Tell us about yourself.
My name is Zeina AlHashmi, and I am a passionate sustainability specialist and an active environmentalist. With a chemical engineering background, I began my career as an environmental advisor, tackling complex issues such as industrial waste management and environmental compliance. As my experience grew, so did my passion for sustainability, and I have since progressed to focus on developing ESG strategies to drive improvements in sustainability performance on a corporate level.
What motivated you to shift to being eco-friendly?
As an industrial sustainability specialist, I soon realized that practicing what I preached was equally important in my personal life. I began paying attention to my personal environmental footprint, and I quickly realized that waste management is one of the most tangible and controllable parts of an individual’s impact on the environment. It became apparent that there is no such thing as “throw-away,” and that our waste often ends up damaging our environment. Thus, I decided to use my experience to raise awareness about low-waste living and conscious consumerism.
The main things you do to be eco-friendly
- I believe that small shifts and changes can result in significant impacts, and so I focus on educating individuals and communities about the ease of low-waste living.
- I choose sustainable alternatives for most of my daily consumption, such as shampoo and conditioner bars, soap bars, bamboo toilet tissue, and reusable kitchen cloths.
- I have switched to eco friendly cleaning products which mostly means using vinegar & citrus peels and baking soda
- I buy groceries using my reusable, refillable containers. Where I can’t avoid packaging, I recycle almost everything, even more now with the availability of recycling home services in the UAE.
- I use as much of my food as possible…have you ever tried air frying potato peels?! Yum! Also, I taught myself how to keep products fresh for longer and to compost what is wasted.
- I have cut out single-use water bottles completely, carry my own reusable bottle, cutlery and bags almost everywhere I go.
Your easiest eco -friendly swaps
My easiest eco-friendly swap was completely eliminating single use water bottles. My personal favorites swaps have been the ones I made in my daily beauty and hygiene products such as shampoo and conditioner bars, soap bars, and coconut oil for makeup remover, period underwear, reusable facial rounds, tooth tabs, etc. These eco-friendly alternatives are readily available and make a considerable difference.
As I mom, the easiest eco friendly swaps for my household was buying groceries in bulk and package free. You would be surprised by the amount of goods that can be bought package free, just to name a few this includes almost all fruits and vegetables, oats, nuts, seeds, rice, peanut, and almond butter, honey, cheese, olives, and bread.
What makes it hard for you to be eco-friendly?
As a working mom of two boys, time is not always on my side.
Some challenges included:
- Teaching my kids to appreciate the value of quality products over cheap plastic toys, which is not so easy given the market abundance of tempting offers everywhere we go.
- Not being able to successfully swap disposable diapers reusable cloth nappies.
How do you plan on continuing your sustainability journey? What other aspects do you plan to change?
I am about to finish my master’s in Sustainability Leadership, and I intend to get an official environmental consultancy license and certification as a waste specialist. I plan to use my growing knowledge and experience to grow my influencing reach and educate individuals and communities about the effects of our consumption and the ease of low-waste living. I enjoy doing this by organizing interactive cleanups around the city, and I plan to continue doing so to inspire behavioral change.