The holy Month of Ramadan is currently underway for Muslims around the world. Throughout the month, the process of fasting from sunrise to sunset is observed with thoughtful and spiritual reflection, along with charitable behaviour and actions. Spending time with family and friends is encouraged and in general, it is suggested that positive lifestyle changes are made.
According to Islamic belief, human beings have a responsibility of guardianship for planet Earth. With that in mind, Ramadan can be a perfect opportunity to contemplate how human actions are impacting our planet.
Daylight fasting is a challenge for most and there’s nothing better than knowing you can come home to a delicious iftar, the evening meal when the sun has set. While you’re at it, why not cook vegetarian dishes instead? Ramadan is a period to be caring and compassionate to the world around us, so it makes sense to reduce our meat intake. According to experts, the meat industry is responsible for the highest number of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, that’s over 51%. Rearing animals also requires so much land and water, with trees being cut down every day to make room for livestock. So what can you do about it? Make your Ramadan more eco-friendly with tasty veggie options.
Ramadan encourages a less materialistic lifestyle and focuses more on spirituality. So it’s a great time to unplug from all the devices you’re usually glued to, whether it’s your phone, TV, laptop or X Box. Not only will you be saving energy by cutting down on your electricity usage, you’ll feel the benefits mentally too. Sitting down to a good book, spending quality time with your loved ones or making something with your hands is far more rewarding than TV ever will be.
Food waste is a colossal problem all over the world. In just the UK, a very small country as it is, a staggering £13 billion of food is wasted each year. God advises Muslims to avoid waste as it suggests a lifestyle of excess and complacency. Over the fasting period, you can plan your meals and freeze them, so that you’re always using leftovers, rather than starting from scratch every evening. Keep a close eye on expiry dates too to make sure you are using up food before the time has run out. It is also worth finding your nearest foodbank to donate any unwanted supplies you have left in the cupboard afterwards. Use overripe fruit and veg to make smoothies and soups, and be mindful of how much water you are using too.
Whatever you eat, make sure it’s coming from an ethical source. That means putting thought into the brands you are buying and researching their sustainable credentials. Non-organic food has been sprayed with harmful pesticides, which negatively impact biodiversity in the world’s ecosystem. Equally, buying Fairtrade is just as important, as it addresses the injustices of food trade by offering farmers improved working conditions and a better price for their produce. Islam encourages justice in all forms, so this is a great way to ensure you have a more ethical Ramadan. Look out for Fair Trade symbols on tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, cocoa, olive oil and bananas.
During a time when you are cleansing your mind and body, it makes sense to do the same with your home and start afresh. In the same way that food waste is excessive, it’s likely you have material possessions you don’t want or use, that could be put to better use. Clear out your wardrobe and donate whatever you can to the local charity shop. Another idea is to share your clothes around by organising a clothes swap amongst friends. TIP: If you’re going for a spring clean once the house has been cleared, make sure you go for non-toxic cleaning products that are kinder to the environment, rather than those laden with chemicals. There are plenty to choose from, just have a closer look on the shelves.
From all at Living, we wish Muslims all around the world a prosperous and peaceful Ramadan, we hope you can make this special time as sustainable as possible with our handy tips. Ramadan Mubarak!
Words: Maeve Campbell