DUBAI // Dozens of volunteers yesterday transformed old newspapers into paper bags to demonstrate how easily waste can be converted into eco-friendly products.
The Bag the Waste event was organised by the National Geographic Abu Dhabi television channel and the Volunteer in Dubai group on the eve of Earth Day, an annual celebration of the natural environment that is marked around the world today.
The volunteers gathered at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road and were joined by a group from Abu Dhabi, who left the capital at 6.30am. The bags were distributed to grocery stores to be used instead of environmentally harmful plastic carriers.
One of the Abu Dhabi contingent, Bindiya Fernandez, 26, an Indian who works in human resources, was drawn to the event because of her concern for the environment.
"I'm the sort of person who, any time I leave a room, by force of habit, I have to switch off the lights," she said. "I hate leaving water running, so the environment is something that is very close to my heart.
"I'm proud to be able to do something like this. A friend of mine and I came and once we got here everyone was just one big family. We're really having a good time."
Also taking part was Rahma Salim Banihammad, a 22-year-old Emirati who runs a business from her home in Dubai. She is a firm believer in the value of volunteering.
"I wanted to do something different that might help the country to evolve, and volunteering is a good idea," she said. "Whatever you give comes back to you, so when you help people you should know that if you need help some day it will come back to you."
Athreyan Sundararajan, director of marketing at National Geographic Abu Dhabi, said: "There are massive projects in the region like Masdar, but this is about how ordinary people can make a difference."
The television channel - which is operated by Abu Dhabi Media, publisher of The National, and National Geographic Channels International - will be marking Earth Day by running 24 hours of programmes about environmental sustainability today.
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