R is for Rubbish

A caper bush being choked by trash. This bush is growing in a wadi in Dahab, a place where tourists are taken for “Bedouin dinners” in the mountains.

In a survey of European tourists in Sinai given from February to April 2004, when asked what they enjoyed least about their holiday to Sinai,

15% reported waste and rubbish


8% reported sea pollution.

Yes, whether you call is trash, garbage, rubbish, waste, or ziballa, there is a lot of it in Egypt!

I wonder what the tourists in mainland Egypt would say. I wonder if the tourists realize that they, too, contribute to our local rubbish problem. Rubbish collection is a challenge for sure, but the amount of trash produced by hotel-packed box lunches, plastic water bottles, disposable cups, etc. is overwhelming to say the least.

We need to come at this problem from several angles, and I’d like to start with me. And you. And what we can do to Reduce our Rubbish! (Great alliteration, yes?!) For if there is less rubbish to begin with, there is less for the workers to collect and less for the wind to blow into our deserts and seas.

Since most of the trash found here in Sinai is plastic, let’s start there. There are many bloggers out there dedicated to the environment, and I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorites: Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish. She is an expert on reducing plastic waste! She has this to say about her Plastic-Free Living Guide:

Over the last three years, I’ve discovered many plastic-free methods and alternatives. This list is not meant to be overwhelming but simply to give an idea of what is possible. Choose a few that seem doable and that will make the most impact. No one can do it all at once. But we can all get started!

Having a look at her list, I’ve rated my own plastic-free performance. (Can you tell I’m a teacher?!) Three-star items, we do pretty consistently. Two-star items, we’re working on but sometimes forget our own container for tameya. One-star items are ones we’re just beginning to focus on.

*** 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 12, 13, 15, 21, 25, 28, 29, 47, 50, 66, 69

** 14, 18, 27, 61

* 5, 6, 9

Check out her guide and try find at least one way to reduce your own rubbish. Have other good ideas specific to Egypt or traveling? Please post a comment and share your tips.

Because I’d really prefer not to post such ugly photos on my blog…

(Survey data from the South Sinai Environmental Action Plan, 2005.)