Greener Ramadan for sustainability

Green Ramadan can revive Islam’s long tradition of sustainability and care for the planet

Tasneem HossainTasneem Hossain
Published : 28 March 2023, 09:39 PM
Updated : 28 March 2023, 09:39 PM

Global warming fuelling environmental degradation is a constant threat to our planet. We celebrate many environmental days: Earth Day, World Environment Day etc., to create awareness, contemplate, evaluate and take positive actions to mitigate unhealthy habits which are affecting our ecosystem negatively.

Ramadan is the holiest month in the calendar of Islam. During this month, around 2 billion Muslims fast from dawn to dusk as an act of their religious devotion and duty. It helps: boost physical and mental endurance; understand the trials and tribulations of the poor; contemplate and re-evaluate actions in life and rejuvenate the mind and body; purifies the soul and surroundings.

Green Ramadan can revive Islam’s long tradition of sustainability and care for the planet. It helps us shift towards a greener, sustainable, healthier, environment-friendly and non-wasteful way of life aiming to save natural resources. The overall well-being of life and the environment that we live in depends on our actions.

Sadly, during Ramadan, we start over-consuming food after the whole-day fast. It’s actually our mouth and minds, not the stomach or body, need extra food.

The Green Ramadan campaign aims to educate and inspire Muslims to green their Ramadan by reducing waste and using resources responsibly, improving the quality of life and achieving sustainable development. “Sustainable eating is choosing healthy and less processed foods with lower environmental impact, improving food security for all.”

The virtues and benefits of a Green Ramadan are innumerable. So, let’s exercise moderation and eat healthy and organic food in manageable portions.

To achieve that, we should cut down on food and avoid preparing more than necessary quantities of food to avoid food waste. After all, the number of deep-fried Piyaju and Beguni we prepare exceeds the limit, which is not consumable the next day and thrown away. Please think of the wastage of ingredients and consumption of unhealthy oil that we consume daily for the full month. If you have an air fryer, use that for frying. That’s the best choice. The usual Chhola can be boiled and mixed with Chaat spices, lots of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green chillies and coriander leaves rather than frying in oil.

We all know the harmful effects of sugar on the body, yet, Iftar starts with highly sugar-packed juices. These can be replaced with fresh fruit juice, lemon juice with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of honey or Chia seeds soaked in water. These are highly energy-boosting.

Do you know eating one less burger a week saves as much greenhouse gas as a car would produce if it drove 320 miles!

Avoid fast foods during Iftars. Of course, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your taste buds. Having fast food once in a while can help satisfy your taste buds and help achieve sustainable health.

Muslims can follow Green Iftar, encouraging an increased intake of fresh vegetables and fruits, especially the seasonal and locally available ones. Local produce is more sustainable as it contains antioxidants and beneficial nutrients and is cost-effective. Some of the most sustainable fruits and vegetables are pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beetroots, beans, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, apples, citrus fruits, papayas, guava and bananas. Plant-based diets are proven to reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases.

Whole grains, oatmeal and millets are high in fibre and prevent constipation. These are full of essential nutrients that help save energy during fasting hours. These are also cost-effective and can be preserved for a long time.

The nutritional value of meat is high but should be eaten in significantly smaller proportions. Large portions of red and processed meat consumption can lead to stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Studies suggest that the red meat industry contributes to significant greenhouse gas emissions. So it’s best to go for meatless Iftars for a day or two. Instead, add more soup, salad and fruits. It will save a few pounds of money and harmful carbon emissions, making it an eco-friendly Ramadan.

Reduce food waste at Iftar time by cooking or taking out only as needed. Please arrange to have reusable containers for leftovers to be distributed to those who need them. You can also refrigerate in identifiable containers to use the next day.

We can cook foods in large portions to be kept in the refrigerator, e.g. Chhola, Halwa, main curry dishes etc. It will help save cooking time, manual labour, and food wastage and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ah! Those taste buds start tickling seeing sweets.

Sweet kills! Sugary foods add to weight gain, obesity, type 3 diabetes, heart disease, and cavities in teeth. We can replace sweets with dry fruits, dates and fresh fruits. Honey, maple syrup, date syrup and molasses can be used for sweetening dishes in smaller quantities. It’s best to go without any sweetener with tea or coffee.

Buying food like rice, wheat, lentils, onions, garlic, spices and oil in bulk during Ramadan sales can save money and reduce plastic waste, as grocery shopping more often increases the number of bags. Use reusable containers and jute bags or Khala Cloths for packaging.

These can be stored for long periods, so there is no fear of wastage. At the same time, it will help save time and fuel consumption as you don’t need to use transportation too frequently.

During Ramadan, many Muslims break their fast in mosques.

We can all contribute to conserving energy and saving this planet of ours. While going to mosques, carpooling or taking public transit can reduce the number of vehicles. Fewer cars mean less carbon and pollution; less gas usage and money; more free time to connect with the people riding together; less traffic on the road, and more parking spaces available. We can also bike or walk to mosques near our houses and contribute to saving the environment.

Iftar in mosques often results in one-time use like plastic or Styrofoam utensils and plastic water bottles. Reusable earthenware utensils can replace these.

Less litter-less pollution.

The same can be applied during Iftar parties at home, or a company to provide reusable utensils can be hired. We can also take a reusable water bottle instead of drinking bottled water.

Dimming lights during Tarawih prayers not only helps save electricity costs but also keeps the space cooler. Replace incandescent light bulbs with halogen incandescent bulbs and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). Switch off when not needed.

Keeping outside doors and windows closed when the air conditioning is on also reduces energy consumption.

Climate change is already a threat to water. Reduce water usage by turning the tap to a slow trickle or filling up a container to perform wudu. Take care to close the tap properly. Leaking taps should be taken care of.

Be mindful of using water for washing dishes and utensils at home too.

Remember, there are areas where people have to walk miles to get water for household chores and drinking purposes. In Africa alone, women spend an estimated 200 million hours collecting water daily.

We can also plant trees and take care of plants and trees.

Let Green Ramadan habits be an ideal model for life.

Let’s all unite to encourage and embrace ‘green’ and eco-friendly practices. Each one of us can contribute and make a difference to the planet by adopting a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. Each individual action will contribute to a larger collective difference in saving our world.

This earth is our home. It’s our responsibility to nurture and keep it safe for our own sake and future generations.

Go Green!

[Tasneem Hossain is a multilingual poet, columnist, op-ed and fiction writer, translator and training consultant. She is the Director of the Continuing Education Centre, Bangladesh.]


1. Bell, Jennifer, Al Arabiya English, AL ARABIYA news.

2. Green Ramadan, Khaleafa

3. Calls for a ‘green’ Ramadan revive Islam’s long tradition of sustainability and care for the planet, The Conversation.