11 Ways to Have a More Zero-Waste Ramadan
Mar 11, 2022
Image source: Muslimmummies.com
By Nayyer Taban
Every time Ramadan and Eid time comes closer, I start getting somewhat of a panic attack from all the plastic and waste we create in the name of celebration. As a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country, I totally understand the intention and struggle of wanting to decorate, but being an environment-friendly person, I can't get my head around creating this much waste.
There are ways to make our Ramadan more green while still making it festive. I’d like to share my ideas to decorate and celebrate with zero waste.
1. Thrifting! You can find lights that are pre-used, come with zero packaging, will cost you way less, and they work just as fine. Check Facebook Marketplace or even neighborhood groups on social media that give stuff away or trade items (search for terms like “trash to treasure” or “buy nothing”)
2. No more plastic water bottles. This isn’t decor-related, but let's end the single-use plastic water bottles during iftar or tarawih at the masjid. Teach your congregation to bring a water bottle with them.
3. No online shopping. Try to go with absolutely nothing online for your decorations, since it uses so much fuel to get one little pack of lights or a piece of decoration from one place to another and comes with so much extra packaging too. DIY it or stay local. With the current wartime situation in Ukraine, gas prices are skyrocketing and prices will only go up shipping things. Especially say no to online stuff from China for ethical reasons.
Here are some examples of things you can make at home instead:
1. DIY mosque: Get big brown cardboard boxes from any bulk/wholesale store and use it to make a DIY mosque. Decorate with the lights you bought from the thrift store.
Decorating a sadaqa jar made out of a mason jar. Image source: Muslimmummies.com
2. Tasbeehs and prayer mats: You can make tasbeeh from thrift store necklaces and beads, prayer mats from paper and decorated with colors and create a prayer timings chart with cardboard. Many of us have fashioned a sadaqa (charitable giving) jar from an old mason jar. There are numerous templates and printable versions to help you with your design.
3. Ramadan calendar: Use 30 paper bags to make your calendar. Mark them with the numbers 1-30, decorate with kids if you like, and hang from a hanger. Or make a felt calendar. 30 pockets and done. What goes in the calendar? Experiences instead of cheap dollar store plastic toys. Along with 'today's act of kindness' and 'today's good deed,' here's my list of stuff that goes in the calendar. When Ramadan is done, you can deconstruct and recycle the paper bags of the calendar or reuse them for something else.
4. Gifts to close friends and family: It's either money, something homemade, a promised experience to share together, something you do for your loved one, or a gift card to experience. No material things.
5. Gifts to teachers and neighbors: Plants. Who doesn't love greenery! And how about a home-baked cake, too? (Not covered in the cling foil that stays in the landfill forever! That makes me sad!)
Ramadan calendar made out of felt. Image source: author
6. Goody bags for class fellows: I say no to the classic plastic goody bags filled with candy and other stuff. Last year I made seed bombs (soaked paper in water, blend, squeeze, add seeds, shape!) It's easy and all natural. Kids loved it! And, we made a paper bag mosque with kids, and the kids took their seed bomb in their self-decorated paper mosque. Cool, eh?
Once I gave away books without any wrapping - just handed each child their book! Another time I gave steel straws along with a cleaning brush tied with a jute string. You can add a “Ramadan Mubarak paper tag” when tying if you like, which later can be recycled. Put all the straws in a mason jar and give them away. Yes, without any wrapping paper or individual plastic baggies. Decorate the mason jar if you like.
7. Gifts for your librarian: I like to arrange a Ramadan story time in the local library if they are amenable to it. We donate Islamic books to the library, and I will give a scarf and a mason jar filled with dates to the librarian. All the kids get a henna tattoo from me.
8. Chocolates and candies for kids to take for Eid prayer or during Ramadan prayers: (Editorial note: If the COVID numbers are high where you live, maybe forgo the candy giving in Ramadan or Eid prayers.) Buy non-wrapper candies from your local grocery store in bulk and put in a mason jar along with a spoon. Every child gets one and leaves no mess behind them; neither in the mosque nor on the planet.
What hurts me the most is to see the wrapping paper and individually wrapped goody bags, or gifts all wrapped in cellophane just to be ripped away to stay on the planet forever. We are made to be stewards of this earth. With great power comes great responsibility – responsibility to leave less of a carbon print and responsibility to teach our kids that our celebrations don’t mean that we make a mess on the planet that will always stay. Kids do understand! And, I say this with experience.
This post, published with permission, is an edited version of an original post written by Nayyer Taban for the private Facebook group, "Ramadan & Eid Crafts Activities."
What are your ideas for a zero-waste Ramadan? Share below in the comments!
Share this article
Share this article
Subscribe to be the first to know about new product releases, styling ideas and more.
What products are you interested in?
What we stand for
To create a world where every woman feels comfortable and confident.
© 2020 Haute Hijab. All rights reserved.