In a climate that’s hot year-round, we’ll often grab a bottle of water without worrying about anything beyond quenching our thirst.
But one green-thinking teen is trying to change all that and get people thinking about the consequences of bottled water.
Julia Grifferty, an 18-year-old student at the American Community School, distributed reusable flasks to construction workers at her school in a bid to get them to ditch the plastic.
“I identified bottled water as a huge cause of carbon emissions,” explained Julia.
“We have three million labour workers in this country, and from research I know that they’re going to buy two bottles of water a day,” she added.
“These labourers may not be the ones using the most energy, but if you change this habit then the effects are going to reverberate.”
No stranger to sustainability, Julia set up her first green campaign ‘Boot the Bottle’ aged just 14, after being inspired to reduce waste in school.
“My first thought was that schools are a huge consumer of bottled water, so I wanted to make a change.”
After successfully getting her fellow students to swap their plastic for reusable containers, Julia is keen to spread the message to the wider community.
“My hope is to sow the seeds so that other schools and companies can provide for their labour force,” she explained.
“The UAE and other GCC countries are a model for the rest of the world because they started from scratch,” reflected Julia. “We’re a place where innovation can occur and we can show how modern society can be.”
Abu Dhabi Week NEWS http://abudhabiweek.ae/news-student-tests-water-on-sustainability/
Abu Dhabi Week - Message in A Bottle
Julia Grifferty, 16, created two campaigns: Boot the Bottle and Water for Workers.
It all started in 2011 at a Global Issues conference at American Community School (ACS), where Julia is a student.
Cameron Oliver – from Cameron’s Camels – was one of the speakers. “Watching Cameron speak at such a young age empowered me,” says Julia. “That’s when I thought that maybe I can start something like that myself” – and that’s when her idea for Boot the Bottle began to take shape.
Her campaign encourages people to swap plastic bottles for reusable ones and water dispensers. This campaign in turn gave rise to another one: Water for Workers, which aims to provide clean drinking water at labour camps, thus eliminating the use of plastic bottles.
Julia first focused on schools to get her message out there. She started with an awareness campaign at her own school and worked with ACS’s Green Team to ban the sale of bottled water by the catering company. In 2013 ACS became a plastic-free campus and each year sidesteps the consumption of 40,000 plastic bottles, thus preventing 10 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere every year.
In January 2014, she represented ACS at New York University Abu Dhabi’s environmental conference titled Biiah – which means ‘environment’ in Arabic. She became part of the Environmental Ambassadors team, which devised a plan to make schools more sustainable. Julia advocated strongly for Boot the Bottle to be administered across Abu Dhabi campuses.
In February she led the Environment Team at the Global Issues Conference where she ran the Passion to Action session with over 20 students from a variety of UAE schools.
The school year finished with a Tedx Youth talk titled ‘Why You Should Boot the Bottle’.
Julia is now trying to spread the word through various youth conferences including ECO SUMMIT 2015 and Roots and Shoots with Tara Golshan.
Abu Dhabi Week - http://abudhabiweek.ae/message-in-a-bottle/
The National – Jane Goodall Returns to the UAE
June 23 2015
" Julia Grifferty, 17, a Grade 11 pupil at American Community School, has kick-started a “Boot the Bottle” campaign in Abu Dhabi, persuading many pupils to switch to reusable water bottles."
January 19, 2016 Today, she tells children: “Push yourself towards what you love and hope other people encourage you.”
“That’s what my mum once told me, if you really want something – like I wanted to go to Africa and everybody else laughed at me, everybody except my mother, who said, ‘well then, you’re going to have to work really hard, take advantage of the opportunity and never give up.’ That’s what I did.” Julia Grifferty, 17, a pupil at the American Community School, says Dr Goodall’s message inspired her to launch a campaign to ban the sale of bottled water at her school.
The initiative, called Boot the Bottle, is expanding to more schools in the emirate.
“Our vision is we won’t stop, and like Jane Goodall says, you should never give up. You should have courage of your own conviction,” says Julia.
Other young attendees said that the event was an inspiration for them.
“The experts stressed the fact that young people hold the solutions towards making the world more sustainable, and this is a real encouragement for us to look for alternative, workable solutions,” said Julia Grifferty, a Grade 12 pupil from the United States.
November 21 2015 Under the theme of “Youth inspiring youth for environmental action”, the Biiah 2015 organizing committee envisions Biiah as an annual event that serves as a space to showcase the development of the UAE youth environmental movement, assess its development and discuss its future direction.
Panelist @ BIIAH Conference NYU AD
November 21 2015
Biiah featured a panel discussion where youth environmental leaders in the UAE discussed what impact youth have on shaping climate change policy, and ways of increasing the youth’s voice.
Julia Grifferty – Speaker at BIIAH
From a young age she has seen the potential that this city and country has to be the sustainable capital of the world. She believes sustainability can be simple but innovative, can improve quality of life and must include everyone in the community: youth, businesses and expatriate workers. Following the 2011 Global Issues Conference at ACS, Julia was inspired to create her currently running sustainability initiatives: Boot the Bottle Schools and the Ecocitizen: Labor Worker Project which involves turning labor accommodations into plastic free zones as well as teaching sustainable habits.
BIIAH @ NYU AD
The ACS Green Team leaders
The National – Social Entrepreneurship in the UAE
Julia said she thought of her business card as an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
“If you were dealing with other students, you don’t need it because there’s easily Facebook. But if you’re dealing with anyone above your age or who’s working, you need a business card,” she said.
“The point of taking out a card at the end is to make that connection.
“I think it’s about making a positive impact because the first thing they remember about you is what’s on your card. It’s like the elevator pitch on a card right there.