The use of plastics is only one potential environmental impact of an iftar. There are other ways that you can also make the iftar environmentally friendly
Once again you will need to do an audit of your activity. This time you need to think of all the ways in which the meal has an environmental impact. Having done this, you can think of solutions that will either eliminate or reduce the impact
You might find that some of the suggestions in the below table can be feasible in your location or can be modified to suit local conditions.
Your aim should be to:
Remind people of the Islamic Environmental ethic and the importance of making sure our activities around worship fit in with our obligation to care for Allah’s creation and to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
|Environmental Issue||Possible solution|
|Transport – The transportation of materials has a significant impact on the environment as nearly all forms of transport at this time use fossil fuels in some form or another. This impacts climate change.||Think of ways to reduce or cut out unnecessary transport of goods. Try to use the least unsustainable form of transport. Choose options that need the least transport and try source locally. This also supports local more sustainable businesses.|
|Meat – the production of meat has several environmental impacts including greenhouse gas production by livestock and reduced biodiversity. Also think of the wellbeing of the animals.||Use meat sparingly in your menu or try a vegetarian iftar. Use the most environmentally responsible sustainable sources of meat. Transporting livestock long distances uses fossil fuels but is also stressful for the animals – so try find the most local sources. Insure local produces use ethical and sustainable production methods. A growing number of Muslims are cutting down the meat they consume or even giving it up all together.|
|Other food ingredients – Transporting ingredients long distances uses more fossil fuel. Plants that are grown using insecticides or chemical fertilizers have a negative impact on the environment.||As with meat, source ingredients from local produces who use ethical and sustainable production methods. Think of making the menu more appropriate to your location. For example, there is at least one mosque in the UK that breaks the fast during Ramadan with soup produced from locally grown vegetables.|
|Waste: Food preparation can produce a lot of waste. It can also use finite recourses such as water.||Try to reduce the amount you discard in food preparation. Try to use some discarded foods for soups etc. Be frugal with water? when washing vegetables etc. or washing down surfaces. Ensure all food not used is composted.|
|Waste: Left over food People are usually aware of the importance of not throwing away left over food and will take it to be used by others. However, scraps are often thrown away with the general refuse.||Look into using scraps for other things (chicken bones for soup etc). The remaining waste should be composted and utilised to grow more produce.|
|Fuel for cooking:The cooking of food will nearly always involve the use of unsuitable energy.||If it is not possible to cook food using renewable energy, then try to ensure you cook in as energy-efficient way as possible.|
|Fuel for the dining area: You will possibly need to heat or cool the room the iftar will take place in. Generally, this will involve the use of fossil fuel-based energy.||Try to find low energy solutions for heating and cooling the room. Switch your mosque/ community centre to a green energy supplier,
Get them to install their own solar or renewable energy generation.
If the weather is warm enough, eat outside.
|Lighting: Lighting can be a significant source of energy use.||Firstly, check if you really need the lights on. If you do use them make sure that the most energy efficient lights are used and only enough for the needs of the event.|
|Water usage, washing: Water is a finite resource that is under pressure everywhere. Water wastage has a detrimental effect on our environment.||Whether it is for washing food or people water usage should always be kept to a minimum. Employ water-saving measures such as spray Wudu facilities and using rain water harvesting.|
|Water usage, drinking: As with washing, using excess water for drinking can have negative environmental impact.||If the mains water is suitable for dinking, then use this instead of bottled water (as with plastic free iftar). If drinking water needs to be brought use larger containers and decant into jugs etc. avoiding the overuse of small disposable bottles.|
|Travel: As well as the transport of goods and food it would be good at looking at how guests get to the meal.||Make sure that guests use the least fuel to come to the iftar. This could encourage people who are nearby to walk or com by bicycle. Encourage car-pooling and perhaps see if a minibus service can’t be initiated.|
Recycled/Recycling plastics: Whilst much is made about recycling, the reality is that plastics do not generally recycle well. Currently 91% of plastic produced is not recycled (National Geographic). For this reason recycling plastic or using recycled plastics are not especially useful ways of combating plastic waste. The recycling of plastics uses more fossil fuel (impacting climate change) and can be seen as shifting the problem elsewhere much like “brushing it under the carpet”. So, for the purposes of this project recycled and recycling plastic will not be included as an option.
Where you can’t eliminate plastics in your iftar, try to reduce it as much as you can. This will give you something to talk about to guests and perhaps can be a starting point of a debate on how reliant we have become on plastics and to discuss ways of finding alternatives. Where plastics cannot be eliminated then try to use plastics that can be reused or recycled successfully.