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Reflections on “No Thanks: An Exhibition About Sustainability” by Up-fuse & Urbn

Last May, we held our first “No Thanks!” event in collaboration with Urbn.  The exhibition about sustainability was held at Caravanserai Art Space in Zamalek, Cairo. As a socially and environmentally responsible company we see it as part of our mission to create awareness about sustainability, and reminding consumers to shop consciously. Next to highlighting today’s waste issue, our aim was to show visitors eco-friendly alternatives they can easily integrate into their daily lives. By committing to a ‘less is more’ approach, we can positively impact the environment simply by saying “No Thanks!”

The exhibition was divided into different sections, demonstrating how much waste we generate on a daily basis, from plastic waste, to water waste, to even fashion waste.  As an example of extensive water waste, we displayed the average usage of water consumed by one person brushing their teeth and letting the tab run versus a closed tab.

water waste when brushing your teethA display showing the average usage of water consumed by one person brushing their teeth.

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Plastic Bags Installation at No Thanks Exhibition by Urbn
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Wall of Shame; a Display of one couple’s plastic bottles consumption in one month only

Throughout the event, we screened two eye-opening movies and hosted interesting talks related to the topics sustainability, pollution, waste and nature.

The documentary Plastic Ocean was screened and discussed at the opening night. The movie reveals  how plastic has drastically ruined our oceans. Apart from all the visible plastic trash, micro-plastics have made their way into the ocean, negatively affecting marine life, the ecosystem and thereby also us and our own health. (PS: If you’re interested to see the movie, you can watch it on Netflix, purchase it from their website, or contact us if you’d like us to host a film screening event for you!)

fashion industry pollution

As the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, we decided to also film screen “The True Cost”. The film shows the negative impact fast fashion has on the environment and society, reminding us of the importance of sustainable fashion. (You can read our last year’s film screening event about the True Cost on Fashion Revolution Week here)

To give visitors an opportunity to make a first step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, we offered them to drop off their used plastic bags for Up-fuse to upcycle. Additionally we had a collecting point for clothe donations for the Egyptian Clothing Bank, so people can get rid of their unwanted clothes instead of throwing them away.

clothes donationCollecting point for clothing donations

Not to mention our own Up-fuse pop up shop!

Besides the film screenings, we had several interesting talks from different sectors. We had Mohamed Sallam give a talk about Pollution in Space and its long term consequences in space. Sallam is the only Arab astronaut candidate in Mars One; a program that aims to establish on the Red Planet by 2031. He is a regular speaker on scientific matters including space exploration and extra-terrestrial human settlements.

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Mohamed Sallam talking about Pollution in Space

Another speaker was Amira Ayman, a Cairene leading a plant-based, low waste lifestyle, who started UrbanEarthlings.com with the aim of building a community that inspires ethical living. With her passion and experience, Amira talked about how she changed her lifestyle, and what small steps any consumer can take to decrease their everyday waste, for example by using reusable bottles, cups, shopping bags, and even straws!

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Amira Ayman talking about Conscious Consumption

Noor gave such an interesting talk about nature in Cairo, different kinds of birds, animals, and plants. These are major factors indicating the pollution level in certain areas in Cairo, and each of them affects the ecosystem. (Did you know that we have green parrots in Cairo? I was surprised too!) If you would like to find out more about Noor’s projects visit Nature Conservation Egypt.

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Noor Noor from Nature Conservation Egypt, giving a talk about Nature in Cairo

Last but not least we hosted  Seba Khana, giving an  amazing talk I personally enjoyed the most. She talked about the nature of  women’s menstrual cycle and its eco-friendly solutions. Most importantly she highlighted how current disposable solutions (like pads and tampons) are not just bad for the environment, but even affect our own health. Seba pointed out how using remedies that are more natural comprehend to our well being. Often what women consider as “normal” (for example period pain) during the menstrual cycle is actually “common” but not at all “normal”. Switching to menstrual cups might actually be a much better option for your health and for the environment!

no-thanks-sustainability-sebaSeba Khana, health practitioner and yoga instructor

All in all it was a pleasure having each and every person attend, or speak! It was definitely a great collaboration with Urbn to bring this exhibition to life!

Alia, founder of Urbn & Rania,co-founder of Up-fuse
Alia and Shahd, Urbn team
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Audience

There are plenty of things that we might be aware of regarding the environment, but we just never know where and how to start! Just remember that even every small action can make a difference. Here’s a small list of what to say “No Thanks” and what to “Yes Please!”

List of reusable things vs. plastic

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