Abu Dhabi: Retail major, LuLu Hypermarkets & Supermarkets chain, in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland, has launched an innovative project to educate people about the perils of excessive use of plastic bags. The project named STOP (Super Teens Opposing Plastic Bags) involves school children of Abu Dhabi who help in spreading awareness about the various environmental issues stemming out of plastic bags. The formal launch of the project was held at Khalidiyah Mall and was attended by many prominent personalities from environment agencies and several Govt. authorities.
Elaborating about the concept, Ashraf Ali M. A., Executive Director of LuLu Group said, “As part of our CSR initiative we have always supported environmental issues and this is one such activity. Through this we intend to not only make the youngsters aware about the environmental issues but also involve them in spreading the message and playing a greater role in the betterment of the society.”
The project, which was soft launched late last year with Mrs. Joy Bruelhart, wife of the Swiss Ambassador, saw school children being given an awareness talk on environmental issues in general, and on the necessity of using re-usable bags instead of single use bags. They were then trained on interacting with the shoppers at LuLu Hypermarket’s cash counters (the very spot where plastic bags are used heavily) in order to persuade them to reduce the use of plastic bags and start using re-usable ones. The children pointed out to shoppers, the destruction which wanton use of these bags caused across the land and seas, and pleaded with them to make a small effort to preserve the environment for the generations to come.
According to Mrs. Bruelhart, a passionate environmentalist who first conceived this idea said, “The least we could do is stop using and dumping plastic bags. Instead we can simply start reusing our shopping bags”. Mrs. Bruelhart learned about reusable shopping bags in her native Switzerland, where it is a part of daily life, and she is keen to pass on the national habit in Switzerland to the UAE. She says that she gets a warm feeling whenever she comes from a shopping trip and replaces her bags in her car, as she knows that, in a small way, she has made a contribution towards preserving the environment of her host country. She is very proud of the work being done by these youngsters and wishes more and more adults will take their message seriously and “do their bit in making this campaign successful”.
LuLu Hypermarket was one of the first retail chains in the Middle East to switch to Oxo Biodegradable bags. These degrade much faster compared to the usual plastic bags, which take an average of 500 years to biodegrade and cause immense damage to the environment along the way. LuLu has also introduced re-usable bags in all their stores. The oxo-biodegradable bags are a less harmful option than the single-use bags, but the optimal solution is for shoppers to revert to purchasing a stock of reusable shopping bags and simply store them in their cars for shopping trips. They should also keep one of the smaller ones with them for purchasing individual items.
Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), who is committed to protecting and managing biodiversity, providing a clean environment and promoting Sustainable Development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is supporting this initiative and will be actively involved in spreading this message across more schools in Abu Dhabi in the coming months.
Amyr Hamza, an 11th grader who has been an active member of “STOP”, right from day one, said, “This project has made me and my friends aware about environmental issues which we never used to think of before. Now that we are involved in this project and able to contribute towards environmental preservation, it’s a great achievement for each one of us.” According to him, majority of the shoppers have given a positive response to the initiative and expressed interest in being a part of it.
Team STOP was honored with the Swiss Ambassador's Challenge Award and certificate for the year 2012 during the launch ceremony. The team usually conducts its campaign at peak shopping times after their school hours and on weekends and spends many hours at different cash counters talking to shoppers.
“Though this started as a small concept, we are extremely pleased with the response we have been receiving from all stakeholders and are fully committed to supporting this project across all our stores in the region” added Nandakumar V., Corporate Communications Head at LuLu Hypermarket Group.
LuLu currently runs 103 retail stores across the region and is a proud recipient of the Dubai Quality Award and has always been an able partner in supporting various Govt. initiatives.