By Muaz Nasir
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” (Quran 2:30)
In Ramadan, there are five simple ways you can make this month more environmentally-friendly. All of these suggestions set the foundation for green habits that can be implemented year-round.
1. Eliminate Waste
This Ramadan, there has been a growing movement to eliminate the use of styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery to serve iftar (the meal after sundown that breaks the fast). Consider alternatives such as plant-based containers and plastics that are compostable or organize a litterless iftar where patrons bring their own containers. Also, try opting out of disposable water bottles. An estimated 88% of water bottles are not recycled in Canada and plastic bottles are the fastest growing segment of municipal solid waste in Canada.1 There are many reusable water bottle options from BPA-free plastic bottles to aluminum and stainless steel flasks that are both inexpensive and lightweight.
2. Purchase Local Produce & Organic Foods
In our globalized economy, most of the food that reaches our dinner plate has traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles. This Ramadan presents the perfect opportunity to get in touch with local farmers markets that are brimming with fresh produce. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint but you will also be supporting your local economy. Also, try experimenting with organic produce either at the suhur (the meal before starting the fast) or iftar. Organic foods taste different and generally contain no pesticides, herbicides, preservatives or other additives. Be sure to check that the product is certified and what selection criteria was used.
3. Reduce Energy Consumption:
There many ways to reduce your energy consumption throughout Ramadan. Turning the air conditioner on only when you are at home or sleeping will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and your energy bills. Closing open blinds, turning off lights, and using fans to circulate air will also keep your home cool. Similarly, at the mosque, keeping doors closed when the air conditioning is on and dimming the lights also reduces energy consumption as well.
4. Use Alternative Transit Options
If you have access to a car and plan to drive to the nightly taraweeh (the night prayer offered in Ramadan), try carpooling when possible. There are many youth and elderly within our community without access to a vehicle or reliable transit at night who would be more than grateful for a ride. Mosque parking lots tend to overflow with congregants during Ramadan, so the fewer number of vehicles actually increases traffic flow for everyone. Also, if you are within a reasonable distance from the mosque, consider taking advantage of the warm weather to ride your bike or walk to prayers.
5. Give A Green Donation
There are many environmental organizations that promote, educate, and conserve our natural resources. Consider making a donation this Ramadan to an environmental cause that resonates with you. Also, try becoming more involved in the political or policy making process by letting your elected leaders know that environmental issues are an important part of your faith and that you expect them to make it an important part of their platform as well.
Muaz Nasir holds a Masters degree in Environmental Studies specializing in Business and Environmental Relations from York University and the Schulich School of Business; he aims to raise the profile of environmental issues within the Canadian Muslim community.
Great article, that would benefit from having some facts and figures. I recall reading that after we use styrofoam for 20 minutes, it doesn’t decompose for hundreds of years (!). Use real plates, if not that, then paper. Also, try having family eat from one big platter, saves plates and dishwashing! Also contributes to closeness.
Just a few observations… For example replacing ‘Styrofoam’ with biodegradable containers is usually more expensive. I mean Stryofoam is way cheaper. And often people at community Iftars/bazaars/masjids are operating on a limited budget. Which makes styrofoam the more practical choice. [Especially when you are serving/selling in bulk! Economical factor]
Organic foods are also SO MUCH more expensive than non-organic ones…
As for Green Donations – I don’t know, I might get bashed for saying this but often times there are so many more pressing causes that need donations! Like this Ramadhan I think people should be pouring donations for Somalia…
So maybe you could post some ‘practical’ tips on how to be an eco-muslims, these pointers we have known since 5th grade! I know! I know! we are not supposed to criticize but I thought I would vent my opinions in the comment-box because I have noticed I am becoming immune to eco-articles because all they do is regurgitate similar ‘tips’ that you read in every other article 🙁
Also: ONE MAJOR ECO-TIP: BROTHERTS AND SISTERS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF WATER YOU USE FOR WUDHU! DONT LEAVE THE TAPS GUSHING! JazakAllah Khair, may Allah reward for going through the discomfort of using less water.
Mashallah! I would never have thought about taking care of the envirnment during Ramadan so thank you so much for presenting this idea in a very informative and easy to follow manner!
Um… eating less!
Alhamdulillah, simple and practical approach to a better green world.
Check our our website iA. We have a tool-kit available for download iA re: greening your Ramadan.
Not fully valid for Hot regions
Salam, thank you for the reminder!
I have a comment for “Wannabe Eco Muslim”. He said that our donations should be spent on the people of Somalia rather than in environmental causes. While I somewhat agree with him, it is ironic and sad because it is for the same lack of environmental consciousness that Somalia is partially suffering today! Do your research and you will realize that the countries that contribute the most to environmental degradation and global warming, (United States and China, are just two amongst many) are actually contributing to the drought and weather/climate changes in third world nations. So due to our over consumption, we are increasing the burden on our brothers and sisters in poorer regions of the world. Watch “An Inconvenient Truth” or read any environmental science journal article and you will learn that to be environmental friendly is a prevention measure of natural disasters and consequently, human life disasters. May Allah help us and guide us to what is right. Ameen.
I agree. We got one job when we got put here on earth, to look after it as khalifah. It’s not to get married, or to feed ourselves, or to have children, those are things we are told to do but isn’t our JOB on earth. the only thing more fundamental is worship, which is the purpose of creation.
Not to say we should stop donating to other causes, but we should view basic environmental causes as Islamically noble. Especially since, doing our human job successfully is the key to sustaining humankind’s continued prosperity on earth. Allah does not tell us to do something except that it benefits us anyway. All the things we use in our houses, all the food we eat, all the technology, all the waste we throw and excrete, is traceable back to nature. Without nature in healthy condition everything – everything – will fall apart.
thank you for highlighting the green message.
Please take a look at TAG http://www.ThinkAsGreen.com a grassroots effort to mobilize individuals, mosques, and organizations to live Green.
A grassroots effort to mobilize individuals, mosques, and organizations to live Green.
We have featured SPECIAL GREEN RAMADAN messages from Imam Zaid Shakir, Ustadh Nouman Khan, Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda, Baba Ali, Native Deen, Haroon Moghal, Sarah Jawaid and other prominent Muslim personality…
I am proud of Brother Muaz’s work… check out http://www.khaleafa.com and hope this green movement picks up the pace.
10 Ways to Become a Better Muslim – Environmentally speaking.
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