The green fields of Jordan's mountains are a rare sight in the concrete jungle.

Green and the City: Your Guide to Living Green in Amman

Living Green In Amman

Feature Image was taken by Ibraheem Al-Saady on the outskirts of Jerash.

Living Green in Amman should not only be about people, it’s also about plants, animals and the city as a whole complex system of bio-spherical interactions. In the past five years, Amman experienced a Green evolution and an environmental awakening as retaliation against the dropping air quality, the climate change and the energy crisis.

Living in a city that heavily relies on technology for almost everything can divert our attention from nature, and denies us the ability to remember that when it all boils down, we extract our wellbeing and health from nature itself. I know that it takes an effort to live green, so I created a useful list of simple ideas that you can take to begin thinking, acting, and living green in Amman.

Outside of Sakib, a village in Jerash governorate.
Outside of Sakib, a village in Jerash governorate.
Photograph taken by Ibraheem Al-Saady

 

The first step towards being a responsible green citizen is knowing the issues and taking the time to think about them. This includes picking a book or two about the environmental issues that face the city or by visiting one of the many environmental companies in Amman.

Entity Green, one of the leading companies in its field across the region, works closely with many organisations in Jordan to establish in-house recycling programmes. These include training, awareness sessions, auditing and collections.

The second approach, which you’ve probably heard a million times before in Jordan, is to save water; although the Kingdom’s name comes from the biblically important Jordan River, the country’s water problems are nothing new. The Greater Amman Municipality had been advertising a large multitude of campaigns to decrease water consumption, which shouldn’t come as a shock since the ever increasing population combined with the yet-to-be-cultivated limited water resources means that water is expensive and not always there; that’s why almost every Jordanian house or apartment comes equipped with a water tank that stores water for when it’s actually pumped once or twice a week by the city, this water is known as the baladié locally.

The dark knight on every Jordanian roof, the water tank.
Photograph taken from DandelionTraveler.com

With a long, rugged and almost exclusive mountainous terrain and a politically landlocked borderline, Jordan has no freshwater source, with the exception of groundwater aquifers. Yet, for a country with broad water problems, there is a water park in Amman that bills itself as an “exciting tropical oasis dotted with all the means of comfort, fun and relaxation.” Even more, almost “half of Amman’s water supply is ‘lost’ or unaccounted for somewhere in the nation’s distribution network,” according to USAID.

The Capital had been working hard in order to retrieve water sources, this includes an internationally successful establishment of The As-Samra wastewater treatment plant that help counterbalance the 70% of groundwater currently used for agricultural as well as the Disi Project which is near its completion after a four-year-long construction by the Turkish company GAMA Enerji and the American corporation, General Electric.

Just like the city, we citizens, need to do our part. The best thing we can do is to save water and energy consumptions. Water Day as colloquially known is the day when the city supplies water for people to each ration using their own reservoirs, however it becomes the Water Consumption Day; the hoses come out and everything that can get wet receive an abundance of excessive water by local homemakers and foreign domestic helpers, alike.

To do your part, limit your shower time. This is actually simple but very efficient to reduce your water consumption and ultimately your water bill. Another thing to consider is to install a low-flow shower head or faucet. The Greater Amman Municipality has been advertising them for over ten years; they don’t cost much and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back this small investment.

The final water consumption trick is to plant local plants in your garden instead of foreign water-devouring ones. Jordan is blessed with a variety of beautiful native plants that are intrinsically tolerant to the annual dry season between June and September. These native plants include the Large Ranunculuses, Chamomiles, Lupines and Jordan’s famous red Tulips. The Centre for the Study of Built Environment encourages the propagation of these plants and their website offers plenty of information.

A bee lands on a Bignonia in a suburb of Amman
A bee lands on a Bignonia in a suburb of Amman.
Photograph taken by Ibraheem Al-Saady

Saving electricity is as easy and inexpensive as saving water, some of the tips that you can do to save in your home is to use a rack instead of a dryer whenever you can, decreasing the energy consumption of washing machines by 80% simply by using cold water when possible, and finally switching all your bulbs to fluorescent ones. You’ll notice how quickly this cuts the notorious Jordanian electric bills by at least 30%.

Another major role one can play in making the air cleaner is to be smarter when it comes to transportation; Jordan’s gas prices are infamous for being one of the most expensive in the world, yet many of us drive big 4-wheel-drive cars that get stuck in traffic for hours every week and have large CO2 emissions (not to mention the nightmare of finding parking spots).

Consider switching your car to a Hybrid. You can always experiment with the local public transportation system which is relatively cheap and safe, create a car-pool programme at your work or school and by simply walking more often. In the long run, you’ll cut your ecological footprint on earth as well as save a lot of money.

The final step to living green in Amman is to recycle; this is perhaps the hardest and most strenuous step but it pays beautifully. Amman is comparatively one of the cleanest cities in the region and in the world compared to other cities its size. This comes due to the efforts of the municipality. Recycling is a boost in the right direction for the environment as a whole and the city as a part.

Cozmo's Recycling bins. Photo taken via: http://twitpic.com/1nzdma/full
Cozmo’s Recycling bins.
Photo taken via: http://twitpic.com/1nzdma/full

Jordan Environment Society has over 250 companies that have signed up for their services; they come into your place of business or home a few times a week or as often as needed and they accept paper, cans and plastics. Green Future for Sustainable Solutions works with homes and businesses alike and collect almost every type of recyclable there is, including home appliances and publications. And then there’s always Be Environmental which is located near the Cozmo complex, and Blue Fig  (courtesy of the Kingdom of the Netherland’s Embassy) which offer spaces for you to drop off your recyclables in specialised bins.

Jordan Environment Society (JES) Photo taken from JES' website.
Jordan Environment Society (JES)
Photo taken from JES’ website.

All these steps that I’ve pointed out will keep our city’s reputation as clean and will make your life easier, cleaner, and more breathable and organised. Go on and reduce your ecological footprints; the city will thank you, the country will thank you and the earth as a whole will provide you with more of its goods.

 

About Rick Hindi

When Rick isn't saving the world, he can be observed in his natural habitat near Paris Circle in Löweibdeh, forcefully teaching Norwegian grammar to people who have zero interest in linguistics, trying to stage a stray-cat uprising against the trash collectors, or finding enough courage to ask the geekiest girl in his vicinity on a date, only to be shot down anyway. Rick and his imaginary husband, a Skyrim NPC, are expecting their third baby this summer.

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