Growing up surrounded by sustainability
A few months ago I discovered a great opportunity to join Schneider Electric’s newly formed Gulf Sustainability team. I’ve always been interested in sustainability since a very young age whilst growing up in Alexandria, Egypt, thanks to my parents and teachers. My mother was very resourceful and always had ingenious ways of recycling and refurbishing things around the house. She was also a MasterChef when it came to cooking and never wasted any food or water in the kitchen. Any leftovers were duly donated to our building guards, remixed with love and all food scraps were placed in a mini compost bin next to our kitchen sink. She taught us to always close the tap whenever we were washing dishes or brushing our teeth and reminded us often that every drop of water was a blessing.
Mind you, my sustainability lessons didn’t stop there. When I was in high school, we had a teacher organize an initiative to increase awareness of the dangers of throwing out batteries incorrectly. He informed us that disposing of batteries incorrectly could cause harm to people and the environment because of potential leaks and hazardous material. This sparked a newfound realization in me that there were many ways to become sustainable and that there were better ways to dispose of and recycle things around the house and in our local community. And it was a realization that still stays with me today.
Growing fresh produce was also part of our daily lives in Egypt. When I returned home from school, the aroma of fresh mint would fill our entire apartment. My mom always had a small army of mint pots around the kitchen to use for garnishing, cooking, and evening tea. Although we now live in Dubai, my parents still have the habit of growing plants, including mint. Our yard and house are filled with plant pots all around and we make it a habit to water and take care of those plants daily.
Working in Sustainability at Schneider
All these important childhood experiences coupled with my new arrival into Schneider’s Gulf Sustainability team have made me realize that any small action I take if shared with the team and the company, can have a bigger impact on the community as a whole. On our monthly Gulf Sustainability team calls, we often discuss different topics around sustainability such as how to make the office more energy-efficient and greener as well as key campaigns to promote recycling and saving resources. Recently, we worked with our local Facilities team to implement some great ideas and this was a big step.
Our team also regularly discuss potential partnerships Schneider Electric can have with like-minded organizations in the Gulf to raise the conversation and conservation efforts in the Gulf region. In fact, we recently joined forces with two amazing green companies: Goumbook, a UAE-based green social enterprise and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG). These partnerships will take Schneider one step closer to becoming a more sustainable company with the implementation of social responsibility projects and green solutions and I am so excited for these partnerships.
Over the past couple of months, our team has published four info-packed news bulletins, launched an internal ‘Get into the green scene’ competition encouraging employees to share their sustainable acts and organized a successful Sustainability Summer 2021 Camp for more than 30 children across the Gulf aimed at teaching them about sustainability by using fun activities such as origami making, art projects and interactive educational videos. And that’s not all; we have more activities planned over the coming months.
Being part of the sustainability team has not just been transformative for the company, it has had such an impact on my personal life as well. Ever since I joined the Sustainability team, I have become more conscious of my day-to-day activities and I’ve been actively incorporating sustainable habits in my routine and around my house. My family and I now separate and recycle the garbage and make it a point to avoid using plastic products and materials that are harmful to the environment.
Whilst working on the previous issue of the newsletter, I was hunting for top sustainability tips that can be easily implemented around the house. I was happy to have included some of the findings in the newsletter and share it within the company. I also wanted to implement some of these habits around my house too. This got me interested in reading more about sustainability to help me come up with more ideas to share in the newsletter and with my team.
Being part of the Gulf Sustainability team has been very motivating and empowering. I am happy to be part of an initiative that is working to make a huge impact and make way for a better planet for us and our children. I can’t wait to see what this amazing team can bring to the table and I am so happy to be part of this monumental sustainability journey.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
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Written by: Salma Maatouk