Zero Waste; A Muslimah’s Perspective

Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem

Have you ever wondered what happens to the polystyrene foam takeaway pack when you put it in the bin? Or the ripped black nylon bag you used to discard that stale bread? I have come across many ideas and ideals. Some trendy and cool, however, Zero Waste has got my attention.

I may have just stumbled upon the term ‘zero waste’ in 2017, but I’d indulged in many kinds of eco habits, choices, programmes and so on for a number of years before that. I, however, struggled to keep up the efforts. This time, I want to do this, for Him, Al-Khaliq (The Creator).

So… What is ‘Zero Waste’ about?

Zero Waste is a lifestyle or way of living that aims to avoid producing as much waste as possible. I personally prefer to use the term ‘low waste‘ as I feel it is a truer phrase. I recognise that some waste is unavoidable; but, it seems much of the waste we produce is unnecessary and as a result of our mindless choices, societal norms, excesses and extravagances.

In Lagos, Nigeria for instance, an average 9,000 metric tonnes of waste is produced on a daily basis, 30% of which can not be reused or recycled. That is 2,700MT waste that will remain on the earth for hundreds of years. Do we, Lagosians, really have to deposit this much potentially hazardous substance into the ecosystem daily? What about the generations to come?

In Surah Al-An’am, 6:141, Allah (S) says

‘وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ’. But do not be wasteful: God does not like wasteful people.’…

What I find is that our new societal norms have left us blinded to the effects of the waste we produce – its quantities, ill disposal methods and bad management. At this rate, we are doing damage to the environment, killing our lands and poisoning our seas. 

Allaah (S) in many verses and chapters of the Qur’aan forbids harming oneself and others, even animals have the right to a clean death (through proper slaughtering). Many of the “convenient” choices we make, like the plastic nylons (non-reusable, non-compostable material) we cook our “mọ́ínmọ́ín” in cause direct harm to our health, unlike cooking with leaves (compostable and serves as food for animals) which not only has no harmful effects but also provide us with little nutritional benefits too.

We need to start asking ourselves, what happens to my waste when I throw it away? Plastic, in it’s different forms, is a major culprit though not the only issue.

Credit: Pinterest

Plastics are being used in many different products. However, they do not have the durability of glass or metal. It was reported that 40% of plastics produced is ‘single use’ plastics. This means, 40% of the plastics we produce are designed to be used once and then thrown away. They include our disposable spoons and straws, ‘nylon’ carrier bags, and PET bottles. Most of these plastics are not biodegradable, if they are, it takes many many years for them to breakdown; and now we are seeing them in our oceans, affecting sea life. What can we do?

We can start by reducing our waste. If we don’t produce as much, then we have less that needs to be reused, recycled, rot or sent to landfills.

Credit: Pinterest

I understand that the decision to live a low waste lifestyle means I would minimise any toxic impact of my lifestyle choices on my body, environment and all Allaah’s creations. What I am hoping to do is work my way up from where I am and what I can afford. This would impact what I choose to eat, wear, the products I choose to use, what I may buy and the way I may dispose of the things I no longer need. I would attempt to eliminate toxic materials from my body and environment.

I want Allah (S) to be pleased with me, not simply because I love the look of glass and stainless steel but because this way of living will help me to be more mindful and make genuine conscious choices in the way that I choose to live. I would like to quote Amira Ayad in her book ‘Healing Body and Soul’, she says;

The intention… turns a mere mechanical ritual into true spiritual enlightenment.

May Allah (S) preserve us upon goodness and accept all our efforts to please Him. Aameen


Contributor

Raheema (Umm Khalid) is an entrepreneur, wife and mother living between Lagos, Nigeria and London, UK. She’s passionate about learning Islam, family and issues that affect the Muslim woman. She enjoys reading, photography, travel, and hosting sisters at home. Check out her Instagram page @the_elehaa her photo journal where she discusses different elements of her lifestyle.

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