How can we live a more sustainable life as a family in Dubai?

Our co-founder, Clara Strambio, sat down for a one on one chat with Dubai resident, mum and sustainability advocate Marta Roman to discuss living sustainably in Dubai.
Can you tell us a bit about you and when did you become interested in leading a sustainable life?
I grew up in Madrid, in an incredible family where love and kindness were the most important values we’d learn. My mother was the center of the family, she’d take us for long walks in the forest, with a sandwich and a blanket and we’d spend hours talking about anything and everything.
I had 2 great examples as parents, and when I became a mother I knew I wanted to raise my kids with the same strong set of values, so teaching them kindness and respect towards the environment, came very natural to me. I guess leading a sustainable life has always been a part of who I am.
When should parents start to talk about sustainability and issues around the environment with their kids and how?
I’d say the sooner the better. As parents, we have the great responsibility to care for our kids and their future. I often explain to my 3&5 yo why we take our reusable bottles everywhere, why we bring our own bags and containers to the supermarket or how single-use plastic pollution is damaging our planet. I’m lucky to be working with Goumbook, so I can take my kids to some of the incredible initiatives we run, like planting trees. It’s not about telling or showing them only, but to let them do too.
Most parents find the idea of sustainability daunting, can you give us 3 simple steps everyone can take to make a start?
First, learn yourself what is sustainability about and how you can help. Go for the official sources, like the UN or the Plastic Coalition. Even Netflix has very informative documentaries. You can even watch them together with your family.
Then think how, as a family, you can contribute together to care for the environment. Your family has a unique set of values, use them to engage the rest of the members and start with easy swaps, like ditching single-use plastic water bottles by using refillable ones for everyone.
And thirdly, try with more swaps. Bringing a set of spoons and a cloth napkin when you go out and about works wonders, or maybe you have an easier start with just leaving a set of reusable bags in your car for the next grocery shopping. Just don’t doubt the process. Changing mindsets takes time, but it’s not impossible. If you feel like it’s very difficult, take a rest and then continue. But don’t give up!
Do you think Dubai is a harder place to live a sustainable life as opposed to other cities/countries?
I’d say Dubai is not a perfect city but it has the potential to become more sustainable. Vegan options (eating mostly plant based is one of the most positive impact you can have on the environment as an individual) are available all around the city, you can buy in bulk avoiding single-use packaging in a lot of supermarkets and the second hand market is huge here. Lots of new businesses are opening every day promoting sustainability as part of their values, we even have a sustainability pavilion at Expo2020!
So I’d say Dubai has lots of things to improve, but we are all Dubai, and we all can do something to help the environment, to make a difference.
Marta Roman is a mother of 2 and married to her high school sweetheart. She has been living in Dubai for more than 9 years and she still love the perks of living here, like getting to know people from all around the world and learn about their cultures.
She works with Goumbook promoting awareness about sustainability and she shares easy tips on how to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle on her Instagram page.
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