Ramadhan and Food Waste | How to Practice a Zero Waste Ramadhan

Ramadhan Kareem Peaches!

Pic from Islam_Decor.ke

Ramadhan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar where Muslims around the world observe fasting. Some commenced fasting yesterday, 13th April while others commenced fasting today, 14th April including myself, upon the sighting of the crescent moon in our country, Kenya. Ramadhan brings forth abundant blessings and divine rewards to those who make the best out of it.

I love the month of Ramadhan because of many reasons. One of it being that it’s like an auto reset button for me. Ramadhan strengthens my faith and steadfastness in my prayers. More often though, we mistake fasting for hunger. When in real sense, fasting is about living mindfully, protecting us from evil deeds through supplication of prayers, reading the holy Quran and helping the needy as opposed to spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing a buffet of exotic cuisines.

Food waste is rampant in most of our homes during Ramadhan which becomes a huge challenge. Sometimes we get carried away because we want to feed our bellies to compensate for the ‘hunger’ we experienced fasting all day. Other times, it’s to show off wealth with the amount of food we can purchase or prepare on our dinner tables. Overpreparation of food in restaurants, hotels and food service industry, lack of appropriate planning, purchase and preparation of excess food and throwing leftovers are some of the forms of food waste. Ramadhan is a special month indeed to prepare special meals for ourselves and our loved ones. However, we can do so without wasting food.

Food waste not only leads to poverty but also has serious environmental and human health implications. The whole process of food production and preparation uses energy, fuel and water. Each produces greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. By wasting food, we are wasting resources and polluting the environment in the case of improper waste disposal. Causing soil, water and air pollution once contaminated with hazardous chemicals and greenhouse gases. A proportion of wasted food ends up in landfills where some rots and smells, releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas among other toxic gases.

In fact, food waste is highly prohibited in Islam, termed as Israf, which is considered extravagance, wasteful expenditure. Israf is defined as waste due to wanton consumption. In other words, consuming more than real needs that is based in desires.

As prohibited in the holy Qur’an in these two verses;

“and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.” (Surah al-Ar’af 7:31).

“The extravagant are the inmates of the fire. Thus does Allah cause him to err who is extravagant, and a doubter.” (Surah Ghafir, 40:33-34).

But here’s the thing. So is miserliness prohibited. The message in this is to practice Ramadhan in moderation.

13 Ways to Practice a Zero Waste Ramadhan

Two guests joined zero waste Ramadhan conversation on my blog today. Sonia Basant and Nasym Khan have contributed to talk about food waste prevention being a key priority in building a circular economy and a sustainable society especially during the month of Ramadhan.

The Act of Giving – By Nasym Khan

  1. Plan your meal, you don’t have to make so many dishes at once. I know it can be exciting but one sweet snack, one savory snack and a main dish is more than enough. Serve a plate that which you can finish.
  2. Let’s please normalize eating leftovers during Ramadhan the following day when food becomes excess. In case you do not want to eat the leftovers, help the needy because you get abundant blessings during the month of Ramadhan when you feed the poor.
  3. Send a plate to your neighbor just like old times in the spirit of Ramadhan. The prophet said, ‘‘Whoever feeds a person breaking his fast will earn the same reward as him, without anything being lessened from the reward of the fasting person.’’

Please check out Kibra Food Drive for your charitable contribution this Ramadhan. More details here.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – By Sonia Basant

Zero Waste Packaging

  1. Use reusable bags when shopping and reuse any mesh bags or paper bags you already have. If your local store accepts glass jars, carry your glass jars particularly for purchasing spices, each labeled, to reduce plastic packaging.
  1. Carry dates in a reusable container and water in a reusable water bottle or thermos for days or evenings when you know there is a high chance iftar will still find you on the road or at work.
  1. Reduce your takeaways for those who can afford it, alternatively, reuse your takeaway packaging as much as possible in the home before sending it to be recycled.
  1. Always carry reusable containers or dishes when sending food to relatives, friends and neighbors or if they offer to send to you. This will reduce disposable containers. If you must use a single use item for example a plastic fork, try to reduce the waste by not using a second plastic fork.
  1. Instead of spending a lot of time and effort creating gift parcels for Eid, consider gift certificates of much loved food items. This will reduce in plastic wrapping and the amount of fuel used for transport.

Recycling Food Waste

We had a discussion with Sonia Basant at Trashion Kenya on the importance of recycling food waste which is among our major 3Rs; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. You can also find the conversation here

  1. There is nothing wrong with having leftovers. Get creative with them and create the next iftar meal to reduce food wastage. Utilize your meat to limit wastage. For example, chicken bones can be used to make an excellent broth. Veggies too! Some find it easier to store their vegetable scraps in their freezer until they can make a large pot of vegetable broth. A fun way to use fruit or vegetables, especially for kids, is to blend them to make various smoothies or fruit blends.
  1. If your space allows, consider having compost for vegetables and fruit scraps that cannot be repurposed into something else. Segregate your waste where many plastics and metals can be reused or repurposed. Fruit and vegetable peels can be composted.
  1. Coffee grounds from the filter can be added straight to the soil if you have any potted plants. Consider purchasing reusable coffee filters if you drink a lot of coffee.
  1. Don’t waste water. Do not leave the tap on running if you are not using the water at that moment. Ideally, keep a bowl below the fruits or vegetables you are washing, this water can be reused on potted plants. Alternatively, reuse the water used to clean your fruits with a non-toxic solution to soak something.
  1. Save the new dress or outfit for Eid day, spend the money on a quality outfit that you will be able to reuse for many years to come. Also use this time of reflection during Ramadan to go through your closet and to donate clothes to those who may not be able to afford nice new clothes. To them your clothes that are still in good condition are new.

One of the major impacts of Coronavirus pandemic currently is hunger. A huge percentage of people from different social classes have lost their jobs. In a nutshell, food waste does not make sense especially during this time where many Muslims still suffer from hunger, not affording nutritious meals after a hard day of fasting, whilst at the same time enormous amounts of food and resources are being wasted, which are also becoming increasingly scarce. It not only addresses food poverty but also saves your pockets and helps reduce greenhouse gases and save our resources.

Let’s please practice a zero waste Ramadhan. Hashtag #Zerowasteramadhan and tag us @Trashionkenya

May you all have a blessed Ramadhan!

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