If Al Khaaliq, The Creator, has created all of this world and the life upon it, shouldn’t we strive to protect it? By trying to improve my environmental footprint, I have found a stronger and higher relationship with my Lord. This Ramadan, I hope you will join me in adding being mindful of our impact to our list of good intentions. Here are a few things that you can do:
Reduce Food Waste
Ramadan is a month of restriction and self-restraint but also can become a month of gluttony and huge food waste. The rise in food waste during Ramadan should be an oxymoron but is a sad reality. So what can we do to combat it?
- Make a menu for the next two weeks: Create your shopping list based off of that. It stops the temptation of the offer section and, more importantly for right now, to buy more than you need so that there are provisions to go around.
- Freeze fruit and veg that is going off: There are so many items you can freeze, bananas, onions, garlic, ginger…chop them up, put them in a bag, flatten them out, and wack it into the freezer for your next smoothie, curry, stew, or pasta.
- Reduce meat intake: The rise of meat demand during Ramadan is said to increase by 50% in Muslim majority countries. It’s easy to fall into a trap of wanting to make every meal “special”. Consume what you are used to. Go all out for Eid, for sure.
Make some positive kitchen switches
Yes, I know, things are hard enough as it is right now but maybe this time is also a blessing to make new habits. Here are some easy ones to begin with:
- Fruit and veg: Can you go package free? Pick stuff up at your local market, get a fruit and veg delivery, opt for the loose carrots over the bagged ones to reduce your waste.
- Tea and Coffee: Everyday items like tea and coffee are good places to start asking questions about workers and their conditions. Are they paid well and are they safe? What rights and benefits do they have? How have the companies protected them during Covid-19?
- Tea: Loose leaf tastes better. Don’t at me. One of my favourite local brands is Good and Proper Tea. Once you’re done with it, throw it in the compost heap or food bin.
- Coffee: If you haven’t got a coffee pod machine, keep it that way. If you have, look for those that are a bit better for the world- ideally compostable, that set off their carbon footprint, and are package free. Here are a few to get started with. Once you’re done with it, throw it in the compost heap/food bin.
- Milk: If you’re a dairy drinker, milk floats are back in fashion! Get glass bottles delivered to and collected from your doorstep. They can be a bit more expensive but I’ve found them to be comparable to my local (London) corner store.
- Oat Milk: If you drink oat milk like me, ditch Oatly and make it yourself! Using a food processor, blitz water and oats (and maybe some salt). Strain it through a cloth of your choice or, like me, just let anything heavy sink to the bottom of the glass bottle you’re storing it in.
Making the house look lovely for Ramadan and Eid is a beautiful tradition. Right now, it’s also an extra activity to get the kids involved in. So how can we make it less wasteful:
- Reuse decorations from previous years. If you need to buy some, buy ones that will last. Check out independent crafters for quality purchases.
- Create your own from packaging. Cereal boxes, toilet rolls, and milk bottles are all great starting points. Get those banners created and table settings made! Check out Pinterest for ideas.
- Create your own from foliage.
- Create your own from food- meringue wreaths have become a firm favourite in my house.
Make some positive bathroom switches. Bathrooms are some of the worst places for package accumulation. There is rubbish everywhere! We all have stuff that is months out of date or that we won’t ever use.
- Finish what you have first: If you already have it in the house, don’t waste it. Use it up and then dispose of it responsibly! How? See below:
- Dispose of your bathroom waste responsibly: Most things, sadly, can’t go in the recycle bin and the symbols at the back of products are purposefully misleading. One of the best places to dispose of stuff is TerraCycle. They have free recycling programmes with lots of different brands, such as Deciem, where you can drop off all your packaging (usually from any brand!) and they do all of the hard work of separating for you. You can order a box to your house from TerraCycle but it is quite expensive. I did do it once, considered the cost my environmental tax, and then started with my package free bathroom.
- Switch to soap bars: You don’t need plastic dispensers or gel in a bottle. This is marketing, friends.
- Shampoo and Conditioner: OK, this requires some experimentation and time to find something that works. Most shampoo bars just haven’t worked for me. I’ve had a couple from Lush which have been hit and miss, one currently from Friendly Soap which is OK, and one I bought at a random market which was excellent. I like conditioners that have seaweed. A firm favourite in the Bio Energiser Conditioner from Haeckels. It’s definitely not cheap. Lush has some great conditioners at a good price point. It runs a recycling scheme for their black pots that lets you return their packaging for cleaning and reuse so you’re not constricted to just bars here.
- Wipes: You can get excellent reusable wipes made from bamboo or you can get something like the Face Halo. I saw an excellent tip somewhere that breast pads are basically the same thing as large cotton pads… just passing the tip on.
Gifts and presents
Giving and receiving presents is such a joy, especially with children. However, panic buying or buying because you “have to” leads to a lot of waste.
- What do they need? Asking someone (or their parents!) what they are in need of is a great way to reduce waste. Maybe it’s a few things and you choose one so there is still that element of surprise.
- DIY gifts: This quarantine period is a great opportunity for crafting gifts for children. Hours of entertainment and creativity! Putting packs together with materials and packaging you have at home, plus some colours/paints/tape…make a lovely gift.
- Money: If all else fails, money is always a better alternative than buying a bath set they’re never going to use.
- Where are you buying from? Independent businesses could really do with your money right now. This includes bookshops! It may take a little bit longer to shop around than chucking in a large Amazon order, but it’s so worth it.
- Wrapping: You don’t need wrapping paper. Ever. Period. Wrapping paper is not recyclable and creates a lot of unnecessary waste. Newspaper is an excellent alternative and if you want that vintage vibe, use a copy of the Financial Times. You could also use cloth, boxes and gift bags you have lying around the house or a shawl that you don’t use anymore.