Countering consumerism can not only save you cash and coins this Ramadan but it can save your masjid money. Then, that money can be put towards better things: feeding those without food, paying Quran teachers, developing Islamic institutions of higher learning, and the list goes on.
How can you save your masjid money? Simple. Get yourself a "Ramadan Kit." Use what you already have at home, remember, no buying anything new. All you need is a reusable bag (canvas or otherwise), a plate, a spoon, a fork, a reusable water bottle/canteen, and a hand towel.
Mosques waste far too much during Ramadan. Iftars and taraweah prayers are places where we can think, really think and reflect, about our negative impact on the planet. However, iftars and taraweah prayers are the places where enormous amounts of paper products, plastic cutlery, foam cups, and water bottles are bought, used, thrown away. Then bought, used, thrown away again. Then bought, used, thrown away again and again for 30 days.
The mosque I attend for taraweah prayers is absolutely lovely. The environment is perfect for me to recite, reflect, and revere. If only they would reduce, reuse, recycle. Each night, after 4 rakats of Taraweah, during the break, out come the Poland Springs water bottles. It's a lovely thought to quench the thirst of worshipers - but at what cost to the mosque? At what cost to the country?
Brothers and sisters go through through 3 packs of 48 water bottles each night. Multiplied by 30 nights that comes to 4,320 bottles for the month of Ramadan. That comes to approximately $4,320 for the month on water, only during Taraweah prayers. I wonder how much is spent on water for iftars - which most likely has far more attendees? Please note: NYC has over 200 mosques and this one that I attend is one of the smallest. How many mosques are in the country?
Now before you say, $4,320 for the whole month isn't that much for the mosque (but it is!!), let's consider the cost as a country. Americans buy 500 million bottles of water every week or 26 billion bottles of water each year. If each bottle costs $1, that's $26billion we spend on bottled water.
What is our contribution as Muslims? Well, if we are 7million strong in this country of 300million, we are 2.3% of the population. If we are consuming bottled water at the same rate of the rest of America, we are spending almost $600million annually. Monthly, that's $50million. Now, since this is Ramadan, imagine that our bottled water expenditures are 3 times that of a non-Holy month. We're spending up to $150million on bottled water in one month.
Check out "The Story of Bottled Water" by Annie Leonard.
It costs $20 to give one person clean water for 20 years in developing nations. As Muslims, if we stopped drinking bottled water just during Ramadan, we could give 7.5million people access to clean water for 20 years each.
Check out "Charity: Water."
Now, I've only selected to discuss bottled water here. But the costs of our iftars and taraweah prayers go on and on. Lights that can be turned down or off; paper towels that can be eliminated by us bringing our own hand towels from home; and of course, as previously mentioned, the disposables used to break our fasts - plates, bowls, cups, napkins, etc., etc., etc., that can disappear if we all assembled our own "Ramadan Kits."
The Earth is a mosque. Mosques are to be kept clean and safe for worship. If the Earth is a mosque, it too is to be kept clean and safe for worship. If we're creating waste in the mosque and throwing it onto the Earth, do we truly recognize the planet's sacredness?
Learn more about what you can do to treat the Earth as mosque by requesting "Green Your Deen in 30 Days." Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with "guide" in the subject line. A PDF will appear in your inbox that will guide you towards a Green Deen and a greener, greater planet, inshaAllah and Ameen.
-Brooklyn Bedouin, AKA, ibrahim abdul-matin is author of "Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet." Learn more at www.greendeenbook.com-