It’s amazing to come across stories across the world of individuals striving to make a difference. And we’ve seen many such on our platform. Our latest is from the Palestine, where Najla via her blog Zero Waste Palestine, shares a personal journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle in a non-zero-waste friendly environment.
She is attempting to raise awareness among people in Palestine and the Middle East on challenges related to climate change and provides tips on measures one could take to live a more sustainable, zero-waste life.
Journey & interest in sustainability
My interest in sustainability started quite early. I grew up in a home valuing conservation behavior and discouraging overconsumption in general. Since a young age, I have been taught to appreciate good quality materials and long-lasting practices, like reusing old clothes that once belonged to my mother and grandmother.
My interest in sustainability was nourished during my university studies when I served as President of the student organization Oikos Lund, which focuses on promoting sustainability in business and economics for students. I started the blog Zero Waste Palestine as a result of a personal frustration I experienced when moving to Palestine one year ago. In Palestine, and the surrounding region in general, problems related to climate change are not commonly known of, and the lack of waste management facilities makes it very difficult to deal with one’s waste and engage in recycling practices. Garbage containers are overfilled with non-separated waste. Streets are very often trashy, filled with disposable plastics, packaging, even furniture and household appliances.
I started thinking of ways of reducing my own waste resulting from daily routines, and decided to blog about it to share this experience with others and in an attempt of spreading awareness about environmental problems and waste issues.
What Zero Waste Palestine is striving to achieve and the experience so far
The blog strives to inspire others to achieve a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle by showcasing simple ways of small behavioral changes that could reduce one’s waste significantly. The content of the posts is adapted to those living in Palestine and the surrounding region, especially considering the absence of proper waste management for households, making it difficult to deal with waste in a proper manner.
The things I write about range from ways of dealing with food waste, to recipes on making your own natural cleaning products. One of my favorite topics to blog about is the sustainable fashion aspect, and how to deal with fashion in a responsible manner. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and produces ridiculous amounts of waste. The challenge here is to find ways of consuming fashion while producing as little waste as possible.
The blogging experience has been great so far. Not only does it allow me to combine two interests of mine, sustainability and photography, but also pushes me to think of innovative ways of reducing waste.
Here’s how you could start off
If you’re keen on adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t always revolve around making compromises.
Start small, try to see where you could easily reduce or eliminate your waste today and do something about it. Once you start with the simple things, you can work your way from there. Adopting a waste reducing approach will even cut your costs. Apart from that, there are a number of health benefits that come along this lifestyle; for example, by making your own beauty products you are avoiding the tons of chemicals that are found in commercial products we buy in stores.
A favorite travel destination and what there stands out in terms of sustainability
In terms of a city, I would go for Gothenburg in Sweden (One Planet Rating readers seem to agree with Najla. Check out the ratings to the city here) . It is a living example of sustainable urban development and is one of the world leaders in sustainable construction, waste management and reusable energy.
Gothenburg is easy to get to by train if you live in Europe. It offers a range of public transportation options, such as trams and busses that could easily take you to anywhere around the city and its outskirts. You could also rent a bike and explore the cozy corners of the city, or why not hop on a boat and explore Gothenburg’s serene archipelago?
You could stay at the Clarion Post Hotel, a leading hotel pushing for sustainable initiatives and implementing a large-scale environmental pledge across its chain of hotels throughout Sweden. On their rooftop garden they grow vegetables and herbs that are later served in meals within their restaurant, along with other locally produced organic food. They even encourage smaller food items and portions for guests to leave less food waste.
If you’re staying for a longer time, you would perhaps like a self-cooked meal; you can go pick your own veggies along the harbor of Gothenburg from Kajodlingen (pictured below). Their initiative has innovatively introduced urban agriculture in the middle of the city.
Walk around and discover a number of second-hand shops in town, and why not enjoy a night out in the city with borrowed clothes from Klädoteket, a clothing library offering a wide range of styles and sized for leasing.
For a more close-to-nature travel experience I would recommend visiting Stedsans in the Woods, a wild outdoor resort and restaurant in the middle of a forest in Sweden. Here you can stay in one of their cabins or shelters, eat fresh organic food grown in their own garden, swim in the lake, use their floating sauna, and just get the chance to mindfully connect with nature.
Seeking sustainable travel adventure?
For a sustainable adventure experience, I would recommend hiking the Jordan Trail, a continuous route crossing the entire country of Jordan, from the Um Qays in the North to the Red Sea in the South. The trail offers over 650 kilometers of trail along eight regions of the country and hiking through diverse terrains and beautiful landscapes. The trail allows you to explore the local culture by meeting with people along the different regions, as well as supporting local small businesses there. The local language in Jordan is Arabic, and many Jordanians in those regions speak English. Jordanian culture is characterized by hospitality and most locals are accustomed to seeing tourists. It is common to be invited into their homes, for a meal or even for an overnight stay.
Check out Baraka Destinations, a firm based in Jordan with a vision of sustainable tourism. Through them you are able to stay at one of their guesthouses surrounded by beautiful scenery of the northern Jordanian villages. You’ll also get the chance to engage in different experiences, like joining a local beekeeper on an adventure through the beehives, or learning how to cook the unique cuisine in a cooking class with a local family.
If you travelling to the Palestine, here’s a must visit
In Palestine, it’s difficult to find a city that has a sustainable city model per se. There is however, the newly built Palestinian Museum, the first certified green building in Palestine.
The museum is located in the village of Birzeit on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. It sets an example on long-term energy sustainability based on international criteria, and has implemented measures that considerably save energy and water consumption. The museum is also surrounded by gardens that contain a wide range of wild and domesticated Palestinian plants.