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Life in lockdown: 5 ways to help the planet and each other

Lockdown… Our new daily reality for the time being means that we’re spending the vast majority of our time at home.

The world outside is out of bounds bar the necessities and we’re adjusting to new routines.

Thankfully, the panic-induced stockpiling which resulted in higher levels of food waste seems to have disappeared. However, as we enter into Ramadan and start reflecting on a spiritual level, it’s also a good time to reflect on our habits and see what we’re doing to help the planet and each other.

In the past few weeks, Britons alone hoarded £1 billion of food in their homes, with many people continuing to panic buy for prolonged periods. This sadly left many key workers and vulnerable individuals without essentials.

Of course, this is not the Message of Islam. Allah (SWT) explicitly tells us to not waste from his Creation:

…eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters” (7:31)

Islam, of course, teaches us to love for your neighbour what you love for yourself and there is no better time to put this into practice than during the current crisis. Our communities need us and the planet needs us.Wastage must stop! We must be mindful of the impact of our actions. And while we think about breaking our fasts during Ramadan, we must also plan carefully to ensure that we do not waste food when we break our fast.

So we’ve put together a quick and simple guide to help you minimise waste at home during these crucial months of lockdown and fasting. Read on for our top five tips on how to create a #ZeroWaste home during this period.

1. Keep a waste-free kitchen

Food doesn’t just cost money, it also costs the environment. Remember: the more waste, the more we harm the planet.

So, if you’re unsure of how to make the best use of food items in the kitchen during Ramadan and lockdown, try these tips:

  • Savour the flavour of stocks: Save your vegetable peel and make a healthy stock to use as a base for soups, risotto or to add extra flavour to any dish!
  • Create delicious treats: Save fruit peel and make candied fruit peel to create delicious home-made sweet treats
  • Make use of your freezer: Don’t throw away leftover food, store it in the fridge/freezer and make another meal out of it – or even better, give it to neighbours or charity!
  • Get out the slow cooker: Use up odd bits and ends by making a stew in the oven or a slow cooker or making a meaty stock for pies, rice dishes and sauces

Don’t forget that herbs and spices can really help make a delicious iftar if you’re running short of inspiration!

2. Detox your bathroom

With us spending more time at home and needing ways to relax after a hard day’s work, I for one have found myself enjoying a little pamper time at home. Even in Ramadan, it’s still important to look after ourselves. After all, our bodies are a gift from Allah (SWT)!

Whether you’re fond of a fragrant face mask, rich body butter or warm bubbly bath, a little self-care is a necessity!

However, the bad news is that nowadays everything is packaged in plastic. Not only are these chemicals in these products often harmful to the environment, but this toxic unrecyclable plastic too!

But, there’s a way around this:

  • Make your own: Protect the environment and get creative by making your natural own toiletries with all-natural ingredients such as salt, olive oil, honey and essential oils – they also make great gifts!
  • Don’t buy plastic: Buy items such as soap bars which don’t come with excessive packaging
  • Re-use containers: If you have any leftover bottles or tubs, use them for storing your home-made toiletries, fragrances or bits and bobs to save throwing them out
  • Buy reusables: They’re an initial investment but more and more people are investing in reusable items such as cloth sanitary towels, nappies and cotton pads which are healthier for us and the environment

3. Maintain a paperless office – at home or in the workplace

Without a doubt, more and more of our life is being managed through the use of computers, the internet and social networking.

The result for offices, home-working and businesses?

Well for one, paper-based notetaking, storage and filing are not quite as popular as in times gone by.

With cloud storage, notepad applications and often most of our work now stored on your computer’s hard drive, we’re now saving on physical space. And, often paper too!

However, we still need to make a conscious effort to cut down our usage of paper and card waste to help protect the planet.

Here’s how:

  • Think before you print: Do you really need to print that document? If not, then don’t! Make the most of your computer and less of the printer
  • Switch to online options: Many companies now offer options to opt-out of receiving snail mail. By checking your bank statement or utility bills online, you’ll be saving critical paper
  • Reuse scraps: If you’ve got leftover paper, re-use scraps for brainstorming or taking notes. Why not give it to your children for arts and crafts and if you’ve got cats, to make them a new box to sit in!

4. Create a craft corner

We’ve seen how to you refuse your food waste but what about all those bottles and cans from the kitchen? Well, they can be re-used too!

This especially comes in handy as many of us in lockdown are already wondering how to keep the little ones entertained.

Yes, why not combine zero wastage and zero boredom? Here’s where your artistic abilities come in!

You could make all kinds of things:

  • Light up your home: Turn old cans into lanterns with your own specially-made patterns
  • Bring bowling home: Whilst a trip to the bowling alley may be out of the question, why not make your own skittles using empty bottles? Add some paint and use an orange for the ball and voilà! Endless fun – why not make it a Zoom party?
  • Get creative with card: Save kitchen and toilet roll card and make all kinds of wonderful items with the children such as desk organisers, flower decorations and rockets

5. Open up your garden

So that’s the inside of the house covered but…there’s still more!

Yes, if you’ve got a garden then you can utilise your green space to help Allah’s creation go even further.

It’s as simple as this:

  • Make your own compost: Grab together any old food items and recycle them back into the earth
  • Get green-fingered: Grow your own herbs to save on the plastic packing from the shops. Plus you can grow all kinds of foods using leftover scraps. Why not share them with your neighbours too?
  • Welcome wildlife: Feed your friendly local birds with bird-friendly leftovers. Why not also make a bird feeder with left-over toilet paper card to encourage your little ones to get involved?

It’s our responsibility to Allah (SWT) to protect his planet and help others.

By drastically cutting down our unnecessary waste we can make the most of His blessed Creation and help neighbours and local wildlife alike. So give it a go!

We can’t wait to see how you get on! Tweet us with your tips, photos and experiences at @IslamicReliefUK, using the hashtag #ZeroWaste!

Ramadan Mubarak from Islamic Relief!

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