Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kids in Tipees

Me and my son these days are totally in love with this tee-pee. It became a ritual to put up this tee-pee and play pretend camping. It's also our reading corner and cozy spot to lie down, tell stories to my son. The credit of this wonderful time definitely goes to Hanieh from Kidsinteepees, who sends so much love through every tee-pee that our kids are bound to feel that love and hang around the tee-pee more than you expected.
Pretend camping in our favorite tee-pee
I have added this tee-pee in my sustainable products list not just because it is made from natural materials i.e. 100 % cotton and white wood, but also it's great educational toy to teach our kids staying close to Nature. Anywhere you go either on beach or camping outdoors, you can give this tee-pee, a private camping space to your children and outcome is definitely a child; growing with love for outdoors!

Whenever we play pretend camping at home, we start with decorating the tee-pee, it's lovely to see how much creative kids can get, we also use it occasionally as clinic, when my son becomes a pretend doctor and even a shop, when he becomes shopkeeper. There is so much fun you can do with this teepee and best part is it's easy to use, so just few seconds to arrange it and let your child's imagination run wild. 
Hanieh working on tee pee
Hanieh with her final product
When I got to see, how Hanieh Hooshmand assembles the tee-pee at her workshop in Al Quoz I was stunned to see her passion for her products. Hanieh, a mother of beautiful daughter knows what might be issues with the tee-pees, so she softens every piece of wood with sandpaper leaving no sharp edges.

This 'particular' mama makes sure the cloth is lint free inside-out. She irons the cloth knowing, it might not remain as wrinkle free after packing the tee pee. But she follows her own set steps to make sure whole product is almost perfect! And believe me she has very high standards of quality, which you can see in her product. This handmade love she give to each and every tee-pee, because she knows all these beautiful kids who will spend time in tee-pees are her final customers! So I don't need to tell you separately that how safe the product is for children. If you want to see a business woman believing in quality of work instead of fancy marketing tactics, you need to meet this Iranian beauty!

You can get name of your child embroidered on tee-pee or get it made to order for specific color etc for gifts. To find out more, click for website and facebook page and check photos here

Maker of Kidsinteepees

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Al Noor's Special Bag Makers

It's my immense pleasure to collaborate with Al Noor Training Center for Special Needs and bring you the story of how Eco-friendly jute bags are made by special needs students to display Al Noor's contribution to preserve environemnet!

If you have ever been to this center in Al Barsha, you know how inspired you feel, just by seeing what these talented students are capable of doing right from sewing, printing, baking and what not. When I visited it few weeks back, I felt blessed spending time with these adorable and loving students. Total 270 students from 30 different nationalities are learning at the center. They are taking education with help of different techniques and technology. They are also taking vocational training to become independent financially. Good number of their students got employed by companies in UAE, after they finished their training here. Some of the ex-students are working in the center too.

It was beautiful to watching making stuff confidently, some of them even showed proudly their creation and accepted my appreciation graciously.

Recently this project was initiated in collaboration with Emirates Environment Group who endorsed Al Noor’s endeavor of producing the bags. They gave valuable input on the layout of the design as well.



The bags are made at the vocational training unit of the Center


The designs are screen printed by the students and sheltered employment trainees at the Center





The bags are cut and sewn by Saheer, a sheltered employee.


The hallmark of the bags are the sharp quality of the prints and the superior quality of stitching. 


If you are concerned about the environment and at the same time looking to enhance your shopping, accessory, or beach experience look no further than this elegantly designed jute tote bag sized 15" x 15" x 3".


Cost of the bag is only AED 50/- You can purchase these in their cafe cum shop Smile N' Stuff in center's premises in AL Barsha click for location map and don't forget to take home yummy cookies made by the students!

If you ask me I am totally in love with these trendy bags! I love to take it with me for shopping trips to mall or any outdoor trip to beach or park. Great to show my support to environment and Al Noor special needs at same time, while I get to promote sustainable fashion too!

I will urge all my readers to support Al Noor Special Needs in this project by purchasing these Jute bags for you, your family & friends as Eco gifts. And companies can buy these for your employees that way you could even promote using reusable bags along with support social cause. I personally feel this is ultimate sustainable product which unites environmental and social factors very beautifully. Find them on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

Go Green and Support Al Noor!
  
To win these bags, enter giveaway by clicking here

Friday, March 18, 2016

Letter to My Child about Climate Change

My dearest son,

At the time of writing you this letter, you just turned 3 year old few days back. I wrote many other mails to you to tell you how much I love you and how much your dad and your grandparents love you. What fun things we did together since when you were born. I am sure you must have read all those memories of you in our minds.
But my darling I am writing this special letter to let you know what world you are living in now, in 2016, and what it used to be long before you were born, hoping you are living in a better world. Now in 2016, just few days back here in UAE (where we are staying now), a storm came with heavy rains and washed out almost whole country. There was unimaginable water logging in our community, I got a call from your nursery to pick you up early and then we had to spend some time to avoid water on roads and reach home. It never happened before in this country at this scale. The fact is since few years everywhere around the world, the climate is changing visibly!

I hope, at the time you read this letter (when you are a young adult in 15 years time), things are back to what they used to be during my child hood. I hope, in these 15 years, governments and businesses around the world have given priority to environment instead of just short term financial goals. I hope, in these 15 years, people around the globe have realized, accepted and taken efforts to address the causes of climate change.

In case you are wondering how the world was during my child hood, let me tell you how it was when your dad and I were kids. I spent my childhood in a small city by the river and surrounded by one of the mountain ranges of India. We have many cozy winter memories from my childhood, when temperatures used to reach almost freezing, foggy mornings, soft woolen wears, bonfires, doctor's brandy as medicine for cold, to name a few. Three years back, when you were born, I was very excited to be back there in the winter after many years, and was hoping to revisit all those cozy chilled memories of childhood. But sadly, not only was it much warmer but it was hardly any colder than Dubai's winter. So I always get surprised when people question if climate change is real.

We used to have regular seasons, back in India, spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter. Seasonally predictable things used to happen during those seasons, but life was fun! Since few years, all the seasons are disturbed, there are lots of cyclones, storms and unpredictable rains everywhere. Because of this crops are getting spoiled, farming is getting affected, farmers are committing suicides in India, food prices are increasing all over the world. Significantly years are hotter or colder or wetter. larger numbers of people are going hungry, inequality in the society is increasing.

We didn't have electronics devices at our times for playing, so watching Peppa pig or Pocoyo, cartoons was not an option which you love to watch when I am writing this letter, Hope in your times our society is not wasting too much money, energy and time on electronic devices. Or even better, all your devices are made cradle to cradle and all their parts are inter-changeable. In short what we call now the new concept of circular economy, is the only way to produce things by then.

But if you wonder, if we didn't have electronic devices what we did? we used to play outdoors and yes there wasn't much traffic outside, so it used to be safer. We used to breathe much fresher air everyday, for which we now take you to remote rural parts of India or even as far as the alps in Switzerland or deep rain forest in Bali. Looking at it positively, you get to experience this great fresh air when we go close to nature.

Hope you have not opted for smoking and you have an electric car. I even hope in your time, buying cars is looked at negatively and that there is excellent public transport, and riding bike is a norm. In our childhood we used to ride a bicycle, owning a scooter before junior collage was a luxury. We used to have fresh source of water and enough water for everyone. I remember seeing river beds clearly and no waste mixed to it.

During my childhood, people were much closer, neighbors were extended families, people talked to strangers on buses and trains, instead of looking into screens. Relationships were valued much more than materialistic things. People were dependent on each other rather than technology. Currently google is our helper, if we need some help. During my childhood days, senior neighbor aunt was the Google for my mom.

Those times, we used to have fresh naturally grown food in my city, which is now termed as organic. People used be healthier and there used be fewer diseases. Now every year some new viruses are found around the globe, as a result of climate change. I even have less memories of natural disasters shown on TV news channels but unfortunately more news of wars and tensions between the countries and communities. Now unfortunately world is busy with both, so those governments are least bothered by climate change. At this time of course, people are talking about climate refugees and war refugees. Though it's great to have whole world as family, I hope few cultures are not forgotten by the time, you are reading it. I hope very strongly countries are co-operating each other more in your times.

We used to have wide variety of wild life almost a century back, you can find it in the encyclopedia. I grew up learning about extinct and endangered species. Many people are so selfish since some time now, that for their selfish monitory purpose they are poaching and creating great danger for some important animal species like elephants, rhinos, tigers. You know right now how much you love elephants and tigers! So we took you to show you these animals in their habitat and you have even fed elephants in a safari. Hope you can continue doing this after 15 years. Hope not all forests around the world are developed and cut down or even you have more forests reserves on planet after 15 years. And hope by that time people really love animals and their natural existence instead of things made out of their teeth or skin!

Those small joys of running behind butterflies, listening to singing birds, signs of season change from looking at trees around, fresh smells of nature, great tastes of fresh farm goodies, caring for lost baby animal, planting trees and gardening, collecting natural goodies like dry leaves or flowers or bird shed feathers or shells from beach and trading between friends. Dark skies full of twinkling stars at night. These are the memories of my childhood. These I try to give to you now, by searching places where tourism is not yet commercialized or Eco tourism is developed. I hope you can still enjoy them after 15 years. I believe these joys make us good human, we are supposed to live close to nature, it's not something we need to learn. Rather we need to unlearn attaching ourselves too much with artificial things and even attach our emotions and happiness with them. During my childhood, people were more connected and happiness was not counted in money as much as it is now.

My precious child, but if things are not as good as I hope, I AM SORRY! I want to apologize not only to you but all your friends and whole of your generations and the generations after yours. It is because of us, your parents and your grandparents and our ancestors from the last century, who didn't realize what we are doing with our environment. Our ancestors got too excited about industrialization and the more sophisticated life that came with it. The people got too used to the comforts they got out of this industrial culture being ignorant of environmental impacts. We continued harming our beautiful nature for years after years without thinking what we are passing on to you. Yes, we were foolish enough to think if we earn lots of wealth our next generations will be happier. Sadly we thought this wealth is money we are making out directly or indirectly harming the very planet, on which our existence is dependent. And even when some of us realized where things are going wrong, we didn't push our governments, businesses and even ourselves enough to take actions. Didn't change the way to make things, to demand things, to consume things, to throw things. We didn't make the change in our lifestyle and didn't push everyone around us to do that. Just because, we hesitated, or even thought what can one man can do to change the situation.

Remember, if you are suffering because of unpredictable weather, natural disasters, food scarcity or in the worst case, water scarcity, please don't blame our beautiful nature, just blame me! My darling I couldn't give you the better world!

Try to remember better things from your childhood. We also are doing the same, when it comes to climate and natural beauty. But in your case, I know you are suffering much more than us.

But please have the same sustainable lifestyle which I taught you, or even make it better. I know it's hard, when you are young, want to explore things, go little (hope only little) wild. But think what the effect is going to be on your kids or on your friends kids. I know at your age nobody thinks about kids. But please don't repeat the same mistake we did. Have faith!

I still hope, things would be better! We are going to celebrate Earth Hour today with millions of people around the world who care for environment. Many more people are going to be Eco aware if we keep on spreading word. I really hope you are living in better world, where air is fresh, water is clean and the land is adorned with natural beauty. I still hope, people in my generation can do something concrete now and let all you beautiful children enjoy planet earth, the way we enjoyed in our childhood.

Your's Loving,
Green Mama

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Earth Hour Giveaway

Hi readers, Earth hour 2016 is on 19th March and I am glad to gift these eco friendly bags to my eco conscious readers on this occasion! Millions of thanks to Al Noor training center!!

These trendy eco jute bags are not just eco friendly but very special, as they are made by very intelligent students of Al Noor Training Center for Special Needs. So when you take these bags for shopping or on beach, you can not just show off your support to Earth but even these lovely special needs kids and the social cause!
Take some time out and visit the café Smile n Stuff in their al Barsha facility for yummy freshly baked items and their store of beautiful gift items; all handmade by their amazing students! Be ready to get delighted!

Giveaway Details:

To enter the giveaway, you need to just share your photos doing any earth friendly act on social media and tag Green Living in Dubai's account or use
#greenlivingdxb

8 lucky winners will be chosen and will be gifted these biodegradable Jute bags along with few eco goodies! Winners will be announced on 26th March now. Let's go green together and say no to plastic bags!

Good Luck and don't forget to switch off lights on this Saturday 19th March 8.30 pm- 9.30 pm!
#ChangeClimateChange

Our Visit to Wasit Wetland Nature Reserve

Emirate of Sharjah is taking huge efforts to develop eco tourism, part of this effort Environmental and Protected Area Authority has developed Wasit Wetland center in Wasit nature reserve, which was previously a  waste-water dump and rubbish tip called Ramtha Lagoons and Ramtha Tip.

Arabian Helmeted Guineafowl, Wadi Bird

Bird food preparation area
The center consist of bird watching towers, bird habitats made in enclosed area that live on wetland and can be seen from glass walls, salty lagoons, mudflats, fresh water pools, wetlands and the café overlooking the beautiful lagoon. The center houses 60 species and 350 birds. Within center's six large aviaries are arranged according to their preferred habitat, which are Wadi birds, Mudflat birds, Marsh Birds, Shrubland birds, Reedbed birds and Estuary birds.


At Wasit wetland center local and migratory birds are conserved by habitat conservation, rehabilitation, captive breeding. There are also bird food preparation, feeding facilities, where one can learn about food habits of different birds.

Bird Watching Tower

We spent a great time at one of the bird watching tower, it felt very peaceful and serene watching a few black winged stilt birds that close and in their habitat. In center my son had fantastic time, learning about different birds. He still talks about the tall bird standing on one foot. The facility is so educational and equipped with state of art technology, you can find deatailed information about every bird species displayed. The interactive education children games kept in facility are great way to develop kids interest in birds and their conservation.





video
Video- Facility provided to hear sound of birds chirping inside the enclosure.

One can spend hours looking at birds kept in enclosed area or sitting in café next to lagoons. We even got to see some interesting bird feeding experience and how the Goliath Heron reacted to food, their feathers spiked up the instant they saw food. Ruhaan particularly enjoyed Pied Avocet birds taking bath and splashing water.

Goliath Heron, Reedbed bird


Pied Avocet taking bath, Mudflat bird





The wetland contains a number of rare birds, including Northern Bald Ibis, Glossy Ibis, grey heron, marbled duck — which is the only threatened bird — purple swamphen, pink-backed pelican and greater flamingo.

Black winged Stilt at Mudflat next to watch tower

Logo showing black winged Stilt
The black-winged stilt was chosen - from the birds that settled in Wasit Nature Reserve – as the logo for the nature reserve. Large numbers of black-winged stilts exist in the Wasit Nature Reserve, amounting to 3000 birds, in external lakes. They are known for their long legs, which are the longest among birds’ legs. They also make their nests near lagoons


Lagoon on the background


We couldn't take ride in electric buggy around the facility this time, as we didn't realize how much time we spent observing different birds and learning about them. We spent more than 3 hours and still couldn't experience everything they have offered. I am sure, we'll go there soon to learn more and do things which we missed this time. No doubt this is paradise for bird lovers in UAE. I would highly recommend this place not only for kids but every one. Specially those who complain there aren't much natural spots in UAE to enjoy or get close to nature.


Chestnut bellied Sandgrouse, Shrubland bird

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Eco Birthday Celebration

My Son turned 3 last weekend and even this year we could have eco celebration! His birthday was celebrated in his nursery with his friends.

Superheroes or cartoon character themes are not yet on his mind for birthday celebration, so when I told him we are going to have garden theme birthday, he was very excited. Mainly because he just wanted cake, decoration and his friends singing, clapping for him. But I would like to believe, may be other reason can be he is been exposed to nature early on.

To keep our birthday tradition, even this year we had DIY décor and best part was, this year the birthday boy helped me making the decoration!
Garden themed birthday in his nursery

My little gardener has planted seeds and seen how things grow before, but this time I took opportunity to make him aware how plants survive and why plants are so important. Some plants and trees give us food, we can eat either leaves or fruits. (Roots and stems of plants was a bit difficult for him to understand at this age). So plants are very important, we need to take care of them. If they give us food then what food they need? Soil, Sun and Water! We made a bunting to keep in mind, what thing plants need and how to take care of plants.

When I told Ruhaan's teacher in nursery about our birthday theme, she liked the idea too. But because of lack of time, we couldn't have planting activity with his friends, so instead I decided to give potted edible plants to his friends as return favors. In search of edible plants in kids friendly small pot, I ended up exploring UAE's hidden gem for garden lovers, Plant Souq in Warsan. I couldn't help but bought few herbs for my window garden.

Return favors potted rocket plants
From there I could manage to get Rocket/ Jarjeer plants for all his classmates and even teachers. We wrapped the plants at home and wrote a message for their parents on how to take care of this plant, mentioned it's edible. I even put a tag of each child's name in plant, to make it personalized. I have seen, when we write his name on any plant, he is more caring and feel responsible towards that plant! I really hope the kids and parents would have liked our natural/eco and educational gift!
Potted plant chocolate cake

To complete our theme, we even got made the chocolate cake looking like potted plant, I planted clean mint stems on top of it, just before cake cutting. The mint even tasted great with yummy chocolate cake! My little gardener was so delighted to have birthday celebration in nursery, specially when everyone sang happy birthday song and clapped!

On the day of his birthday, which was on weekend we took him to Emirates Park Zoo, to meet his favorite animal Elephant. But at the end of our visit, his favorite animal changed from elephant to monkeys! No surprise, monkeys were jumping, hanging from branches and were drawing attention from all kids!

Ruhaan was very happy to feed animals, we fed grass to monkeys, chickens, camels, zebras, deer, sheep, goats and many different animals but giraffe was our favorite. I never fed giraffe before, it's tongue is quite long, it touches you when you feed them, as they grab food from your hand with their tongue. I don't know if that is the reason but I felt lot of love for this majestic animal! :D

https://instagram.com/greenlivingindubai/
Emirates Park Zoo

Ruhaan loved cuddling cute lambs and feeding them milk from bottle. We even watched lioness and a lion fighting over food provided to them. It was thrilling though. I personally don't like to see wild animals in captivity but the animals in emirates park zoo seem to be well looked after. And zoo is great place in urban area, where we can make our kids aware of wild life and their conservation. So it's very important to keep animals in captivity in best possible condition. A roaring lion in another zoo, kept in a very small cage is such injustice and I have even seen people teasing that poor king of jungle. It is a very bad example and if we don't respect wild life our kids will unfortunately learn the same from us.

Till now we have celebrated each of Ruhaan's birthday with animals, it is always lot of fun for whole family and we are hoping to raise an animal lover and eco conscious child! I am sure next year, he will have his own plans but I'll definitely try to make the celebration eco friendly. :-)