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.