By Muaz Nasir
“Now, behold! Your Lord said to the angels: I am placing upon the earth a human successor to steward it” (Quran 2:30).
On the eve of 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 the Iftar meal. 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. 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 travelled hundreds if not thousands of kilometers. 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 or Iftar meals. 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 do have access to car and plan to drive to the nightly Taraweeh prayers, 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 across Canada 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.
For more articles like this, please visit Muaz Nasir’s Website below.