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Children urged to reduce consumption at World Environment Day at Yas Mall

ABU DHABI // Want to save the environment? Start by cleaning your plate. That’s the message dozens of youngsters heard yesterday as part of United Nations World Environment Day activities hosted by Tadweer at Yas Mall.

The theme set by the UN for this year’s edition of the annual international campaign, which was commemorated around the world on Friday and aimed at raising awareness and action towards protecting the environment, is Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

Tadweer, the capital’s waste management company, took that message a step further by extending the campaign through the weekend and asked others to empathise with the plight of those who are less fortunate through the theme Feeling for Others.

“We want to touch hearts,” said Fatima Al Harmoudi, public awareness officer at Tadweer. “We must think about people. Some people don’t have food to eat, some people have only a little bit. And we have everything.

We go to the malls, we have coffee shops, we go to restaurants, and even at home, we end up wasting half our food. We must reduce food waste, reduce consumption and food waste, this is very, very important.”

Aniketh Kini, a 10-year-old sixth-grader at Abu Dhabi Indian School, helped to amplify that message by delivering an informative presentation to shoppers who stopped to listen. First, he listed some facts: “One out of every seven people in the world go to bed hungry” and “one third of the food is being wasted in the world”.

“There are millions of people in the world who are hungry, and wasting food also produces methane gas, which is harmful to the atmosphere,” said Aniketh, who was accompanied by a team of colleagues from his school to promote the message.

“We can save food by following steps like serving only as much as is required, planning our menus and shopping lists and freezing the leftover foods.”

Aniketh also showed a video encouraging people to eat and shop responsibly and avoid being wasteful.

Srinivasa Kini, Aniketh’s father, said: “By saving food, you can save so many other things. A lot goes into making the food – water, electricity, fertiliser, chemicals. That’s why they want to spread the awareness.”

Naveed Rana, whose son had his face painted at the campaign’s activity centre set up inside the mall, said the world should look to France for a positive example of how to eliminate food waste.

The government there recently passed a law forbidding supermarkets from throwing away perishable goods.

“They don’t have to throw it out, they have to give it to a charity,” said Mr Rana. “We need a law like this all over the world so that food will not be wasted.”

Children, sitting on chairs made from recycled tyres, were also invited to find new uses for regular household items by turning aluminium cans and plastic bottles into functional art, such as decorative pen holders and flower vases. There were even examples of baskets woven out of old newspapers.

Sarah Ayoob, who created crafts along with her three younger siblings – Abdulla, 8, Maya, 6, and Aleen, 2 – was pleased with the activities.

“It helps us to reuse things,” said Sarah. “It’s so nice.”

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(via The National)