Running a business such as One Good Thing means we frequently have the opportunity to engage with people who are making a positive impact and whose aims are very much in line with our own. Most recently, this has led to a conversation with Azraq; a non-profit marine conservation organisation recently set up in the region with a focus on marine conservation issues in the United Arab Emirates.
Headed by Natalie Banks who has been in the environmental game for a while now, working with Sea Shepherd in Australia prior to setting up Azraq, the team are focussed on preserving the natural habitats of wildlife in the world’s oceans as well as conserving ecosystems and species. This is so crucial because we are fighting a double-edged battle. Not only are we throwing rubbish into our oceans at an alarming rate, but our activities are upsetting the delicate balance of the ocean ecosystem and removing all of it’s resources at an unsustainable level.
It has been interesting to see where our ideas align, and we are looking forward to seeing the continued positive impact that Azraq makes in the local area as the concept develops.
A Load of Rubbish
We love the fact that Azraq work at a real grassroots level, focusing on local and community activities such as litter picking to tackle problems and raise awareness from the ground up. One issue that they focus on is halting the extinction of endangered marine life. Another of their key projects is beach clean-ups in a bid to reduce “immediate” marine debris as well as raise awareness of the causes of pollution. For example, did you know that cigarette ends make up 30-40% of marine debris cleared from beaches globally?
Azraq and organisations like them are at the forefront of the battle to change all that and with fines of up to 500 AED for people who discard their cigarette butts on local beaches introduced by the authorities in the UAE, we’re pleased to see the problem of plastic pollution and litter is being taken seriously. With 70% of the Earth covered in water, keeping our oceans healthy and preserving their contents should be a priority for all of us.
The Final Straw
Azraq is an organisation that is not afraid to get their hands dirty – and their arrival in Dubai shows that the MENA region is moving towards sustainability and a higher level of consciousness. As the official partners of the #stopsucking campaign in the UAE that launched in February, Azraq are also committed to stainless steel straws and pitching restaurants to remove plastic straws entirely from their orders.
This idea has already been embraced with open arms by restaurant chains and outlets in Dubai including Noodle House, Freedom Pizza, Pitfire Pizza and Reform Social and Grill. With the esteemed Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts also on board, this initiative and its catchy hashtag #stopsucking are certainly being taken seriously.
The #stopsucking campaign has also spurred other local companies to take action. Avani Eco Middle East are helping local F&B brands to make a realistic and sustainable commitment to reducing their plastic pollution by providing 100% plastic-free products made from the cassava plant. It is this type of solution that turns a fad into a habit – whereby individuals and businesses can take on new habits and a plastic-free lifestyle that is realistic to sustain.
It looks like Azraq’s arrival is an ideal – and important – fit into the growing sustainability movement here in the UAE.