First observed in 1970, Earth Day is now a global annual event celebrated by over 1 billion people in 192 nations! This year’s theme is ‘Protect Our Species’ which focuses on tackling the issue of the quickly decreasing plant and animal populations. Our unsustainable habits are causing rapid deforestation, habitat loss and ultimately, climate change.
To counter this, environmentalists have spawned the zero waste movement. This movement has generated much buzz in recent years with a myriad of zero waste shops, blogs and personalities popping up all over the world. Yes, the zero waste lifestyle may seem daunting at first.
Don’t worry, here are eight Muslim-friendly ways to live a zero waste lifestyle using things you should already have at home:
Reduce food wastage
In the hadith, Miqdam bin Madikarib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one-third of food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.’”
This shows that the Prophet PBUH was mindful when he consumes food. The Prophet PBUH only consume an amount of food that was enough to make him feel satisfied and not too full. The Prophet PBUH also stressed the fact that no morsel of food, even those on your fingers, should be thrown away. Therefore, Muslims should avoid any food wastage and cook or consume what they require.
Nowadays, approximately one-third of all food produced in the world is thrown away. That’s almost 1.3 billion tons each year! If you think food wastage doesn’t affect you, think again. The massive amount of resources put into food production, such as water and electricity, are wasted in the process. Also, rotting food in landfills produces methane gas, the second most common greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Ready to make a change? Here are three simple ways to reduce your food wastage:
1. Shop Smart
The easiest way to reduce food waste is to not buy excess food in the first place! However, this is easier said than done. With so many halal delicious snacks in the supermarket aisles, you will definitely be tempted to add unnecessary items to your cart that you didn’t intend to buy.
Try to make a list of items you need and commit to the list. Also, try not to be tempted by the bulk promotions going on in the store, such as the ‘buy-one-get-one’ discounts. Remember, only buy what you need!
#HZtip: Don’t forget to bring a reusable bag for your groceries to reduce plastic consumption. To up your zero-waste game, you can also buy fresh produce without plastic packaging. Fruits like apples and bananas already have natural ‘packaging’!
2. Save Leftovers
When there’s leftover food from cooking or takeaways at home, most Muslims would store them in the fridge and would most probably forget about them. To mitigate this, try and store your food in clear containers. When you can actually see your food, you’ll be more likely to consume them.
When eating outside, bring along a container to store food that you can’t finish. If you think your containers are too bulky to bring around, opt for a collapsible container instead. Saving leftovers doesn’t just reduce your food wastage, but it also saves you time and money as your next meal is already in the fridge.
#HZtip: Many food establishments worldwide now offer ‘bring-your-own-container’ discounts. That’s a win-win for you and the environment!
3. Store Food Correctly
More often than not, food turns bad due to improper storage. If fruits and veggies are stored incorrectly, the produce can prematurely ripen and lessen its shelf life. For example, you should store ethylene-producing produce, such as bananas and avocados, away from other produce. Ethylene is a compound that causes food to ripen faster. Food storage containers should also be airtight to prevent it from going bad quickly.
#HZtip: Replace plastic ziplock bags and plastic wraps with eco-friendly options, such as silicone ziplock bags and beeswax wraps.
Give clothes a new lease in life
In the hadith, Hisham said: “I asked ‘A’isha, ‘What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do in his house?’ She replied, ‘He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.” This shows us that Prophet Muhammad PBUH led a simple life. Instead of easily buying new clothes and shoes, the Prophet PBUH chose to repair his garments himself and reuse them.
Fashion trends change faster than the seasons nowadays. In the words of Tyra Banks: “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out”. With this mantra in mind, fast fashion brands are constantly pushing out new runway-inspired looks at lightning-fast speeds and low costs. This affects the environment negatively as textile factories cut corners, which leads to water pollution, the usage of toxic chemicals and escalating levels of textile waste.
Round up your Muslim fashionista friends and try out these three fun ways to give your clothes a new lease of life:
4. Mend your clothes
Follow in the footsteps of the Prophet PBUH and mend your own clothes. If you don’t know how to sew, seek guidance from your parents or sign up for classes at your nearest community centres. You can also easily look for tutorials online. While mending your clothes, you can also get creative and personalise your clothes with embroidery or patches. Not only are you able to pick up an essential life skill, but you also save money in the process!
#HZtip: If your clothes are beyond repair, don’t throw them just yet! Bring them to major fashion retailers, such as UNIQLO and H&M, and drop them off in the textile recycling bins.
5. Thrift or rent your clothes
Ever bought an outfit from mainstream fashion retailers and noticed other people wearing the same outfit? How embarrassing! Go thrift shopping and hunt for one-of-a-kind outfits instead. The process of thrift shopping will definitely bring you joy. With hidden gems waiting for you on the shelves of a thrift store, it’s like going on a treasure hunt!
If the thrift shopping scene isn’t as developed in your country, you can choose to rent your clothes instead. If you’re going to a special event, you can rent designer dresses at a fraction of the price. For those of you who want to experiment with different styles, there are online clothing stores which offer monthly clothing rental subscription services. Every month, the company will send you a box of clothes and you return the previous month’s set of clothes. Cheers to unlimited clothes!
6. Coordinate new outfits
Although our closets are filled to the brim, we’ve all had the ‘I got nothing to wear in my closet’ moment. Next time the moment arrives, round up your best pals before heading out to buy new clothes. With fresh pairs of eyes, your friends can help you coordinate new outfits. You can learn to style one blouse a dozen different ways! Also, if there are pieces that you don’t fancy but one of your friends does, you can pass it on to them.
Learn to live with less
There are multiple times in the Qu’ran that mentions that Allah swt dislikes extravagance:
- “…eat of its fruit when it bears fruit, and pay the due of it on the day of its reaping, and do not act extravagantly; surely He does not love the extravagant.” (Qu’ran 6:141)
- “…and do not squander wastefully, surely the squanderers are the followers of the shaitans and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Qu’ran 17:26-27)
- “…the extravagant are the inmates of the fire.” (Qu’ran 40:43)
Being extravagant here can apply to three situations; spending more than your means, buying things that you don’t need and unnecessary wastage of resources, which includes wasting water when performing your ablution.
Hence, we’re encouraged to live with less. Here are three ways you can adopt a zero-waste lifestyle while using less:
7. Condense your beauty routine
Depending on the individual, assess your own beauty routine. Personally, since I have super oily skin, I can’t pile on ten products that follow the viral Korean 10-step beauty routine. My face will look like an oil field by the sixth step! I have condensed my skincare routine to just four products and my skin has never felt better!
Reducing skincare, makeup and haircare products can decrease plastic consumption as most of these beauty products are clad with plastic packaging. If you’re ready for the next step, you can also make a switch to bar soaps and shampoos. With these solid options, there is literally no plastic in your products.
#HZtip: You can invest in a set of reusable cotton pads and cut out the disposable version from your beauty routine. You will save tons of money in the long-run and reduce the impact on the environment.
8. Use what you already have
With the advent of zero waste shops, don’t feel like you have to rush out to buy zero waste products such as bamboo utensils, mason jars or metal straws. Just use the metal spoons and containers that you already have in your house. Reusable straws have been all the rage nowadays. If you think you won’t use it often, don’t purchase one. You can easily request for your drinks to be served without straws. You can do your part for the environment by simply saying three words: “No straw please”. Easy peasy!
Both scientists and environmentalists have warned us that if we don’t change our ways by 2020 (that’s next year!), the Earth may not have a chance to heal. This Earth Day, let’s make a promise to ourselves to take better care of our planet, just like how our beloved Prophet PBUH did.