By Ashwatha Mahesh
American University of Sharjah (AUS)’s Sustainability division organized a “Recycling is Rewarding” campaign this month to raise awareness about the environmental impact of single-use plastic bottles and to encourage the community to adopt more sustainable practices.
The United Arab Emirates has an average individual consumption of 450 plastic bottles per person per year. A recent study conducted by Bee’ah, an integrated environment and waste management company which is headquartered in Sharjah, revealed that a large number of plastic bottles end up in landfills while recycling plants are being underutilized. This campaign was aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste sent to landfills by making recycling a habit and providing an environmentally friendly solution to address the issue of high plastic bottle usage.
The plastic bottles collection event was held on Monday, October 17, 2016 at the American University of Sharjah Student Center from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Members of the AUS community were invited to bring plastic bottles and deposit them in designated collection containers. With every 10 plastic bottles collected, AUS Sustainability gave out one reusable AUS- branded water bottle to the participants. The event was popular with students, and staff and faculty participated as well. A total of 4,426 plastic bottles were collected by the end of the event, which is almost three times the original target of collecting 1,500 bottles. AUS Sustainability hopes this campaign will inspire campus community members to change to reusable bottles in their daily lives and to make recycling part of their lifestyle.
This is not the first time the AUS community has coherently worked together towards achieving sustainable goals. Last year AUS won a top spot in the Toner Campaign Collection among academic institutions in Emirates Environmental Group’s (EEG) One Root, One Communi-Tree Competition in the UAE. The university collected 949 printer cartridges during the competition as was awarded two tree to be planted in its name. In EEG’s the mobile phone collection campaign, AUS was in the top 10 performers with a collection of 124 mobile phones, and an additional tree was planted in the university’s name.
Earlier this year, AUS Sustainability conducted AUS Energy Awareness Month, which included an energy reduction competition in the university’s dorms to help raise awareness among students about personal energy consumption and to improve energy efficiency in all AUS dormitories. Similarly, there was a successful plastic bag collection campaign last year, with a reusable AUS bag provided for every 10 plastic bags deposited by a participant. The resulting plastic bags formed a line of 300 meters and was subsequently turned into a beautiful art piece that is permanently on display in the Campus Service Center building.
American University of Sharjah is aiming to get an international environmental certification, ISO14001, to endorse its environmental management system and the sustainability progress the university has achieved so far.
AUS Sustainability would like to thank all AUS participants for their commitment towards a greener and more sustainable future. We would also like to congratulate and appreciate the special efforts of students Mohamed Ayman Hayes, Mansur Jumabayev and Mohammad Ayman Arafeh, as well as staff members Medelyn Marasigan, Saeed Al Shamsi, Rasha Salman and Vincent Mani, who collected more than 150 plastic bottles each.
We encourage the whole American University of Sharjah community to continue recycling on a regular basis by using the recycling bins placed around campus or the bigger recycling cages placed near the Sports Complex, helping us to reduce our environmental impact and footprint.
Ashwatha Mahesh is a Part Time Administrative Coordinator at the Sustainability division of the American University of Sharjah.
Visit www.aus.edu for more information about American University of Sharjah.