I have been implementing little mindful and sustainable changes in my daily life in my home in London since last year & I shared my eight tips for a sustainable lifestyle with you earlier this year. I think carrying out these changes during Ramadan will make this holy month even more special and I have a few suggestions to help you have a more sustainable Ramadan!
Before we start let me give you an overview of some Ramadan terminology just in case!
Ramadan is the holy month of fast, where practicing Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and abstain from eating, drinking and saying or doing anything negative during those hours.
Iftar is the first meal Muslims have after they break their fast, which just translates to breakfast. Sometimes this word is changed based on other languages and the word Ftoor or iftari are used. They all mean the same thing.
Suhoor is the last, late meal Muslims have before they start their fast, which just translates to that time of night. Sometimes this word is changed based on other languages and the word sehari, but it means the same thing.
Quran is the holy book and scared text for Muslims.
Eid is the celebration that happens right after Ramadan, where people and their families gather to have breakfast and sweets. Sometimes there is a gift exchange.
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Five tips to have a sustainable Ramadan
Food is a huge part of the month! Although, it’s the month of fast, Muslims break their fasts and feast during the night depending how many hours they have at night since it changes based on the geographical location. If we make changes to our food that will be a really big part of the activities of Ramadan! If you ensure that you are eating seasonal produce, which means feasting on the fruit and vegetables that naturally grows in that season. Chances are this seasonal produce is also organic, which will massively help the farming industry and your taste buds because organic, fresh produce tastes the best!!
Read: Seasonal Produce Guide
I personally use Able and Cole year round and I get the small veggie box from them every Monday and I absolutely love it. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s seasonal and organic. I love the random little treats they add to my box at times like they gave me a 2019 calendar in my December shop that’s hanging in my kitchen and it has more info on their seasonal produce and some stories from the farms they work with. For Easter they also added a chocolate bunny that I ate while unpacking my groceries heheh. I am aware of this privilege and sometimes you don’t have a service like this, but try to do your best!
Vegan and vegetarian meals
Not every day chicken okay? I am not vegetarian, but we don’t need to eat meat every day for Iftar and for suhoor. Having two meat-free meals a week makes such a huge difference. It’s a controversial topic, but honestly living a balanced food diet with weekly vegetarian options will help everyone.
It’s not difficult to do that if you have some ready vegan or even veggie recipes that you can try. You can make some very delicious meals and you won’t even notice it’s meat-free! The vegan cook books that I use are: Thug Kitchen and Ms.Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town and I like most of the recipes I tried.
Also, a lot of the recipes from the Levant are actually vegan, so you can try some delicious Arabic recipes that don’t compromise any ingredients and for recipes from the Levant I use: Syria: Recipes from Home and Palestine on a Plate. They are not especially vegetarians, but they have good options in it.
Waste management in Ramadan
I know with the hunger during the day, we sometimes tend to over cook and make too many things that we won’t realistically eat. The food waste is really heartbreaking especially with so many people in the world struggling to eat! Waste can be in the form of buying too many ingredients that expire quickly or cooking too much food that doesn’t get eaten. It’s our duty to really ensure minimal waste during this month (and every month) because the month of Ramadan teaches us to be even more mindful and thoughtful in our lifestyle.
Tips to avoid waste in Ramadan:
Plan your meals in advance so when you are doing your groceries you aren’t over buying things you won’t need. | Meal Planner Tool
Buy long lasting ingredients or something that doesn’t expire quickly.
Freeze leftover foods or unneeded fresh ingredients so they last longer and can be used at a later date. | Creative Ways to Use Leftovers
Give away foods to your neighbours and loved ones! That’s one of my favourite Ramadan food activity! The exchange of food!
Reuse the packaging for other food storage or even creative projects. | Smart Ways to Repurpose Food Packaging
Plastic free Ramadan
This month is about challenging ourselves to be better, to endure new things and to improve our habits. So going plastic free or minimising the use of plastic will be very fitting. It will be a very good step to show more compassion to the universe we live in. It’s more than just replacing straws with paper or wood.
Tips for plastic- free Ramadan:
I know there are a lot of socials and buying plastic plates and cutlery might be the easy option, but using real plates is much better on the long run (if you must get biodegradable ones instead).
If you are going to the mosque for Iftar or to someone else’s house, pack your own cutlery set. I have one with its own cute poach and I take it with me everywhere!!
You will probably be very thirsty by the time of Iftar, so have your eco-friendly refillable water bottle on you at all times. No need of wasting bottles. If you don’t love the taste of tap water you can add mint, cucumber, lemon slices, orange slice or even cinnamon sticks (not all at once though!) | Creative & Tasty Ways to Make “Boring” Water Taste Like Heaven
Get the bees wax or the vegan wax food wraps to cover all the leftovers instead of plastic covers.
Use glass/wood/metal Tupperware instead of new plastic ones unless you already have them then always reuse what you have as much as possible.
Use the zero-free silicon bags to freeze some leftovers as well! I just saw them on Instagram on a zero waste account and I think I need them in my life!
Keep a tote bag handy in your handbag just in case you are getting Iftar or suhoor groceries!
Sustainable Eid gifts
When I was a kid, Eid gifts were usually sweets and money, but gifts are becoming more and more part of the Eid culture especially for Muslims in the West who treat this joyous occasion as an alternative for Christmas and honestly fair enough! Gifts are always encouraged in Islam and prophet Mohammed used to gift his neighbours too. If you do want to partake, you can make your gifts yourself! Gifts are a sign of love an affection and it doesn’t need to be materialistic and expensive. Handmade with love could mean so much more to the receiver. If for some reason you can’t, maybe support a local independent business! You usually find these indi-businesses in craft markets or online in Etsy, where you can choose the shipping city!