How To Have A Sustainable Summer In The UAE

7 mins

Host a zero waste party, teach your children to grow their own fruit and vegetables and take the family on a virtual vacation deep into the Amazon jungle – here comes a sustainable summer

Summer and sustainability may not seem like compatible concepts, especially in the UAE, where cranking up the air-con is necessary when the thermometer starts soaring. Children are driven indoors with less time to play outside, and the inevitable questions arise of how entertain your children when you hear, ‘I’m boooooored!’ for the 17th time since 7am.

While it’s true that living in this part of the world presents a few extra challenges for staying sustainable during the summer months, it’s not impossible. And while it may involve a little more thought to begin with, you’ll soon discover new opportunities that will prompt you and your children to become more thoughtful about their own impact and how to become more eco-friendly. 

By having a sustainable summer it’s a chance to get creative, connect and form stronger bonds with family
and friends – you may even revitalise some old games
or habits that have been half-forgotten or that go back to
your childhood

At its core, a sustainable summer is about using less – even attempting zero waste – and minimising our carbon footprint. And while that might sound boring, we promise it’s not.

By having a sustainable summer it’s a chance to get creative, connect and form stronger bonds with family and friends – you may even revitalise some old games or habits that have been half-forgotten or go back to your childhood. In fact, there’s every chance that your quest to be more planet friendly could lead to a more memorable as well as sustainable summer. Here’s how…

Top Up Your Vitamin D Ethically

kids topping up vitamin D at beach over sustainable summer

Summers in the UAE are hot, hot, hot, but don’t skip the time outdoors. Wake up early, before the mercury is melting, to get outdoors and soak up some sun. 

Spending time in the sunshine is a sustainable activity in more ways than one. It is one of the most effective ways of boosting our Vitamin D, which maintains healthy bones, improves our mood, and can even help prevent cancer. Replenishing this vital nutrient via sunshine is more ethical than getting it from milk (dairy), almonds (which need a lot of water to grow) and certain marine life that has been overfished. Just remember to stay safe in the sun using reef-safe cream that doesn’t contain any nasties or negatively affect marine life.

A recent study in the UAE showed that 90 per cent of the population is vitamin D deficient so baring your skin for half an hour early in the morning could be more than just a choice for sustainability but a positive choice for your family’s health. 

Encourage Little Green Fingers

cute little girl planting vegetables during sustainable summer

Getting outdoors and close to nature may be tough in the UAE summer but don’t let it stop your little ones from learning about planting flowers or vegetables indoors or in the early mornings before the sun becomes too hot. When children get their hands dirty and are invested in growing something from scratch, they begin to care more about the natural world around them. 

Will Bennett, expert gardener and founder of Wilden Design, explains that native plants such as acacia trees, dodonea, Encelia farinose and Bedouin favourite leptandenia are ideal for budding gardeners and little ones as they thrive in low water and poor soil conditions. ‘They’re perfect for a low-impact gardener or (those) into sustainable living,’ he adds.

Teach children how to reuse food waste that is normally thrown in the bin to make compost to help their plants, fruit or vegetables grow. Eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peel, tea bags and even pasta will all nourish the soil. 

Make it fun by creating a colourful chart to stick on the fridge to track what can be used for compost and what can’t, making a link between consumption and reuse/recycling. You can add a space where the children can colour in the scraps that have gone in the compost bin that day, adding to their ‘plant food’.

Host A Sustainable Summer Party

Play dates, birthdays, engagements: the summer months are a good excuse for a party whether they are outdoors or, in the UAE, indoors. But wherever they are, these gatherings can often usually create mounds of unnecessary waste that can’t be recycled. If you put a little planning into your event, you can make it zero waste.

For casual get-togethers, it’s fine to send out invites with a simple message on WhatsApp. If it’s a more formal affair, why not design some invitations on Canva? If you have a design-minded teen at home, they’ll probably be happy to help! E-invites save on paper and waste.

Most party decorations aren’t usually designed with the environment in mind. In general, balloons should be avoided, unless you can find Japanese paper balloons (kamifusen) that deflate and can be inflated for use another time. Rent decorations or reuse old ones and get crafty – making your own bunting is fun and kids will love making paper chains and other eco-friendly decorations. 

The menu for a sustainable summer party can be tricky. Ideally you should aim for an entirely plant-based or vegan spread, though this may not be popular with some guests. Check out our zero waste, vegan and veggie recipes – there’s even delicious tutti fruitti ice cream made with leftover food scraps – that can be made in advance (and with the kids’ help). 

Don’t use plastic plates or cutlery. It’s better to go in the dishwasher than the bin. If you need to borrow extra, ask a friend or use a service like Borrow Me (where you can also find extra chairs, tables, lights for borrowing and rental).

Screen-Free Summer

playing monopoly board game

Every parents knows that electronics are a necessity – for short bursts – at times, particularly when it feels too hot to do anything outside. However, it’s also too easy to spend endless hours consuming mindless programmes or playing games.

It’s often overlooked that in order to supply the vast amounts of data flowing across our devices, carbon-based fossil fuels must be burned. Therefore, limiting our use of these devices reduces this demand while helping lower our children’s reliance on tech to keep themselves amused.

When it’s not feasible to play in the pool/paddling pool outside, whip out some board games for some old-fashioned fun during a sustainable summer. These never fail to interest children (of all ages) and fosters skills like communication and teamwork.

Some of the top board games that never grow old include:

  • Monopoly
  • The Game of Life
  • Hungry Hippos
  • Guess Who
  • Scattergories
  • Jenga
  • Twister
  • Operation

If you haven’t any of these in the house, you’re sure to find some on Dubizzle. And according to clinical psychologist and author Dr Emily Edlynn ‘families who play games together have more open communication and a stronger sense of togetherness.’ Strengthening your family relationships creates sustainability in your life, too!

Make Popsicles

homemade watermelon popsicles

When it’s sweltering and you need some extra refreshment, avoid the urge to drive to Spinneys and pick up ice-pops filled with sugar and covered in plastic. Instead whip up a tasty, eco-friendly cooler with home made popsicles. Throw some fresh fruit and water in the blender, add some agave syrup or a plant-based milk and blend together. Then pour into some moulds and freeze. If you’re out of moulds or can’t wait for the mixture to freeze, add ice, give it another whizz and enjoy a chilled smoothie.

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