I think for most of us living in the Gulf, we probably wouldn’t be nominated for an ‘environmentally-friendly citizen’ prize any time soon. With high temperatures during most of the year, we favor the more convenient use of cars rather than public transport, and with the absence of recycling bins in our towns or cities, we're not exactly encouraged to include all things green as part of our lifestyles. At the same time, some of us have gone through introspective moments, realizing the need for healthier lifestyles and more sustainable practices, or have at least gasped at the statistics of our unhealthy lifestyles – that are reaching world rankings and not in a good way.
At some point in our life, we’ve all decided to make a ‘change’, but frankly the word has become so overused that we’ve almost become insensitive to it. The Change Initiative in Dubai has literally put together an initiative that's easily accessible and super encouraging to make better lifestyle choices. It's a one-stop destination that equips people with the necessary items for healthier and environmental lifestyle choices, offering sustainable solutions for our everyday lives at work and home. It's a place where you can finally make those million little promises you made to yourself come true.
The Change Initiative caters to the needs for sustainability in kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms and outdoors from leading brands such as Philips, Schneider, Ecover, Siematic, Volkswagen and IBM. The two-storey store in Barsha has two separate sections, one designed for residential consumers and the other for commercial and institutional needs and requirements. The store takes care of even more basic lifestyle changes, providing a platform for healthy food options, sustainable clothes and ecologically sound cosmetics (yes, those exist apparently).
I’ve tried diet changes that made me cry and weep over carrot cakes and hot chocolate in an attempt to reach the yet-to-be achieved goal of adopting ‘healthier’ eating habits. The Change Initiative covers those changes too and I’m not talking about celery sticks and cabbage soup. The Taste Initiative, a cafe incubated in The Change Initiative store, presents healthy and delicious options that are actually delicious – from chocolate tarts and smoothies to pizzas and paninis, all made of local produce. Even better, leftover food is never thrown away. Waste produced from the restaurant is recycled, and de-watering devices are used to extract water from food waste therefore reducing the volume of the waste, which is then composted in bokashi bins, later used for gardening. Moreover, the food options at The Taste Initiative don’t always mean the need for a drive to Al Barsha since regular cooking demos and workshops disclosing the secrets to healthy good food are organized and recipe books are sold.
The Change Initiative, having been founded just over a year ago, has already formed its own loyal fan community. From coffee tasting evenings and art exhibitions to yoga sessions every week, the events are organized to provide the social influential factor that further encourages change and helps avoid slacking off. The road to sustainable long-term changes may be a very rocky one for older generations with engraved and embedded practices and beliefs, resistant to change. For this reason, The Change Initiative also puts a good deal of investment and effort in educating and raising awareness amongst younger generations and children. Storytelling sessions, recycled arts and crafts workshops, and children’s events are organized monthly and visits to schools, both primary and secondary, are aimed at encouraging responsible consumerism and establishing strong foundational beliefs of the need to recognize individual roles and personal choices do actually lead to bigger implications and significant societal impact.
The Change Initiative is located at Al Barsha 1, Sheikh Zayed Road, near Ibis Hotel, opposite Wellington School. For more information visit www.thechangeinitiative.com
– Khamael Al Safi