Upon the request of a representative from Gulf News I wrote the below on 10 July 2019. It was supposed to be published on 15 July 2019 but it never was, and I didn’t hear back from the representative until I sent two inquiring e-mails, one on 17 July and one today. The response: “I apologise for taking your time but the report you had sent went through an editorial screening and it was decided that we will not be publishing it.”
Below is what I wrote. Screen it for me.
When I read the news that Dubai Airport was going to ban single use plastics from its consumer spaces by January 2020, I was unmoved. Usually when its Earth Hour, Earth Day or World Environment Day I choose to wear a clam shell and hibernate (figuratively speaking of course). The reason is that I have been disappointed so many times before with promises and declarations that are done to make businesses look good. Will Dubai Airport ban single use plastic water bottles from its grounds or provide drinking water fountains to those of us who like to avoid single use disposables?
There is no reason for anyone to go to an airport unless they are picking someone up or flying themselves, or at least that’s the norm. But on June 25 I visited the airport for fun (actually I arranged to meet with somebody who works there but they cancelled on me last minute and I had already made the trip). Because the Airport’s press release was on my mind I proceeded to document some of the single use plastic around. I took pictures of bottled drink offerings at the Duty Free outlets and vending machines, Grab and Go meals at the airport Spinneys and plastic wrapped baggage fresh from the airport’s baggage wrapping service. I take a lot of pictures, everywhere. But I do it also because I like to follow up on sustainability promises made by local businesses, if anything, because I like to be an environmentally responsible member of the community. Are my efforts being appreciated? The feedback I have been receiving so far is that I am a pain in the behind.
Earlier this week I was invited to a hotel I had tagged in an Instagram post which questioned their use of bottled water for their meeting room coffee machine. “We are a green hotel,” maintained the hotel’s Events Manager. The Marketing Manager then proceeded to explain operational constraints for the use of an alternative to single use plastic bottled water in the guest rooms and that they had partnered with an artist who proclaims herself to be an environmentalist. Little did he know that I had made a post about that artist wondering why it was OK for her to use 60,000 virgin straws for what she maintained was an upcycled artwork. Costa Coffee had apparently commissioned her artwork because they planned to stop the use of plastic straws in their Dubai Airport location by January 2020. There was no similar declaration for the rest of the coffee chain’s locations across the UAE, which begged the question of why the straws were not simply diverted for use by the other outlets.
The day before, while I was at a mall collecting used cutlery from the food court diners with a friend for the “#upcycledforky” meetup I had announced earlier that week (yes, we approached diners at the end of their meal and asked for their used cutlery), I checked the Instagram account to find a response from another hotel’s Marine and Environment Manager. The Manager was telling me off for making an Instagram post about their hotel. This is not what I was expecting from a Marine Biologist, who as she proclaims, likes turtles. I had made a post about the hotel’s sponsored ad in which she promotes the hotel’s use of PLA straws as environmentally friendly. Before I made the post I had commented on the ad but received no reply for five days and the post was not removed from the hotel’s page until I had made my post. It worked.
On July 1st I made a post about Disney’s Toy Story 4 character Forky, then wrote and self-published an article on how knowing what I now know about recycling and waste management made me appreciate the fact that a child could care so much for “trash.” I also mentioned how ironic it was that a day after I watched the movie, a child walked past me in the mall holding a plastic packaged Forky toy from the toy store. On July 4 news came out that Dubai Airports had partnered with Disney Middle East to have craft stations at different locations within the airport where kids can make their own Forky. Matt Horobin, Dubai Airport’s Director of Brand Engagement maintained that this was a way to show their “younger customers [ ] how important it is to be mindful of what we consider trash.”
Today, as it so happens, Disney issued a recall for a Toy Story 4 plush Forky toy because the toy’s plastic eyes could detach and become a choking hazard. When is Disney ever going to be mindful of what is destined to be landfill trash?
And when will sustainability initiatives be fluff free?
On 10 July I also received below.