10 Ways to Green Your Ramadan

A Green Ramadan is an opportunity to remember and respect our planet which, through the grace of Allah, provides us with the sustenance with which we nourish our bodies and community spirit during a month of fasting. Interacting mindfully with our environment is simply a manifestation of faith. As we refrain from food and drink this blessed Ramadan, let us reaffirm our sense of self-restraint and accountability to the Creator, the Provider of Sustenance.

  1. Eat Local & Organic. How much greenhouse gasses were emitted for that huge box of medjool Saudi dates to reach your house? Shop for local, seasonal produce at local farmer’s markets. Local foods are often more fresh, taste better and help us keep in touch with the seasons. When we eat local foods, we support our local economies and our food has a shorter distance to travel, helping to reduce pollution. If you’re having a potluck, challenge your guests to use ingredients from within 100 miles of their home, from the potatoes and tomatoes, to the garlic and onions.
  2. Use Re-usables. As many plates, cups, napkins, and utensils as possible should be reusable, and if not reusable, compostable and/or recyclable. If you can’t use proper dishes and utensils, use dishwasher-safe, renewable products from Preserve or Bambu that can be found in your local markets. Donate cloth napkins that you’ve made from old clothing or purchased from eco-sites like ReUseIt.com. Explore the possibility of renting dinnerware from a local restaurant. Consider donating to Green Muslims’ IftaRRR initiative, partnering with area masajid to reduce waste generated during Ramadan iftar celebrations. Use beverages in aluminum cans and glass bottles: they are more easily recycled than plastic. Serve foods that can be easily eaten “sunna-style” with the fingers. Using real cutlery and tableware reduces the trash that goes into our landfills.
  3. Serve Products With Less Packaging. Avoid prepared foods that have throw-away plastic spoons, stirrers or bowls. Instead of individual bottles of water, use a pitcher of water. Make sure to recycle what packaging you can, but less packaging means less waste going to landfills.
  4. Make Recycling Easy. Make bins to sort trash visible and readily available. Make an announcement, post signs, and have “recycling ambassadors” make sure items go in the proper bin. Have one bin for food waste that can be taken to a compost bin; the second for recyclables such as glass and aluminum cans; and the third for regular trash.
  5. Go Vegetarian. Vegetables and fruits are always zabiha. At the least, reduce the amount of meat served. High meat consumption is one of the largest contributors to global warming. If you must have meat, have only one meat dish, use meat sparingly, or only as a garnish. In addition, use meat that is not only halal, but organic. When serving seafood, make sure it is sustainably grown. Having at least one vegetarian iftar a week is better for our health and the planet.
  6. Encourage Guests to Travel Green. Give door-prizes or party favors to those who carpool, use public transportation, bike or walk to the iftar. Green gifts like the Green Deen book; a cup of fair-trade, organic coffee from a local coffee shop; freshly baked cookies made from organic flour and rainforest-friendly chocolate; or cloth shopping bags are inexpensive but sustainable ways to make the reward for living gently on the earth more immediate.
  7. Clean Up Green. Use biodegradable cleaning products to wash tableware and napkins and for general cleanup of tables and counters, or make your own from common household products like vinegar and baking soda. For whatever trash you do have — hopefully not much — use biodegradable trash bags. When we use environmentally friendly cleaning products our indoor environment is less toxic and fewer hazardous chemicals are released into the air and waste water streams.
  8. Make Wudhu Like the Prophet. Make it a habit to be more mindful of water consumption this Ramadan. Instead of running the water on full throttle, set the faucet to a trickle and make a thorough wudhu with as little water as possible. Not only does it save on water, but it makes bathroom clean-up easier.
  9. Make the CF Light Bulb Change. Typically during Ramadan we spend a lot more time at our local masajid/mosques or community centers. Donate a compact florescent light bulb to your local masjid or community center so when we burn the midnight oil for those long tarawih prayers or spend those blessed nights in worship, we are using less energy and saving money.
  10. Make Dua. Never underestimate the power of prayer. Ask Allah to assist us in healing our planet and — combining faith with action — help us to be agents of change in making our planet a healthier, sustainable, and more beautiful world-community.

Wherever you find yourself having iftar this Ramadan share with others, through words and actions, how Green Ramadans are better for our planet. Have a goal of making each iftar a zero-waste event.

“The faithful servants of the Beneficent
are those who walk upon the earth gently…”

(Surah Al Furqan 25:63)

10 thoughts on “10 Ways to Green Your Ramadan

  1. Pingback: “Ramadan Buffets” – an oxymoron? « The Green Bush – My two cents worth as a Muslim and Environmentalist

  2. Thank you for the timely reminder! I’ve tried in the past to make green suggestions to my local mosque and, while they were understanding, they often cited styrofoam and plastic to be the cheapest and easiest alternative for feeding the masses. However, with creativity and commitment, we can discover alternatives together. For example, families can bring their own plates,cups, and silverware to iftar meals. I’ve seen even less green awareness in the “Muslim world” but I hope that we are still brave enough to set healthy, prophetic, Creator and creation-conscious choices no matter where we tred.

    • excellent suggestions, eternitysojourner. green muslims in this area are even donating reusables. it takes one person at a time to care and try make a difference. and of course, masjids like it even better when suggestions are partnered with $$$ and donations!

  3. Many thanks – shukran jazilan – jazakAllah khayran for the article. Some thoughts:

    – Being green can be expensive or impossible. For sure, less convenient. For example, your example of Saudi Medjool (it’s awesome you were specific cause that propelled this quest) led me to Google my local farmers markets. I typically don’t go to them because I think/assume/presume from scanty prior experiences that they’re more expensive. By the mere fact that they’re not open from 9am-9pm, 7 days a week, they’re less convenient. But suppose I just want to support sustainable growth overall and go to Amazon- then I’d have to take into consideration further shipping expenses (and carbon emissions). Lastly, and probably most importantly, according to this NPR story (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15282847):

    Most U.S. dates — 95 percent — are grown in California’s Coachella Valley.

    So in this one very important case, they’re virtually impossible to get local. What to do?

    – Using reusables. All on board, except hosting large iftars: 15, 50, 100 guests – that’s a lot of dishwashing (the very important cost-benefit on hand-washing – precious time – or dishwashing – electricity/soap costs and scale). And I’m board for compostable and recyclable – but again, more expensive. At least at my local supermarket… To really compel me, the organizations I help manage iftar, my community to go green, find me comparatively cheap green necessities. Cheap being the key word.

    – Go vegetarian. I like this, on-board! But wait- where am I going to get my protein? There’s multiple personalities at iftars and possible complaints – for aunties, no meat = cheap, for young body builders = you’ll hurt my lift, for uncles = not even a discussion, etc. (stereotypes yes, but true no?). So the strategy can be to identify find healthy, tasty alternatives – culturally rich for the aunties and uncles, scientifically proven for the youth

    – Lastly, completely on board for number 10: لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله

    Thanks again for all your efforts- Ramadan Kareem!

    • i see you actually read the post, ftc68! thanks. if you can’t get things local, i suggest getting it as close as possible. as far as the trade-off between the cost of green alternatives vs. cheap expendables, i believe it’s a matter of perspective. we are so used to doing what’s easy rather than doing what is ethical as stewards of this earth. we’ve gotta be creative, right? take it back to the sunna: eat sunna style off a big platter. sounds like fun, right! if you can’t go vegetarian, just do it every once in a while. i’ve heard of folks who are weekday vegetarians and only eat meat on the weekends. where’s the no-meat protein? beans & lentils (e.g. garbanzo, pinto beans, refried beans), nuts & seeds (e.g. peanuts, walnuts, pistachios), and even veggies (e.g. avocado, peas, spinach). much of the world eats a LOT less meat than us westerners. and depending on how you season it, meat substitutes like TVP, seitan, tofu and tempeh can even fool auntie and uncle. thanks again for your comment and ramadan mubarak!

  4. Pingback: Good Tree Village Ramadan Challenge 2012 | Good Tree Village

  5. In my small Ohio town, we have California medjool dates readily available. They’re quite good, and ordered in bulk, are significantly cheaper than the Saudi dates we’ve always gotten. Not everyone will accept the California version, but it can at least make a dent in the amount of dates imported.

    And, for those of us who don’t require dates to make a proper iftaar, there’s tons of fresh, local fruit this time of year. Dates are nice, but I’ll take local blackberries and peaches over dates any day.

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