It’s hard for me to believe that we are at the end of the challenge. In the first few weeks of the challenge, all the people around me thought I would be winning a big prize. To this minute, people are still asking me, “What’s in it for you?” and “What will they offer you?” I actually stopped thinking about that, and especially after the Earth Hour event, I knew that all of us who participated in the challenge were winners from the start. We definitely did hard work, all in our own ways. So I believe we were sailing on the same boat.
All that we did was one drop in a big ocean, and there is so much more than that. The opportunity for us to be in this challenge is considered a benefit to our community as well as the earth. I was really surprised that UAE has one of the world’s highest carbon footprints — no wonder we are doing our best to minimize it. Even before I started the challenge I decided to go green. I was not waiting for National Geographic to choose us a family. But I thank god for a great opportunity with this organization, which opened my eyes in so many ways, with wonderful coaches who led us all the way. I am grateful for that.
I was so proud of my family, who walked beside me and joined me on stage at the Earth Hour event. I did not see myself how far we had come until I heard them talking in a TV interview about us and how we did, and it was like a dream come true to be able to participate in such an event. I know that we are proud of what we did, all the families who participated in this challenge.
Once, when my son noticed the water heater was on, he asked me if I could go and turn it off — that was in the middle of the night. Another time my other boy told me “mum, you are wasting water” while I was trying to bathe my sister’s new baby. If this diet could make the children aware of our surroundings, what do you think about us grown-ups? We need to have action, not words that evaporate into the air.
We installed a real-time energy management system, and it immediately uncovered the brutal truth. The utility company had been sending the monthly utility bills, but I was always waiting for the end of the month to get information. Although we had many thoughts on how to save electricity, we had no clue where to start and how to set priorities. Ultimately the easiest decisions were to replace old high-consumption equipment with new high-tech efficient items, but honestly this was not enough.
The real-time energy metering system proved that the electricity consumption behavior (PDF) is the key. We noted that the abuse of electricity during daytime was uncontrollable while there was no supervision over the housemaids. I was able to do that from my office, and I was even able to compare the effect of weather on the consumption.
Luckily, there was not much to do for the lighting, since we were already using energy-saving bulbs but we have replaced our dishwasher and planning for an A function refrigerator soon. Other clear instructions were made for the housemaids on when and how to use the heaters, ACs and even the lights.
Needless to say, we are more than pleased with the decision to install the real-time energy management system. It helped us expose a mysterious source of our excessive energy.
Nowadays the number of my family members (five) is considered to be average, whereas in the olden days the family was so big – for example, I have three sisters and ten brothers. But we were just fine, we lived so simply. It’s not like now, when we are surrounded by luxury where ever we go. I was thinking, what’s the use of having a lot of children if we don’t raise them well and play a good role in our community. I guess my role as a member in my community and mother is to raise an awareness for people around me in every possible way to live green and think green, starting with my family by changing our behavior toward lots of things around us, and that’s the key to the door beyond.
No matter how small our contributions are, they will make a difference by changing habits in our daily lives. I don’t think that there will be turning back for most of the points in the diet that we have been through. Once you are on it, you will see and feel how different you are. In such times we need to get a hold of reality, where our environment needs us now. It’s not nice to think that if something bad happens we will act. We need to act now, before something bad happens. It’s always wise to think that preventing is better than curing.