Beyond Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

by Sarrah AbuLughod

“You’re going to what? and you’re taking what with you?” one of the attendee’s of the annual Green Muslims Zero-Trash Iftar narrated the confusion of her mother as she walked out of the house with a bag filled with a reusable plate, spoon, and cup.

She told the group that her mother insisted that she take some fresh fruit rather than any leftovers to the gathering. “Leftovers are stigmatized,” explained another participant in the evenings meal, “it’s not seen as proper to take something that was from another meal.”

Our very own holy book, the Quran, relates time and again that God does not favor the people who waste and yet when have we ever asked ourselves as a community what that really means? The discussion at the “leftar”, as it was coined, lead by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen, took us one step further. He challenged our community to think less about ourselves as consumers, and more about ourselves as directors in shaping the next movement.

“It’s not about just reduce, reuse, recycle any more. It’s about reduce, reuse, refuse!” Abdul-Matin encouraged our small community to look into other ways of making a difference. Whether it was starting to compost, refusing to buy products that are overly packaged, researching and beginning to use products that are made from whole materials, or even on an even simpler level, taking a reusable kit to every iftar in order to politely reduce the overwhelming Styrofoam mountain at the local mosque, one plate at a time.

The discussion moved to how to make leftovers more acceptable. Ideas about repurposing foods in order to not seem stingy or unprepared to guests were suggested. There was talk of jambalaya and gazpacho recipes. As we went around the circle during the meal, people shared what they had brought and how they had repurposed an old meal and made it new.

To me, this gathering of minds and good intentions was a blessed event . As a result of the zero-trash dinner, a small group of individuals in the DC area have been inspired to action and have decided to purchase the service of the local compost cab and take it one step further in reducing their Ramadan footprint.

Thank you to all that were able to share in our community dinner and may Allah bless you all with a successful Ramadan!

Sarrah Abulughod is Green Muslims’ Educational Programming Manger.


  1. omar
    April 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    How do you ensure that people are not bringing food that is safe for others to eat? Old food can be a safety issue.


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