Graphic by Tom Abi Samra

Reducing Your Plastic Use at NYUAD: A Guide

The choices you can make on campus and in the UAE to reduce plastic waste.

Dec 2, 2018

No Waste November is ending, but that does not mean that our sustainable habits have to. While it might be hard to sustain major life changes like going vegan or giving up single-use plastics, there are small, easy changes that we can make in our daily lives and product choices that can make a big difference in our individual impact on the planet. Disposable plastic is such an integrated part of our daily lives that we don’t even realize how much we throw away, and while recycling when we can is a good initial step, the most efficient way to reduce our environmental impact is to find plastic replacements.
So why is plastic so bad for the environment?
On Nov. 24 over 100 students from NYU Abu Dhabi and the wider Abu Dhabi community came together to look for nurdles on Saadiyat Beach. Nurdles are small plastic pellets that are used to make every type of plastic we see around the world. These nurdles can spill in transit and cause harm to marine life and coastal environments, highlighted by the fact that this weekend’s nurdle hunt collected over 11,000 nurdles in just half an hour. Plastic pollution from nurdles and other trashed plastics is one of the largest threats to the oceans today.
How can we reduce our plastic usage here on campus?
It may seem that sustainable living is harder in the UAE, where the Convenience Store overflows with plastic wrappers and West Dining Hall delivery is at our fingertips, but by following this guide we can become a beacon of student-led sustainability. This guide aims to provide easy and creative ideas for reducing your plastic usage through products you can find here in Abu Dhabi and simple changes in habits.
Products Available in the UAE
Reusable shopping bags, which are available for purchase at Carrefour in Yas Mall
Reusable water bottles, which are also for sale in Carrefour and at the Magrudy’s bookstore on campus Bamboo Toothbrush
Reusable beeswax wrap food wrapper available at Organic Foods & Cafe in Nation Towers Galleria
Second-hand clothes at the thrift stores on the first floor of Al Yousuf Centre on Hamdan Street
Reusable Ziplock bags at Debenhams in Yas Mall
Habits You Can Change
Drink loose leaf tea rather than using tea bags
When ordering delivery, say no to plastic cutlery and use your own at home
Choose laundry detergent in a box, not a bottle
Avoid microbeads in your face washes, hand soaps and other personal hygiene products
Choose razors with metal handles rather than plastic ones
Use wire or wood clothes hangers
Switch to e-billing rather than having bills mailed to you
Avoid snacks with excessive plastic packaging
Use sustainable menstrual products like menstrual cups
Choose products made from recycled material
Buy products in bulk instead of individually-wrapped ones
Reduce the amount of takeout and delivery you order for meals
Buy a reusable straw, mug and bag and keep them with you in your school bag or purse when you go out. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle will likely be easier than you ever expected. With a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can truly make a difference and inspire others to follow suit.
Editor's Note: This guide was created with the Office of Community Outreach, Arabella Willing and Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots.
Killian Dumont is a contributing writer. Email her at
gazelle logo