’t Throw
When a reporter asked an old couple “How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?” The woman replied. “We were born in a time when if something was broken, we would FIX it, not throw it away.” Consider this the next time you want to throw out a stained sofa or a “just not quite right” dining table. There are some amazing craftsmen here in the UAE that can do incredible upholster jobs. If you really don’t want to keep the piece, put it on a second hand size or donate it.
Use Sustainable Cleaning Products
Invest in high quality cleaning products. One of our favourite local brands, The Botanist Dubai, offer plant-based home care products that are chemical free, smell lovely and effectively remove germs and stains while protecting your health and the planet. Even better, when you run out of your product you can simply bring back your bottle and top it up, so no more empties going to waste! Another approach is to find alternatives to the traditional way of cleaning.
Take your laundry for example. Founded by Elham Al Qasim, the Natural Laundry Company is taking a stance on sustainability by using biodegradable solvents, significantly less water and energy and committing to zero plastic this laundry service is taking care of more than your clothes, they also take into account your health and the environment. Instead of delivering your clothes in plastic bags with wire hangers they use non woven bags and velvet hangers which you can keep in your home or rerun to TNLC. Pickup and delivery is arranged through their app.
Source Pre-loved Furniture & Invest In Sustainable Brands
Buy second hand: With the high turnover of expats in Dubai, you can find some real gems at second hand websites such as Dubizzle, Facebook selling groups or in second hand shops. Plus, they come free of packaging!
A number of UAE based brands are challenging the norm of “cheap and cheerful” by creating sustainable, long lasting products that are beautiful in your home. When sourcing sustainable furniture some key things to take into consideration include: Are the products produced in a fair trade way which protects workers? Are the materials biodegradable meaning they can break down and not contribute to the landfill problem? Is this a piece which you can see yourself keeping in your home for years to come?
Some of our personal favourite sustainable brands for furniture shopping in the region include:
Home and Soul
From beautiful hand-made rugs composed of planet-friendly, biodegradable fibres to the ever popular Eva Bar Stool made of rattan, this lifestyle furniture boutique is a must visit when looking for stylish but sustainable pieces for your home. Bohemian chic AND sustainable? We’ll take two please!
Sourcing beautiful pieces from all over the world, Tribe has made it their mission to bring sustainable, hand made, fair trade products to the homes in the UAE. The materials used in their work includes Rattan, bamboo, hemp, jute, cotton, abacia, raffia, banana plant, palm leaf, wicker, grasses, and wool.
Nothing quite creates a sense of home the way smells do. These 100% organic candles are made from vegetable wax and mixed with pure essential oils will add an amazing fragrance to your home. Neom Candles do not have a UAE online shop but you can get your hand on these pieces from their stores in Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates.