Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eco Tourism in Goa

It is that time of year again, when weather in most of India is great and we love to visit our family and see some of Incredible India!

Our tickets are booked for December and luckily we are touching Goa even this year. It reminded us our last year vacation in Goa at around same time. Goa is a popular vacation spot internationally famous for beaches & nightlife. But travelling with toddler doesn't allow much of night life, so our Goa tourism involved lot of eco-tourism and we were totally satisfied about it. Rather this part of Goa sightseeing is still off the beaten and picking up popularity locally and internationally.

Elephants in Sahakari Spice Farm
Clockwise- Black pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Chilies
The best of our trip was visiting Sahakari Spice Farm in Ponda. Being Indians we love using spices in our food, but never knew much about where they come from. So it was a great delight to take educational tour to know more about spices. I didn't even know that Indian bay leaf comes from cinnamon tree. One of the big attraction for my son in spice farm was elephants. They have kept few elephants, you can also bath them in the stream flows through the farm. At the end of our spice farm tour, we had the most tasty spicy meal in Goa!

I would highly recommend visit to this spice farm, it's educational and fun. Their trained staff tell us lot of interesting facts about spices. And you get to go up close with these fresh spices, you don't even recognize them.

Rest of our days obviously we relaxed on beaches, played in sand, collected lots of shells and soaked in waters. Saw lots of interesting insects, fishes, starfishes and what not. When you don't have to worry about time, it's so much fun to observe small insects with your kids and go behind them.

Sun, Sand and much more...
To add some thrill, one day we decided to walk to the end of beach and explore other side of the small stream meeting sea on that beach.
The stream we crossed & hiked the hill, Dead sweet-water fish
As we came near the stream, we saw lot of fishes were lying dead on beach. Obviously they were sweet water fish from the stream. As soon as they enter salt water of sea, they don't know how to survive and once they are dead they are washed on shore. We also saw tiny fish in stream swimming opposite the water at the mouth of stream. They were struggling hard to save their life but were not moving much. We crossed the stream through knee high water, there was little force of water, but we felt great when we reached other side of stream. We walked the hill till we reach a point where we did not find it safe to walk with our son in arms. So we returned back. But seeing the busy beach from this peaceful and secluded side was interesting.

Goa is a fun place, but there are so many interesting things there which are still to be explored. We decided to do that in our next trip. So this time, we are going to stay on a farm, not exactly in Goa but very close to it. And I promise this time I won't take a year to write about it ;-).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Guavapass Giveaways- Gifts from Sustainability Fair

Hi readers, I am glad to announce that Green Living in Dubai has brought gifts for our readers from Dubai Sustainability Fair held last Friday, thanks to GuavaPass!

What Giveaway winners will get?
  • GuavaPass has very generously offered passes for 2 weeks of unlimited fitness classes across Dubai for TWO of our lucky readers. In this pass you can get access to hundreds of workout options including yoga, cycling, boot camp, pilates, crossfit, dance, martial art and much more.
  • A really special rate of AED 349/month (compared to their normal rate of AED 449/month) for first 12 months
  • You don't have to sign up for the 12 months in advance; the pass auto-renews each month and  pay as you go. You can always stop the payment though.

This way, we are promoting 'Healthy Sustainable Living'. I have just started taking different fitness classes, which otherwise I haven't even thought of trying. And believe me it's not just fitness, it's very enjoyable too. This fun part keeps one motivated to do workout regularly, at least in my case. :)

GuavaPass is online platform that has just landed in Dubai, giving members access to community of premium fitness studios and healthy-living experts. Founded in Singapore by team of passionate entrepreneurs GuavaPass was created to change the way people pursue healthy living.  Once members joins they remain part of the community even when they travel, having access to thousands of classes across Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Australia and now Middle East.

To enter in the draw to stand chance to win 2 weeks GuavaPass, all we are asking is send us some love in return!

To be eligible to win this giveaway complete these 3 steps.

Step 1:
Follow GuavaPass on Instagram/ Like their Facebook page

Step 2:
Follow Green Living in Dubai on Instagram and/or Twitter
Share our Facebook page on your wall. 
Comment on this post with your name. Don't forget this step, we need your name to announce the winners :).

Two lucky winners will be announced in next week on 4th November. Good Luck!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dubai's Sustainability Fair

Last Friday Green Living in Dubai attended Dubai's first Sustainability Fair as one of the official blogger of the event. Here is special post for our readers.

Sustainability fair with a beautiful tagline 'Let's sustain sustainability' was hosted by Dubai Chamber of commerce and Muse Dubai at Dubai garden center, (one of my favorite place to visit, when I miss lush greenery). As a sustainability professional, Dubai Chamber of commerce is that one organization I have deep respect, for their sustainability policy, leadership and implementation. They are one of a great example of how to incorporate elements of sustainability in region.

So when I came to know about this fair hosted by them I was more than happy to get involved. Muse Dubai arranged the event very creatively inviting sustainable businesses and social organizations across Dubai for the fair.

There were fun activities and eco friendly workshops for kids and adults like pottery making by Ideyna, hula hoop, Dubai drums making it a very enjoyable friday evening for everyone. Social Organizations like Al Noor Training Center, SNF Development center, Enable, Manzil center had put their stalls to sell beautiful things handmade by special needs people.

One can be stylish, while living sustainable! To prove this Eco friendly fashion companies in UAE like innovative Bye Bye Rascal who make jewelry out of Vietnam War era bombs, Wildwood who make eco friendly sunglasses, Baembu who make tee shirts out of bamboo, Future fashion which is one place to buy sustainable fashion brand from around the world, Toms were selling their products in fair.

Guavapass and Organic foods and cafe were there to promote healthy living and healthy eating. My favorite eco store, The change Initiative had their stall selling everything sustainable.

Social, Economic and Environment these are three pillars of 'Sustainable Living'. And three of them were present in first edition of The Sustainability Fair! Organizers promised to return with second edition of the fair next year even bigger and better.

Check out our Instagram for more photos.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Preschool Learn and Play- Eco Friendly Way

As my son is growing older, he is demanding more engaging play time. I keep finding different ways to entertain him through which he can also learn things and won't loose his interest too soon in the activity.

I make sure these fun learning activities will make my preschooler eco aware too. Here are few such activities we do regularly.

Firstly when we go outdoors, even if  it is the outdoor landscape area around our building I let my boy explore nature surrounding him. Let him pick up leaves, collect stones, run behind birds. His clothes get dirty sometimes, but I let him select his natural toy instead of carrying toys when we go outdoors. He has learnt singing 'twinkle twinkle little star' by watching stars most of the evenings last winter.
It is beautiful to watch when he is mindful of ants queuing in park. He even talked to them few things and said bye to them :)
Stamping with vegetables
Learning numbers
  • Colouring: All kids love to play with colours. But instead of giving him drawings to fill up colours all the time, I prefer giving him blank papers and let his imagination fly freely. Colouring with fingers is messy but fun and they get to explore the texture as well. I always select toxic free colours and then we use vegetables like okra, potato, carrot, onion for stamping.
  • Learning numbers: My son loves to collect stones and dry sticks from outdoors. We always let him play with it. When he brings those stones and sticks and other natural toys I store them and let him lay with them even at home. He loves to learning counting of numbers with stones specially.
  • Music: we create music out of anything, though it can get noisy sometimes but it develops creativity in kids. Ruhaan loves making music out of his green toys like stones and using dry sticks on drum.
  • Learning colours and shapes: To do this best way is to go outdoors. From my experience, Kids learn fast the colours of tree, sky, flowers etc than what they see in books.
  • Creating art: All children love sticking activity. To create art, first we visit outdoors, park, beach and collect natural collectibles like feathers of birds, dried leaves and flowers etc. Then all do is give him glue stick, blank paper and all his collectibles. He loves to stick them on paper and creates art from his imagination.
Collage out of natural collectibles
I am sure most of the readers must have remembered their childhood after reading this. We were exposed to nature more than our kids in this digital era. So it is more important now that we motivate our children to play outdoors more, or let them play with natural items than just dumping them with iPads, do you agree?


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Global March Againast Extiction in Dubai

This Saturday, on 3rd October we been to this event, 'Families march Against Extinction' organized by Rhino Conservation Dubai at Kings School. Same time (Oct 3rd and 4th) people throughout the world to be precise from 136 cities globally marched as once voice against extinction.

More than 36,000 elephants are being killed every year so their tusks can be carved into ivory trinkets. A rhino is slaughtered once every 6 hours for its horn. If this continues within the next decade our two largest land mammals will only remain in captivity.

The march arranged at Kings Dubai was the only march in entire Middle East! Everyone came wearing black or white in empathy with rhinos. There were lot of activities for families and mainly children attending the march. One of it was banner for the march.

There was also decorate a rhino competition. Students from their primary school made cut outs of 797 rhinos representing 797 rhinos lost in South Africa this year. Children attending this march decorated them creatively. It was very educational activity, as my son can now always remember how rhino looks and "there can not be a rhino without it's horn". A big message! isn't it? After decorating rhinos they were placed in Africa shaped yard, where they belong.

Patsy Stagman of Rhino Conservation Dubai, told her in speech the actual situation of this issue. Kruger National Park in South Africa which is home of 78% of planets remaining rhinos has 12 poaching gangs, with only 50 rangers to night patrol 6,000 square miles. Horn poached reaches Hanoi within 30 hours and we live in between two! If our generation don't take action now, our children might not inherit wildlife in Africa and Asia.

But as a hope Airlines, shipping lines and airports are starting to close up the trade routes. Emirates airlines are would leader in this issue. Education in Vietnam and China might be impacting the demand at last. Result of media attention and celebrating promoting the cause; sentences for poaching and wildlife trafficking are increasing.

The enthusiastic crowd at march, was a great example how people relate themselves to this crisis. Parents supporting and helping their children in taking part in activities at march, as well as awareness and creativity in children both was equally appreciable.

We couldn't help but buy a beautiful handmade crochet rhino from the stalls at the march. The proceedings from the sale went in developing Rhino Revolution facility in South Africa. This facility will be soon be functional and will take care of orphaned calves and rhinos.

We definitely are going to take part in next march and are determined to find more ways to get involved in this cause more actively. Hope to see you there next year!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A morning spent in Creek Park

Hi readers, it's been a while I didn't write my new post. My son started nursery last month, it took me a while to enjoy my free time without thinking of him :). Finally today on first day of new month, I could spend a great morning alone at Creekpark, as weather is getting better. Walking barefoot on grass without any bag on shoulder or having to run behind the little man. Taking a easy stroll on my pace, taking in the surrounding without a worry that I might lost my runner if I don't keep watch on him.

I realized how much I missed my me-time in past few years. But of course on the other hand my mind was making a list of what activities me and my son can do next time we are in park :). But when I sat down under the shade of a tree, listening to chirping birds; the sustainability professional in me started wondering how much water consumption of this park must be for a day in peak summer? These parks and green areas in UAE are great new habitat for birds, you almost forget you are in dessert. But the load on water desalination in terms of energy must be unimaginably high. That lush green grass, which we love to walk on, is it worth spending that much water or energy?
Creek Park, Men At Work, Natural Goodies gathered for my son

Of course there are local trees and flora fauna used in parks like Ghaf trees etc. But for aesthetic reasons are not widely used. They don't even provide a wide shade, which you would require in parks functionally. I came across a park maintenance supervisor who was cutting branches for maintenance purpose. When I talked to him about it. He told me few days back because of some technical issues irrigation water was cut off in the park. When I asked him, did these trees and flower started drying? He told me large trees are not affected if there is no irrigation for few days. but grass and flowing bushes started drying. From that conversation I felt, why don't Dubai municipality save water by not watering large trees every day? Of course I am not saying they are overwatering, but if trees can sustain, it is worth trying. But water consumption for grass is definitely higher than these trees and something has to be done for that, is what I feel sincerely.

In sustainable development (green buildings) principles there is attention given to things like water consumption of landscape areas, selection of the species of flora and fauna depending on their water demands. But there are no such regulations for parks as of now. May be Dubai government can take initiative and start a good practice for " developed parks in desserts and managing their water demands".

After a good food for brain and a serene time for myself I gathered few natural goodies like feathers, dried leaves of different shapes, dried flowers and sticks for my son. And just when I was about to leave the park spotted my favorite a blue winged Indian roller!

When you go outdoors, you feel happier!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

1000 Fans Celebration Giveaway!

We picked up these natural souvenirs during our travels
Our Blog page on Facebook has reached 1000+ likes! Thank all our readers 1000 times for taking interest in the cause we believe, reading our posts, sharing your thoughts and being with us all these years!

To celebrate our number of fans reaching 1000+; we are giving away an 'Eco-Friendly Goodie Bag' to one lucky reader. Which includes Trendy recycled shopping bag, Wooden craft kit for kids, Small bag of natural skincare products, 'Love' bracelet and a treat box hand-made with love!
This way we are sending our Love and Thank You!
Eco Friendly Goodie Bag Giveaway

If you want to stand chance to win this 'Eco-Friendly Goodie Bag', You need to comment on any of the post /article on this blog and leave your name and email id. You can choose any of your favorite post published in past 6 years and comment or just express your opinion on the topic of that post.
We will announce and contact one lucky winner on 15th Sept.

All the best!!! We would love to hear from you....

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mangrove Plantation- A great way to offset carbon emmissions

Mangroves are UAE's the most bio diverse geographical feature. In past, locals depend on mangroves for food and wood (for fire, construction material etc). Even marine life is dependent on it, fish population cultivate in mangroves and once they are old enough, fish venture into oceans. Mangroves provide habitat to many animal species. Mangroves protect coast from erosion and tidal waves. Recently it is found out that mangroves hold 3-5 times as much carbon‬ as the same area of rainforest! So mangroves help to reduce global warming.
Read more to know more about UAE's mangroves.
Dubai Mangrove Planting Event

Last week when I came to know about mangrove planting event in Dubai, I grabbed the opportunity. I have planted trees before many time, but it was my first mangrove plantation experience.
The event was organized by EMEG (Emirates Marine Environmental Group) and PATT foundation.

As we all arrived at EMEG Ghantoot reserve, where we could see mangroves around us and ocean at short distance, we were all transported to plantation site. After demonstration we were ready to plant 1 year old Avicennia Marina, a species of mangrove tree in silky sand under water in mangrove. We were told to plant the shrubs at least 1 meter apart. By digging the silk sand, inserting the roots, covering and then pressing it to fix it, that was all that easy. The group planted total 1000 plants. Luckily there was breeze coming from sea so it was not very hot that afternoon.
Mud Crabs
During planting we came across mud crabs, those were tiny cute things, when they crawl on your hands it tickles. Hannah from EMEG told us about mangrove crabs, which can climb on mangrove tree. There were other insects and worms too. No doubt mangroves are habitat for birds too. Mangroves are a natural habitat for 75% of all tropical juvenile commercial fish species. Though the planting mangroves was little messy activity, it was great fun. This definitely is a great educational eco-activities for families.

Avicennia Marina is also known as gray mangrove. Their aerial roots allow the plant to absorb oxygen, which is deficient in its habitat. It has very high saline tolerance as well as high sun, wind, pest and disease tolerance. It means these mangrove plants don't need fresh water or irrigation, or any maintenance; natural salty sea water is sufficient for them to thrive.
Avicennia Marina
Avicennia Marina captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and stores them as carbon. This process is called carbon sequestration, and it helps control global warming by reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Therefore mangroves act as Carbon Sink! These carbon storing mangroves (whole system of plants, water body, soil) are also called as Blue Carbon Ecosystems. Abu Dhabi's Environmental Agency has demonstrated building a Blue Carbon project.

UAE is blessed with many khors- lagoons, marshes and mangroves. Some of them are developed or damaged or relocated and some of them are conserved. Mangroves are not only beneficial to keep the balance of local ecosystem but also to reduce carbon footprint of UAE, this prompts the need to plant more and more mangroves and arrange many such events.

After planting 1000 mangroves

Monday, August 17, 2015

Eco friendly Forever Living products

Hello my readers! In my quest of finding eco-friendly products I came across Forever Living products. Sometime back I wrote review of Forever Living's Aloe Vera Gelly and listed it in our Green Directory, today I am going to share about other products of Forever Living which are eco-friendly and equally useful.

Biodegradable Multipurpose Detergent

One of the most eco friendly product is Multipurpose Detergent (MPD). It can be used for washing pets, clothes, dishes, car, floor, carpet, bathroom etc. This detergent contains no phosphorus and is biodegradable i.e broken down by natural processes, thus reducing pollution in our waterways. This is gentle on hand and cleans clothes, dishes etc very well. It comes in concentrate, so we need to dilute it according to their instructions and can use 1 bottle for more than a month. I even tried it to remove grease stains and it worked well. I would definitely recommend this specially to wash children and baby clothes as their skin is sensitive and residual of harmful chemicals can cause reaction to their soft skin.

The other Forever Living products, which I tried are not as close to natural form of aloe vera as Aloe Vera Gelly. But they are non toxic and I had such great experience using them that I will share it with you anyway.

Aloe Propolis creme was equally good too. It worked well on my dry skin as moisturizer and a rash. I would highly recommend this cream. I also used this as moisturizer and diaper rash cream for my son and saw good result without any adverse effect on his skin.

Biodegradable Soap and Shampoo
The Ph- balanced Aloe Jojoba shampoo and conditioner, pleasantly fragrant Aloe Hand and Face Soap were very gentle on skin and you definitely feel pampered and it is biodegradable too. I never came across a product which is great quality, luxury and eco-friendly at the same time.
The Aloe makeup remover is oil free and gentle, leaves your skin non-irritated. In my opinion, you just need to use it generously.

Forever Living have many more Aloe Vera and Bee Propolis based products. The products I tried were non toxic, gentle on skin and mainly eco-friendly. I had such great experience using them that I am now registered and independent distributer of Forever Living products. If you are interested in knowing more about these products or want to order them in UAE please like FB page and feel free to contact.

I am currently building a forever living team here in UAE so if you are interested in legal home based business either part time or full time then contact me for more info. Otherwise just keep reading Green Living in Dubai ;-).

Forever Living Products

Monday, July 27, 2015

Growing wildlife at Dubai's Al Quadra Lakes

In attempt of spending a weekend evening outdoors in Dubai's harsh summer, we decided to explore Al Quadra Lakes and glad we did that. Al Quadra lakes are manmade 4-5 lakes in middle of dessert surrounded by planted local trees. But results of these local government efforts are stunning. It is one of the best example of creating natural habitat. According to sustainable development principles, if we need to disturb any natural habitat, we need to create almost double the size of natural habitats to keep the balance in nature. Once we create this natural habitat, flora fauna start growing there and local birds, animals start thriving on it. and the natural biodiversity cycle starts again in a place where there was no significant life before.

When we reached near Al Quadra Lakes, first glimpse of growing wildlife was a running and jumping gazelle! It was amazing to see this beautiful local animal in wild. I have always seen gazelle in captivity before. But in wild it ran very fast and far away. It jumped high in air few times and ran farther. We did not expect this so couldn't catch this moment in our phone camera but it was a moment to remember, feast for our eyes!

The waters in lake were clean and clear. Tilapia fish are released in water to attract fish eating birds in turn, provide their faeces as organic manure to the lake water. Thus, many planktons, zooplanktons and insect larvae grow in the lake water, making this attractive to many migratory as well as resident birds.

Ducks who made these lakes their home, was a great attraction for kids. Next time we need to bring bread with us for duck feeding, Ruhaan would love this activity. Their were lot of dog owner and their dogs were enjoying swim in waters to cool down in summer. This definitely a great place to play in water, making sure that we not leaving any of our traces like garbage behind. In such places, everyone should carry their garbage back to city or to the mosque next to Al quadra lakes, where their is garbage disposal facility. There is cycle track near lakes, which is very popular. Or if you want to take a walk around all lakes it can take almost an hour.

We spotted many different birds on lake, this is a great new spot for bird watching. Lauging dove, pigeons, sandpiper, Red wattled lapwing were amongst the birds which we spotted. There were also huge falcon like large winged birds, but we could see them properly after sunset. But the great thing was weather was less humid, as it's away from coast and there was constant breeze around sunset. So it was feeling good outside. As this place is away from residential area, it is also a great spot for sky watching. The sky was clearer than cities (because of lack of light pollution).
On the way back we were lucky to spot the gazelle again, this time it was complete dark but the gazelles eyes were shining like two bright stars on Earth! We could see it's figure clearly, this time it didn't run or jump but just looked at our car in alert. We stopped, not to disturb it and it vanished in second. No surprise! because some gazelle are able to run at bursts as high as 60 mph (97 km/h), or run at a sustained speed of 30 mph (48 km/h).

I am sure we'll go there again and hope next time we can see addition to existing biodiversity!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Story of our trip to Sustainable Switzerland

Recently we been to our summer vacation in Switzerland! The dream land of Alps, snow, waterfalls, glacier water, wildflowers, cheese, chocolates! Everybody knows the natural beauty of Switzerland.

The moment our plane started landing in Zurich I could actually see, how sustainable Switzerland is. You get to see many roofs of homes covered in solar PV cells. This has to be the most sustainable country amongst all countries I have visited in my life.

The water in Switzerland is heavenly. The best thing we loved about water here is, there are many
drinking water fountains in middle of busy roads in cities and also everywhere in small villages of country sides. And you can drink this water and it tastes heavenly, fresh, chilled and with lot of natural minerals.

Water fountain, Staubbach fall, Lake Lucerne, stream from lake
Compared to other countries, Switzerland has over-averagely large water reserves to fall back on with its many lakes, glaciers and naturally groundwater. Solely 2% of annual rainfall makes its way into drinking water reserves. The majority of water is collected in artificial lakes and dams from which electricity is generated. More than half of the electricity produced in Switzerland stems from these sources – in other words it’s renewable energy and CO2-free at the same time!

80 percent of drinking water stems from natural springs and groundwater, and the rest from lakes. Strict regulations concerning water and the quality of it have led to such positive development that, in some places, you can drink straight out the lake without second thoughts!

In the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland,  we could see how this water, melted from glaciers, flows down the mountains creating numerous beautiful waterfalls (72 nos. in Lauterbrunnen valley, where we stayed). My paragliding pilot told me that the beautiful cyan color of water comes from the minerals.

There is hardly any water pollution in water bodies in Switzerland. Every lake, river, stream we saw had such clear water, it felt almost unreal.
It's not a toy train :)

The fantastic network of public transport (mainly trains) contribute to make this country very clean and pollution free. Unlike many countries even in cities you can breathe the freshest air. We came to know that Zurich has only 22 taxies in total!!! This shows how public transport make people rely on it. According to; on the roughly 3,000-kilometer-long SBB railway network a total 9,000 trains are underway daily. In fact, every 12 minutes a train runs over one of Switzerland’s rail routes. The entire 5000 kilometer-long national and regional rail network is, in addition, practically all electrified. The trains thus run through 671 tunnels and over 6000 railway bridges at minimal cost to the environment.
And of course there are many car free villages all over Switzerland like Zurich old town, Appenzell town, Murren-Gimmelwald, St. Gallen.

Campanula, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Teasel, Unknown Wildflower (clockwise)

Fitness conscious Swiss people cycle and walk a lot. They live in most beautiful part of our Nature and they live very close to Nature, (the epitome of sustainable living). During our hikes we went through funny situations because the fitness level of average Swiss person is so high that hike times mentioned for them almost doubled for us. It also reminded us how sedentary lifestyle we lead in UAE.

Swiss people are generally particular people so no surprise to see that there are segregation bins kept
for recycling, everywhere - on train station, throughout cities and even in small towns in the Alps. More importantly, these bins were filled with right recyclables in it. I have seen in Dubai, many residents don't throw the recyclables in right bin (you get to see PET in General waste and Aluminum cans in plastics). We visited Zoo Zurich and even there we could see their large in-house facility for recycling. According to statistics, 94% of old glass and 81% of PET containers make their way to special collection points instead of household bins. This is definitely a great thing we all can learn from Swiss people. Though the systems here in Switzerland are perfect, but because of particular common people these systems are running smoothly.

Solar Power
Another amazing thing I observed is; solar power is well established thing in Switzerland. Individual houses had Solar PV and solar thermal installations on their roofs. Even on Jungfrau, the tallest mountain of Europe; I spotted installed solar panels!

To make our vacation in sustainable Switzerland even greener, we travelled on our own by public transport all the time and walked, hiked whenever we can. We introduced hiking to Ruhaan, I felt 2.5 year is great age to start exploring. He enjoyed that a lot, he used to tell us how he's climbing mountain and naming different colors of wild flowers. I totally loved the constant ringing sound of cow bells. We had one of the best hike in Appenzell canton, we went up to Ebenalp by cable car and walked up to a restaurant in middle of Ascher Cliff and hiked back after lunch. We passed through caves and old church. Ruhaan was stunned by this experience. There were cows all over the mountains grazing on the slopes.

Ebenalp- Ascher cliff restaurant, Swiss Cows

After that we hiked to see Seealpsee, that was the most satisfying experience we had. The lake water was so clean and the surroundings were so serene it felt like Nature is meditating.


Another hike Ruhaan enjoyed was from Murren to Gimmelwald, it was the most scenic walk we had.

Murren to Gimmelwald Scenic Walk

Snow capped Alps, beautiful valley, wooden chalets and wildflowers. We played game of naming colors. He was particularly fascinated by cable cars! At the end of our long walk, he slept holding tightly a pine fruit he had picked up on the way. Which I'll always preserve as Ruhaan's souvenir from Switzerland.One more activity Ruhaan loved on our trip is feeding swans in lakes. We used to save breads from our breakfast for swans in Zurich and Lucerne. Ruhaan learned many things on this trip; his first ride in real train, cable car. He saw a natural waterfall for the first time. Showing the highest in Europe - Staubbach falls to first timer is great thing. He used to see that from our window and used to explain us in cutest way how water is falling from that height.

One of the major highlights of our trip was obviously playing in snow on Jungfrau. It was first time for Ruhaan and me too. Seeing Great Aletsch Glacier in front of you from Jungfrau Plateau, was an awesome moment!
Aletsch Glacier- UNESCO world heritage natural site

At the end I would say Switzerland is heaven on earth, more importantly Swiss people are taking efforts to maintain their country that way. It is not just the Swiss government that is giving high importance to sustainability but also all citizens have made their lifestyle sustainable.

Wildflowers of Switzerland

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Eco-friendly Travel Planning and Packing

We are going on summer vacation soon (can't wait :)) ! I am busy planning and packing for it. We always try to have eco-friendly travels as much possible and I have been sharing our Eco Travels with you, my readers all these years.

But this time I am sharing my eco-friendly travel planning and packing tips, which somehow I didn't thought of before. Eco tourism is not just staying in eco-friendly resort, but there are many things involved to reduce our carbon footprint while we travel.

Eco-friendly Packing

1. Pack Light. The more weight planes, trains, cars are carrying, the more fuel they use. Plus it's convenient to travel light though it's difficult for us ladies, I know :). But try to limit clothes by creating combinations of outfits out of few pieces. And better to take just one or two universally matching shoes.
2. Travel size refillable bottles with ecofriendly toiletries. Instead of disposable bags or carrying full size containers of toiletries use refillable travel size bottles. After returning I finish and clean them and use it for my next travel. This time I have packed my favorite eco-friendly and biodegradable shampoo, body wash, face wash, scrub, multipurpose detergent from newly found Forever Living Aloe products range. If you are staying in sustainable hotel, they provide you biodegradable toiletries or always request you to bring the same with you.

Travel size Toiletries
3. Reusable Tote bags for shopping for groceries, souvenirs, picnic etc. To avoid using plastic bags and increasing garbage use these reusable tote bags. These bags fold into small size which can fit easily in your purse, bag pack or handbag.

Tote bags

4. Refillable water bottle. Instead of buying plastic bottles  for water repeatedly. Just make sure the tap water of your destination is safe to drink or not.
5. Opt for rechargeable batteries for alarm clock, cameras, flashlight and toys.
6. Travel literature- Don't buy too many books and maps for your travel. you get better and updated information on internet. And your luggage is reduced too. You can always find maps in information centers of your destination. This way you are helping cutting many trees.
7. Reading list on travel- Avoid buy too many books and magazines for your travel. There are newspapers, magazines always available on plane, in hotel. Some people now a days buy ebooks and read it, it's smartest way to reduced paper use. And some people instead of reading on travel, explore as much as possible and take surround in whenever seating or waiting for something.
8. Carry a tiffin box. Specially if you are travelling with kids to store food or leftover food from your lunch. Instead of using zip lock plastic bags or take away containers this is best, healthier and greener solution.

Before you leave home

1. Turn off and unplug all the lamps and household electronics. Unplugging is important since electronics leach power even if they are turned off.
2. Turn off water and gas valves. It's safer that way.
3. Put filled bottle upside down in planters, so that you won't come back to dried up plants at home
4. Recycle all those packaging cardboard boxes of things you bought for your travels.

Enjoying destination greenway

1. Avoid using transport when possible. Walk as much as possible, you get to explore more when you walk. And you can indulge in eating local food without worries about extra gain in weight on travel. We have a great memory of cycling on the scenic roads of Cappadocia in Turkey.
Cycling in Cappadocia

2. Use public transport instead of hiring car. On our upcoming travel we are going to travel internally by train; not just our son but we too are excited about it. We had travelled by bus overnight on our Turkey trip few years back, while I was planning my husband was not very happy. But that trip is most memorable and one of his favorite from that trip. You get so many interesting experience when you travel with locals, by keeping your CO2 emissions lowest.
3. Choose eco-friendly hotel/resort. It's amazing to see how they lessen their impact on environment by creating their own power, innovative recycling, employing locals and you get to eat amazingly fresh food grown in their gardens. You can always get great tips for greening your home from these hotels.
4. Support Eco-friendly housekeeping- You stay in eco-friendly hotel or not you can always reuse your towels and hang them on rack for drying after use. And can always request not to change your bed sheets everyday. this way you will save lot of water by not asking your hotel to wash your towels and linen everyday.
4. Shopping Locally-purchase things from local market fruits, food, local handicraft etc and use that reusable tote bag you packed for it.

Bought exotic fruits, vanilla and spices from farmer's market in Bali!

5. Recycle you waste on travel. If your are staying in eco-friendly hotel there will be recycling bins. Else there are generally recycling bins kept on airports, public transport stations and parks. Use your one of the tote bag to store recyclables till you reach the bin.
6. To offset your travel, you can always plan sustainable plants either in your travel destination or back home. But make sure you are planting a specie which can sustain without much maintenance (water, sunlight etc) and is local to that terrain. Buy the seeds or plants locally. There are restrictions on taking foreign species to countries like Australia etc.
7. Wrap gifts after landing back home. Security check on airports might ask you to open the gifts you bought for family and friends. And there is chance of getting the gift wrapping damaged in transport. So instead of wasting wrapping papers and boxes; just wrap them after you land.
8. Cooking from locally grown- If you have kitchenette facility available in your hotel, buying from local farmer's market and cooking a meal for your family on travel is great fun. During our vacation in Australia, I couldn't stay back from buying fresh organic vegetable from Queen Victoria market and cook it for dinner. According to my husband that was one the best meal on that trip.
Cooking in Melbourne

9. Eating locally and sustainable- There is no better experience that to eat from local eateries. This way you get to eat fresh food, local cuisine, explore their food culture and you can give back this way to that community. Less logistics and carbon emission is involved in eating locally. So next time you are ordering your meal from Mac Donald on your vacation think twice.
10. Go outdoors, explore the natural beauty of your destination. But remember not to disturb the local flora fauna and environment. Have as less impact as possible when you are out in Nature. Go for nature trails, walks, hikes it's great way of teaching your kids about environment and conservation. This will be great family bounding time too.

Hope these tips will help you to make your travels eco-friendly. Please share any of your eco friendly tips for travel which I skipped here.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Aloe Vera Gelly Giveaway- Winner Announced!

Thank you all our readers  who took time out and entered in our monthly Green Giveaway! The winner for June Green Giveaway winner is announced and is contacted by email.

Congratulations our Winner for winning Aloe Vera Gelly! Hope you love the product as much as we do!

Keep checking our blog for regular giveaways.

(P.S. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in these all natural aloe products on 0509839905)

Ramadan Kareem and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Win Aloe Vera Gelly this Ramadan!

Ramadan Kareem to all my readers! Admire your determination and self control as you fast for 30 days!

This month we are giving away all natural Aloe Vera Gelly, to soothe your skin in harsh summer of UAE. To read the review of this eco-friendly product click here.

To enter the draw complete form here and like our Facebook page and Subscribe to our blog. You can refer your friends to increase the chances of winning.

Draw ends on 27th June by noon. One winner will be announced by 28th June by email.

Good Luck!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Riding public transports of Dubai

Many years back UAE was a place where it was impossible to go out and about without cars or taxies. But over past few years UAE and mainly Dubai has improved big on public transport system. Rather it is now such an efficient system that people can live happily and enjoy this place without having their own cars. You can use public transport system even in harsh summer months thanks to air-conditioned bus stops and bus connectivity close to almost every residential part of Dubai.

Dubai metro is like blessing to not just residents but tourist as well. Riding Dubai metro is definitely fun too. I still remember shortly after opening Dubai metro everybody in Dubai wanted to experience the ride. We too joined that crowd and grabbed a place in the last compartment, where we could see the rails! Below is the video taken in Sept 2009, enjoy! :)

Almost 6-7 months back I started my 'riding public transport project' again, this time for my son and the results are joyful exclamations and buckets of excitement! But remember while taking your kids on public transport you need to keep in mind that it is heavily used by many people for regular commuting. Better avoid rush (office) hours. Minimize your luggage and avoid taking prams or strollers, better to carry your kids on your arms. There are enough ramps everywhere and dedicated places in metro, bus and trams to keep strollers. But without them I found it easier and your kids are going to co-operate you for sure!

We took roundtrip by bus in my community. While riding big bus, my son demanded to sing "Wheels on the bus" million times, I hope we didn't irritate our co travelers. The red button you press before the stop was a big attraction too.

Riding a metro was lot more excitement, because it was first time toot-toot train ride. I opted for late morning time, when it was not crowded. Ruhaan sang few songs, looked out and enjoyed a lot, recognizing bus, cars, bikes, trees, fountain etc. He liked the announcement part too.  But biggest fun was saying bye to parallel metro going in opposite direction!

But when he could see water from metro, he almost demanded his next ride, row row boat.
Riding Water taxi

There are many water taxies used by people for regular commute between Bur and Deira Dubai. But to add some more fun in that ride for me, we opted for ferry from Marina to Palm Jumeira and back. It was a total success! It was again my son's 1st boat ride, with repetitions of 'row row row your boat' song, I had to answer many more questions. For Ex. Cars don't run in water they run on road. Only boats run in waters (I avoided talking abut amphibious vehicles to reduce confusion). Also we can't go out of boat, because we'll have to swim and our clothes will get wet. We spent a great time waving to other boats, some people even waved back from those boats. My son talked to few of the passengers and they were happy to interact with him. But highlight of this ride was bird feeding. At the start of ride, the staff brought khaboos and threw the pieces in air towards birds and birds caught these pieces in air. that was very interesting part, almost everyone came out on the deck. Ruhaan got to throw few khaboos and he got very excited when those flying seagulls caught his pieces.

Riding Al Sufou tram is still pending on our list since winter, but Ruhaan sees tram from car and calls it metro. They look similar.

Apart from last ride (marina ferry), all public transports were full of regular commuters. It shows how Dubai's public transport is popular, convenient and sustainable. If we all park our cars and use public transport whenever possible, we could save so much fuel and reduce the carbon footprint.

Few years back, I used to share car with friends/colleagues while commuting to Abu Dhabi for work. That is another solution to reduce fuel use. There are many popular sites in UAE where you can find your travel buddy on,,, carpool Arabia or RTA sharekni service. I have many interesting memories from car sharing days, if you are travelling with colleagues it's like team building activity. Otherwise it's great way to get to know other cultures, share knowledge and have fun. The traffic jams are never boring if you are travelling with someone.

Every year in winter Car free day is celebrated in Dubai, but the public transport over here has developed up to such standard that homes near metro stations have more demand. I know few people who sold their second car and use public transport regularly inside Dubai for work.

After Ethihad rail, commuting between emirates without car will be even more easy too. Let's hope public transport in UAE will get even better and more and more residents will use it on regular basis.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

World-wide Energy Efficiency Standards for Appliances (Revised & Republished)

This post was originally published in June 2009 and is one of most popular post on this blog. This was probably only cumulative collection of worldwide energy efficiency standards present on web back then.

Recently I came across the UAE's own energy efficiency label and felt the need to update and republish this post. Please find the new addition at the end of the list.

Before buying any electric or energy consuming appliances we need to check, does it save energy? Is it energy efficient? However, how to check that? Here come the energy efficiency standards to help us decide our green appliance.

Worldwide there are different energy efficiency standards, ratings or labels. Some countries have their own standards some countries are following standards set by other countries. Most of them are similar. Some are voluntary, some are mandatory.

Therefore, here is the list of most of these standards & labels according to their country of origin. If you want to buy product made in ‘country’ then check out energy rating given in front of it.

Made in India - BEE star ratings (Buro of Energy Efficiency, India)
Made In US - Energy Star Label, California Energy commission
Made in Australia- Energy Star rating
Made In UK - Energy saving recommended certification
Made in Germany- Blue angel, Nordic Swan

Made in European Union- Energy plus, EU Eco Label, the Group for Energy Efficient Appliances (GEEA)

Made in Japan- Top runner label

Made in Singapore- Energy Efficincy rating, NAE (National Environment Agency)

In Asian market, the China Energy Conservation Project is expected to issue standards for electronics. Korea's voluntary Energy Saving Office Equipment & Home Electronics Program is important.
Other worldwide Energy efficiency labels are as follows

Made/Sold in UAE- Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) has developed a new energy efficiency rating system specifically for UAE. The importance is given to water efficiency as well, specially for washing machines (annual water consumption is considered for rating purpose). UAE doesn't have it's own natural water resource, the sea water is desalinated on huge quantities for day to day water consumption. That's why this rating system is more appropriate than usual energy rating systems for the country.

Always check energy efficiency labels on the appliances before you buy any!!!
(Send me energy efficiency logo which is not listed above)