We can all play our part in a greener future

April 01, 2021
Ghadeer Talal Melibari

Saudi Arabia is going to turn green over the coming decades — literally, with 10 billion trees set to be planted in our communities. But this is just a small part of the big changes to our lifestyles that are aimed at improving the planet for future generations.

When Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman unveiled the Saudi Green Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative, it was a call for all of us to act now to make tomorrow better. Like every country in the world, we are facing a climate emergency, and must do our best to protect our planet. But how can each citizen play their part in making this happen? One way will be helping with the drive to divert 94 percent of waste away from landfill in the coming years.

Of the items we throw away, the most common are food waste, paper, cardboard, plastics, glass and metals. There will undoubtedly be many initiatives to educate people over reusing items, throwing less in the garbage and recycling. Plastics are one the biggest problems — not just in the Kingdom but around the world. Around eight million tons get into the oceans every year, with items such as bottles and straws causing problems to marine life and birds, who mistake them for food.

Plastic bags are another problem and harm turtles who eat them, thinking they’re jellyfish. This is one issue we can help with — by reusing our grocery bags over and over rather than throwing them away. It also surely makes sense that as we plant 10 billion trees, we make efforts to save even more with efforts to increase paper recycling? Globally, about 100,000 are cut down each day, with most of these used to give us material to write on.

There are so many ways we can play our part. Carbon emissions would be cut if people cycled rather than took their cars on short journeys, for example. In cases like this, living greener lives can make us healthier as well as benefiting the planet. Education will be important, not just in schools but in helping adults make informed choices on how they can play their part. Conversations around how we realize Saudi’s greener future have now begun and there will be many developments over the coming months.

As the Crown Prince rightly said in announcing the initiatives, this is only the start of an exciting new chapter. The Kingdom and the region need to go much further and faster in combating climate change, and the government is not going to avoid tough choices. There will be many new opportunities as millions of high quality jobs are created in emerging industries, such as in looking at new ways of creating energy.

Most importantly though, as the Crown Prince said: “Young people, both in the Kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.” He is correct. We have a duty to preserve the planet for all the children in the Kingdom and abroad, as well as for those that will inherit the world that we helped to create.

— Dr. Ghadeer Talal Melibari, holder of PhD in English from University of Hertfordshire, UK, is currently working as Assistant Professor of English teaching at Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah.

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