Ramadan is an important spiritual month for Muslims. It’s a time when we remember Allah (SWT), worship Him and thank Him for all He has blessed us with. Alhamdulillah!
However, for many of us, it’s also a time of increased spending, increased eating come iftar time and increased consumption.
As Muslims, we’ve been instructed to look after the Earth by Allah (SWT). In the Holy Qur’an, He tells us:
Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption. (2:60)
Sadly, our increased consumption is having the opposite effect of what Allah (SWT) requested. We’re destroying the planet and worsening the impact of climate change.
We all have a responsibility to look after Allah’s beautiful Creation – the plants, animals and each other. So this Ramadan, let’s think about how we can better care for the planet.
Here are our 11 ways to have an environmentally-friendly Ramadan, an Eco-Ramadan.
1. Go meat-free for a fortnight
We all know how much meat we eat during Ramadan – especially at iftar time. Lamb samosas, chicken tikka, kebab – yep, it’s meat, meat, meat!
As Muslims especially, we’re at the top of the meat-eating scales.
British Muslims make up 5% of the population in the UK yet we actually account for 20% of meat consumption. That’s astonishing, and not in a good way!
Did you know that eating meat is one of the biggest ways we’re polluting the planet? In fact, meat and dairy products today account for 15% of global carbon emissions.
The reality is: the more meat we eat, the more we’re polluting the planet. And during Ramadan, this problem only gets worse…
But – you can turn this around!
Join us this Ramadan and take part in our Meat-Free Fortnight Challenge.
Sign up here and commit to going meat-free for the last 14 days of Ramadan – yep that’s no meat for 14 days!
By reducing your intake of meat, you’ll be reducing carbon emissions and protecting Allah’s great earth. And don’t forget: the more people taking part, the greater the impact.
What’s more, we’ll be planting trees with the proceeds from your sponsorship money – so that’s a double win for the planet!
So, what have you got to lose? Sign up today!
2. Waste less, save more!
When we throw away food and drink unnecessarily, we waste nutrients, time and money. Not to mention the fact that the food has often travelled from field, to aeroplane or lorry, to a shop and then to our table… that’s a lot of air miles for something to just be discarded.
So we’re also committing to not buying new unnecessary produce – it just creates further carbon emissions. Think of the transport of goods, the packaging, the chemicals used in these processes and so on.
Allah (SWT) tells us in the Holy Qur’an:
O Children of Adam, take your adornment at every place of prayer, eat and drink, but be not excessive – Indeed Allah likes not those who commit excess. (7:31)
So this Ramadan, let’s be mindful of our consumption:
- Shop and plan sensibly: Don’t buy too much food! By planning your meals (and therefore your shopping list) carefully, you’ll make things a lot easier when your energy levels are low. You’ll know what you’re cooking, when you’ll be making it and exactly how much of it you need. You’ll therefore be ensuring that you’re not preparing too much food and that as little food as possible goes to waste
- Re-use and reheat leftovers: By keeping leftovers out of the bin and in your fridge, you’ll save cooking time and the planet. Remember: leftovers make a very quick suhur when we’re tired and it’s very early in the morning!
- Compost natural waste: Anything you can’t make into another dish or stock, add to a homemade compost heap in your garden and let nature do the hard work. If you don’t have a garden, make sure that you are signed up to your local Council’s composting scheme. You’ll reap the blessed rewards!
During Ramadan in particular, we’re short on time and energy for cooking, shopping and preparing meals. So, by following these tips you’ll be able to save both time and energy for yourself and your family and help look after the planet!
3. Decorate your home eco-style
We all love the spirit of Ramadan and for many of us that includes decorating our homes for the holy month. Balloons, banners and paper bunting are all favourites – especially among children.
However, many of the decorations we buy contain plastic or glitter and contribute to environmental damage. It’s therefore important to be mindful of what we’re using to decorate our homes with.
Here’s how you can decorate your home for Ramadan with as little impact on the planet as possible:
- Avoid plastic: Whatever you do, PLEASE do not go out and buy balloons and plastic decorations. By using items you already have at home (see below), you can make your own great decorations – simple!
- Recycle tins: Make your own special Ramadan lanterns using recycled tin cans and string to hang them. Paint your own designs or stick on paper decorations to add a personal touch!
- Re-use paper and card: Instead of buying paper bunting, why not make your own? Dig out scrap paper from the office and with a pair of scissors, some string and glue stick, the only limit is your imagination!
Why not test your crafting skills and give these ideas a go?- You’ll add to the Ramadan spirit in no time!
4. Be creative with your gifts
Ramadan, and of course Eid, are a time when many of us share gifts with our loved ones. Giving gifts is a great way to show our love for one another. And of course, it’s also a great way to show our love for the environment.
By switching our gifting habits we can ensure that we’re looking after the planet and cutting pollution, whilst also sharing the love.
Make your gifts more eco-friendly by adopting these simple tricks:
- Try home-made: Fast fashion is killing the planet. So, instead of buying something online for your loved one to wear on Eid, why not make something at home? How about knitting or crocheting something to wear? Or getting out a needle and thread or a sewing machine and making something from scratch?
- Get crafty: How about making a natural, beautiful crafted gift? Home-made scented soaps, candles and body scrubs all make great gifts and require no plastic, whilst making the most of toxic-free natural ingredients. What’s more, making something from scratch provides a great activity at home to do with the children
- Keep to minimal wrapping: Whatever you choose to give, avoid using excess wrapping paper and plastic packaging. Why not go “shabby chic” and use brown paper with string? You could try a glass jar with some beautiful ribbon or why not even create a little hamper by decorating a lovely box and adding some ribbon and a little name tag? It’s your chance to get creative – it’s both fun and environmentally friendly
- Switch to an eco-supplier: If you do choose to buy your gifts, switch to more eco-friendly suppliers who commit to fairer trading practices and more environmentally-friendly processes and products. Visit our guide to sustainable shops and see how you can purchase more environmentally-friendly clothes this Ramadan
5. Cut your use of plastics
Plastic bags, packaged food, children’s toys – plastic is everywhere. And it’s an environmental threat, harming humans and wildlife.
Scientists estimate that every year, eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. As a result, plastic has been discovered in 100% of sea turtle species and 60% of all seabirds.
To put this into perspective, scientists estimate that by 2050, there’ll be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. When we eat fish, we’re consuming plastic, whilst land-based animals who consume plastic can even die.
It’s therefore critical that we cut our use of plastics. So this Ramadan try these simple tips to go more natural and less-plastic:
- Shopping: Take your own bags to avoid plastic bags at the till. When buying fresh fruit and veg, bring your own fabric bags so you don’t have to use individual plastic bags when bagging items. Where possible buy loose items or goods in tins or glass containers, rather than plastic packaging
- Toiletries: Switch to plastic-free alternatives such as soap bars and re-use any plastic bottles/tubs that you currently have by using them to store home-made toiletries. There are also toilet roll suppliers who don’t use plastic to wrap their rolls – try using them too
By making small changes, you can make a big difference and help protect the planet.
6. Buy more local produce
A huge way we can reduce our carbon footprint is by buying less imported/transported food and switching to local farmers’ shops/markets.
Sometimes it feels as though this produce is more expensive, but it’s less damaging to our great planet. So isn’t it a price worth paying?
A staggering 40% of food in the UK is imported from abroad, with 1/5th of fresh produce coming from countries vulnerable to “climate breakdown”.
Imagine the packaging, the air miles and all the vehicles involved in bringing such food to our tables. By heading to a local farmers’ market, you can buy fresh produce without the worry of air pollution and production-related pollution.
From eggs and cheeses to fruit and vegetables, there’s lots on offer and by going local, you’ll be helping farmers and small businesses in the process.
There are around 650 farmers’ markets in the UK. So, have a look online or in local social media groups to see what’s happening in your area and enjoy trying out tasty fresh goods!
7. Get active!
We all know what it’s like when we’re tired, hungry and thirsty… It’s a lot easier to pop to the shops in the car than walk when you’re fasting.
But: if we really want to reap the rewards of Ramadan, let’s not forget our responsibility to Allah’s Creation. With cars come pollution.
Here in the UK, 18% of carbon emissions come from cars. So, by switching to cycling or even a good old fashioned walk, we can get some exercise and keep healthy and protect the environment at the same time.
Try a walk to the shops earlier on in the day when you’ve got more energy. It’s a great form of exercise and a good way to break up your routine too!
8. Become energy savvy
Ramadan is often a time of long hours’ awake and little sleep. From praying tahajjud and getting up early for suhur, to perhaps even staying up all night from maghreb to fajr.
Whatever our habits, for most of us, our normal sleeping patterns definitely change. And this is something to be mindful of when it comes to the environment.
Imagine all the extra lighting we’re using when we’re staying up and sleeping less. Picture the extra hours of TV when we’re tuning into Makkah live before maghreb time and then when we leave the TV when we rush for iftar.
Yes, it all makes a difference. It all adds up and contributes to our carbon footprint.
So, why not switch to a more environmentally-friendly energy supplier? Find out more here about how to make the switch.
Don’t forget, if you’re up late, why not also embrace the spiritual atmosphere by switching to candle lanterns Moroccan style? There’s nothing quite as calming and soothing!
Lastly, please make sure you’re not keeping TVs, computers and other electrical devices on standby or plugged into the mains when the battery is already full.
This really does drain energy and is harmful to the environment.
Here in the UK, 8% of electricity usage actually comes from appliances left in standby mode. When you leave an appliance in standby mode, it uses up 90% of normal power usage.
So, when you’re not using a device, please switch it off at the mains. You’ll be helping the planet. Plus, think about it: you’ll also save on electricity bills!
9. Switch to dairy-free
In addition to cutting down on the amount of meat we eat, another huge way we can stem the tide of climate change is by cutting down on dairy products.
Now for some, this may sound rather daunting. But, it’s easier than you think.
With many dairy alternatives out there and other foods we can use instead of dairy/dairy-substitutes, there’s nothing to worry about!
Try these small switches to make a huge environmental difference:
- Milk: Switch to oat, almond, coconut or hazelnut milk for your tea, coffee, cereal and porridge needs (Please note: We do not recommend almond milk for tea due to the texture, but it does make a great rice pudding which is very useful for suhur!). You can even switch to black tea with fresh lemon, sugar (keep it minimal!) or honey
- Ice cream: Try deliciously tangy frozen sorbets to add to fruits for dessert instead of eating ice-cream – and cut calories at the same time!
- Cheese and butter: If you’re a fan of butter or cheese on your toast for suhur, use veggie spreads, Marmite or extra virgin olive oil instead. Likewise, hummus is another dip for bread along with Za’atar, whilst butter on vegetables can easily be switched for extra virgin olive oil
There are plenty of ways to create tasty drinks and meals without the need for dairy products. Remember herbs and spices in your cooking/preparation and be inventive – rose water and honey make great seasonings/toppings.
This is your chance to switch things up a bit and try new flavours/recipes!
10. Don’t splash out!
Water is such a precious gift from Allah (SWT). It’s the source of all life and a commodity that we must not waste.
As Prophet Muhammad (SAW) taught:
Do not waste even if performing ablution on the bank of a fast flowing large river. (Tirmidhi)
In our day-to-day life with washing, cleaning and cooking, there are all kinds of opportunities where if we’re not careful we may waste water. However, during Ramadan in particular when we’re performing extra prayers, it’s critical to make sure that we’re not using excess water for wudhu and ghusl.
Here’s how to be more mindful about the water we use:
- Switch to tap: When it comes to drinking water, please use tap water and avoid bottles – if needs be, use a filter and store water in the fridge. Don’t leave the tap running when doing other tasks (such as brushing your teeth) and only take what you need
- Follow the Sunnah: Don’t waste water when making wudhu and ghusl. For wudhu especially, make sure the tap is not left running and cup the water in your hands
- Simply use less: Prioritise showers over baths and ensure that you don’t leave the shower running when you don’t need to
- Be a conscious cook: Don’t waste boiled water. For example, if you’ve boiled vegetables, keep the water for a stock or re-use it for boiling other items such as potatoes.
With the global water crisis, our impact on the planet is costing livelihoods, homes and even lives.
The increasing impact of climate-induced drought, along with flooding which displaces communities, means that growing numbers of people are in need of safe sources of food and water.
A staggering 785 million people go thirsty each and every day. These people sadly don’t have access to a safe clean source of water.
So please, be mindful of the water you’re using this Ramadan.
11. Welcome wildlife
SubhanAllah Allah’s Creation is so beautiful and what better way to give thanks for this than by ensuring that your local park or garden is wildlife-friendly?
There are lots of ways to welcome wildlife and help protect the plants and animals in your local area:
- Feed hungry mouths: If you’ve got a garden, install a bird feeder and also leave a few peanuts for local squirrels. Alternatively, why not visit your local park and feed the ducks? No bread please! It’s bad for the water and their tummies. Try peas and sweetcorn instead. Why not also make friends with the local squirrels and share some peanuts? It’s a great family activity that children will love!
- Plant trees: Add some oxygen-producing trees or bushes to your garden to help restore the ecological balance. Why not also set up your own neighbourhood association/”friends of a park” initiative and plant your own in your local area?
- Add a water feature: By adding a pond or water feature in your garden, you can keep fish and frogs and also attract beautiful dragonflies. If you don’t have much space, or you don’t have a garden, you can use something as simple as a bowl on a balcony or window ledge. Find out more here
Let’s plant more and pollute less this Ramadan!
Ramadan is such a beautiful month and a critical time for self-reflection and giving.
We owe the Earth our love and care as a matter of urgency, as highlighted by this beautiful hadith:
If the Hour (the Day of Resurrection) is about to be established and one of you were holding a palm shoot, let him… plant it. (Ahmad)
So give back to the environment and help preserve Allah’s wonderful Creation.
By following these top 11 tips, you really can make a difference.
Wishing you all a wonderful Ramadan from the Islamic Relief team.
If you would like to be involved in campaigning against climate change with Islamic Relief, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.