In the spirit of reducing consumption during Ramadan and using it as a time for reflection and awareness, I challenge you to a "Buy Nothing Ramadan."
You've heard all the news stories on the environment: global warming, air and water pollution, species extinction, loss of forest, etc. Whether you believe that our planet is heading for an immediate catastrophe or not, you have to realize that, as Americans, we just consume A LOT. If you look at our Ecological Footprint - a measure of consumption and waste production that is translated into the amount of land needed to maintain these services (see here) - an average American needs 24 "acres" of land to support his current lifestyle. I took the quiz and, even if the whole world were semi-green like me, we would still need 3.7 earths to survive (17 acres per person). Take the quiz and see what you get.
As a Muslim with "environmentalist" tendencies, I believe that this sort of consumption is not just inequitable but largely unsustainable. I also believe that we can make a difference through our individual decisions.
I invite you to take the barakah of Ramadan to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, be more mindful of our actions and their environmental impact, and reduce material consumption.
The idea of the Buy-Nothing Ramadan comes from the Compact movement, first started in the San Francisco area where members agreed to go a year without buying anything.
The Compact aims to:
"1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)"
Here are the rules (modified from here):
1. Don't buy any new products. Exceptions: Food and drink, medicine, personal items (ex. socks and underwear), services, charitable contributions, and gifts (in moderation).
2. For other items, borrow or buy used.
3. Take the time you would spend shopping in other productive ways (read Quran, spend time with your family, volunteer for a local community organization, etc).
Feel free to add other "rules" for your personal Compact - unplug from TV and internet media, try carpooling to reduce vehicle trips - be creative and challenge yourself! Use Ramadan as a time to be more mindful of not only your eating habits, but of your overall consumption. Food for thought: Turn the tide and how to host a eco-friendly iftar
More information on The Compact: Blog; Yahoogroup; and SF Chronicle Article.