Doua Benhida, Zero waste Advocate in the UAE
Describe yourself in 3-5 words
Zero Waste advocate, mom to a 4 year old son
How has your sustainable journey started?
It all started when I saw that there was a ridiculous amount of plastic in my house, from my family’s shopping, grocery shopping… my bathroom.. I got so overwhelmed by it I decided to learn on how I could reduce it ! I was always a nature person, always for the animal welfare, very plant based diet… doing everything at home, avoiding chemicals etc… So I had it in me somehow – learning about removing the plastic and living more sustainably, and ethically was just the natural next step in my life.
What is your vision and how do you think you add value to the community?
I would like to have my online store as the one stop shop to become zero waste in the UAE by supporting exclusively local & small businesses. I believe I add value to the community because I am a speaker and for the past 3 years I have been raising awareness on the issue, from students, to employees & simply the community as well. I know that after my talks, the people I met would be so convinced about this lifestyle that they started their own journey!
Can you share a couple of practical examples on your sustainable living that would be useful to others?
I live by the 3 R’s ( 5Rs officially, but the ones that I use on a daily basis, and that I would recommend to anyone are the first 3 ) – they really are my mantra after covid happened. Pre-covid, I’d be all about refusing and reusing. Now, I have learnt how to reduce due to uncontrollable events and factors, we need to be kind to ourselves. Like I saw in all my talks: knowledge is power. We know way more than our previous generations, so we get to act knowingly. Do enough research on the problem and the solution and see what works best FOR YOU. Being zero waste isn’t just tackling the plastic problem – it’s a waste from a holistic point of view : food, clothing, electronics… even our eating habits, and transpiration have a huge impact. So, there is no one specific way to be zero waste.
Since when have you lived in the UAE?
Why do you love this place?
Love it’s melting pot, diversity of people, how big & innovative it is. Love the nature, the different emirates and their biodiversity, their wildlife which is unique to this part of the world !
If you would get a magic stick, what would you improve?
The loop lifestyle / economy in restaurants – the awareness of people of the problem, the availability of plastic free and reusable items….. that’s a terrible question to ask me. I’d never stop !
Where do you like to do your grocery and why?
Carrefour – it’s by far the only place in the UAE that has the widest range of plastic free items in bulk. Fruits, veggies, pulses, cheese, olives, butter spreads, olive oils refills, and vinegar too, bread, pastries, cookies, meat & poultry, fish…. so, only build a trust relationship with the staff, and you’re good to go with your containers and jars ! They all know me by now, and always greet me with a smile !
What is your favourite eco-brand?
I don’t have any, I buy anything I can reuse, that is ethical – mainly all from my website :))))
What is your favourite eco-friendly restaurant or cafe?
SEVA – by far.
The best way to spend time with family and friends?
Picnic, drinks, coffee at a park or beach !
How do you spend your free time?
I do a lot of body stretch, gym, yoga, home remedies for my skin. I honestly am never free-free ! I think it’s when I sleep ! haha
The best recent discovery in the UAE?
pre-covid : connect with nature and their awesome tracks in great places !!!
Do you recycle and how?
I stopped when I no longer had anything to recycle (which is your goal basically, and you reach the loop cycle !) – but since covid, I’ve had to start again. I use Bee’ah in Barsha pond park, every 3 months I go there and drop my recycling items, which isn’t a lot !
What is the best way to learn about sustainability and green living?
Documentaries, follow influencers, read books, what videos, meet people that are into this similar activities too… documentaries thought to me were the best and most effective: visual, and have always a powerful message behind it !
Follow Doua @ZWASTEUAE and visit her web and online store