The Blog

Conservation and Efficiency During Winter Months

By: Omar Bagnied

Winter’s cold months are ahead. As you gear-up for the season, here are some ways you can also help prepare your home to be warm and energy efficient all while saving money.

It is He who has appointed you guardians in the earth… (Surat al An’am, Ayah 165)

Air leaks are one of the main reasons for high energy bills during winter months. Several openings in your home allow cold air to enter and hot air to exit, thus making your heating system work harder. Here are some ways to identify those leaks and cover them:

Check for plumbing penetrations.
Often after plumbing work is done, gaps are left around the area. Foam (spray or rigid) can be applied to cover the area.

fireplace-chimney

Maintain your fireplace and chimney.
While your fireplace is in use make sure the damper is open, doors leading into the room are closed, and your thermostat is turned down to lower than usual.

Open dampers are equivalent to wide-open windows. If you don’t use your fireplace, make sure the damper is tightly closed, and consider putting a cover on your chimney.

Use caulk as an adhesive to cover air leaks inside your home, around the fireplace hearth, as well as outside your home in the structural area between your chimney and home.

save-energy-weatherstripping

Weatherize doors and windows.
Consider weatherstripping your doors and windows. To prevent heat from escaping, you can apply clear plastic film firmly around windows inside your home.

When the sun is out, open your blinds that face it. As evening approaches, close them to mitigate cold air intrusion.

The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it… (Hadith via Muslim)

Other sources of high utility bills include inefficient use of utility outlets, lighting and water.

Assess utility outlets.
In an average household about 40 items are plugged-in at any given time. When items are not in use or turned-off, they still draw “phantom” power (or idle current) while plugged in.Let’s do the math! Say an electronic device, such as a blu-ray or DVD player, is plugged-in but never or rarely used for an entire year draws 15 watts of electricity (1 watt/yr = 8.76 kWh/yr).

If the cost of your electricity is $0.11/kWh, you’re spending roughly $14.50/yr on an item you never or seldom use just because it’s left plugged-in. When you consider the 30+ other items plugged in, it’s no surprise the average American household spends approximately $100/yr on items that are plugged-in but turned-off. A simple fix can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Re-consider the light bulbs you use!
While incandescent light bulbs may be cheaper, they are tremendously inefficient when it comes to using power. CFLs (compact fluorescents) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) bulbs cost more on the front end, but use far less electricity.

Did you know, a 60 watt incandescent bulb uses 4x more electricity than a 14 watt CFL, and 6x more electricity than a 12.5 watt LED? The average lifetime of said incandescent is 1 year, comparatively, the CFL lasts roughly 7 years, and the LED 20 years!If you consider the average household has 25 light bulbs in use at any given time, over a 50,000-hour period the savings you’d accrue by using a CFL or LED over an incandescent would exceed $6,000.

And tell them that the water shall be shared between them (Surat al Qamar, Ayah 28)

Conserve Water
A seemingly innocent drip can turn into gallons if left alone! To conserve water inside your home, try simple things like:

  • fixing water leaks
  • shortening time spent in the shower
  • closing the faucet while brushing your teeth

Collect, store and reuse rainwater. Install a rain barrel or plant native greenery that will better soak water back into the ground. We’re all part of the same global water source as many small bodies of water feed into larger ones.

…waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters (Surat al A’raf, Ayah 21)

Incorporating all these changes at once might be a tall task. A good takeaway here is simply knowledge on ways to conserve resources, be efficient and save money. Perhaps choose a few small steps to start, and remember that espousing conservation and shunning excess are truly Islamic values.


References:
“Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips”. US Dept of Energy. 21 October 2013. http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

Brindle, Beth. “How much can you save by unplugging appliances?”. Howstuffworks. http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/how-much-save-unplugging-appliances1.htm

“LED Light Bulbs: Comparison Chart”. Eartheasy. http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html

Braun-Greiner, Kolya. Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Phone Interview.

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. (more…)

Iftaar Recap

The following was originally posted here.

Good morning, everyone! InshAllah, your weeks are off to a good start, even if it is Monday and you do not want to be back to the grind. Personally, this day is always a mixture of excitement at the prospect of making progress on life goals and loathing of the work week’s monotony. This past weekend, especially, is difficult to say good-bye to since it was very relaxing and involved an iftaar with friends in Meridian Hill Park.

Although I lived in the area and passed it everyday on my commute into work on a Metro bus, I never explored Meridian Hill/Malcom X Park prior to last night. Like the National Mall, which seemingly is unending stretches of dirt paths encasing a grassy interior, Meridian Hill encompasses several city blocks in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC’s Northwest quadrant. Each week the park hosts a famous drum circle where individuals bring drums of all varieties and play to a dancing crowd for almost 12 hours straight. What a background soundtrack to an interfaith iftaar I thought, with its constant beat that ebbed and flowed with the sun and light breeze passing through the nearby trees. As twilight approached, my group of friends and I gathered on some blankets and shared several delicious dishes together to celebrate the conclusion of another blessed day of fasting. Such highlights, which are included below, were a roasted eggplant dish, orzo with feta and grape tomatoes, and peanut butter cookies (note to anyone looking for one of my favorite foods, here is one). Thanks to my friends in the awesome Green Muslims group, who also participate in the weekly halaqa group. They were kind enough to rent me a reusable cutlery set that included plates and cups. Check out their website for information pertaining to how you can rent different size party sets for your next event; where else can you rent everything for $10?! The beauty of these sets is that you are not only preventing more trash from going into a landfill, probably incorrectly separated too, but that you also contribute to the good works of an environmental organization. (more…)

Winners of the Ramadan Footprint Photo Contest

i Aug 31st No Comments by

This Ramadan, we launched a photo contest where we asked you to post photos of you “in the act” of reducing your Ramadan footprint. We received many photos posted to our Facebook page, and the winners were chosen based on # of Likes each received.

The 1st place winner will receive a package from My Halal Kitchen, a reusable Nalgene water bottle, and coupons for free products at Saffron Road.

The 2nd place winner will receive a reusable Nalgene water bottle and coupons for free products at Saffron Road.

And the winners are…

1st place: Kori Majeed for her photo of her reusable iftar-ware!
2nd place: Amira AbuLughod for her photo of recycled Ramadan house decorations!

Special thanks to all who posted and especially to our generous donors and partners: (more…)

A Brief Introduction to Permaculture: Sustaining Our Future

A Brief Introduction to Permaculture: Sustaining Our Future and Why It Matters to Muslims 

By Tara Tariq and Sakina Grome

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

– Albert Einstein

In 2005, the United States Department of Energy published a report titled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, (also known as the Hirsch report). The report predicts that the production of oil that fuels today’s economy and our lifestyle will peak and decline in the coming years. According to some industry analysts, it has already peaked. The report also underscores the inevitable and “unprecedented risk management problem” that Peak-Oil will present to the world.

Today we have reached a moment, a status quo that is characterized by extreme imbalance of resource depletion and consumption and it did not happen overnight: The famines in East Africa, riots in Indonesia, warfare in the Middle East, and tight-fisted policies regulating under- developed regions and their precious resources all share the common denominator of natural- resource and food insecurity. (more…)

Ramadan Footprint Photo Contest

THE RAMADAN FOOTPRINT PHOTO CONTEST
GREEN YOUR RAMADAN. SNAP A PIC. WIN A PRIZE.

This Ramadan, make a pledge to reduce your footprint and then share a photo of you “in the act” on the Green Muslims Facebook page.

The photo on our Facebook Page that gets the most Likes by the day of Eid will win and receive a generous prizes:

  1. My Halal Kitchen
  2. Nalgene
  3. Saffron Road!!

Your Photos: Get as creative, funny, or inspiring as you’d like! Just add a description in the caption of what you’re doing.

Need Inspiration? The Green Muslims team has put together a list of suggested activities (below) that you could photograph in any way you’d like. Any other ideas or green activities are encouraged as well!

10 Suggested Ways to Reduce Your Ramadan Footprint

1.) Forgo styrofoam! Ramadan iftars are often filled with styrofoam plates or cups, so bring your own reusable tableware to iftars to reduce waste. Styrofoam is harmful to the environment and takes a very long time to decompose. Recycle!

2.) Lessen your carbon footprint. Carpool, ride a bike, or walk to your iftars, taraweeh prayers, and anywhere else!

3.) Check your usage! Conserve electricity, gas and water. Be conscious of waste. Do your wudu with less water, cook with less, or pray by candlelight.

4.) Host a Zero-Trash Iftar. Ask people to bring their own plates/utensils or provide reusable tableware. You could always rent a set from Green Muslims! Use Green Khutba resources to share some tips to continue the environmentally-conscious ideas the rest of the month. Turn leftovers into a leftar. Don’t waste a morsel!

5.) Raise consciousness amongst your community about over-consumption. Take stock of what you have in your house; is there anything that can be better served by giving it to someone else? Volunteer at a local GoodWill storage room. The amount of stuff that needs sorting is eye-opening. And this is the stuff worthy of being used by someone else…Imagine what sits in the trash dump.

6.) Rock the boat! Ask your local mosque leaders to recycle, stop using styrofoam, stop using plastic water bottles (watch the documentary Tapped for inspiration),  and feel inspired to push the congregation to reduce water usage while making wudu. The Prophet pbuh only used a small amount of water to cleanse himself. It will take a long time for these kind of changes to take place, but it’s worth the effort.

7.) Plant a seed this Ramadan! Challenge yourself to spend some time in the garden. If gardening isn’t your thing or the land is arid, plant some herbs in a pot. Watch first hand a miracle of Allah swt take place in front of your eyes. The world is full of miracles for us to reflect and think upon.

8.) Pray under the stars. Remind yourself how small you are by praying under the vastness of the sky that holds us. We are small but our impact can be large. As inheritors of the earth, how are we fulfilling the trust we have with God to protect it? Pray for our planet and each other.

9.) Eat healthy food. Go to the farmer’s market and choose fresh, local produce.

10.) Fast! Eat less. Sometimes we even eat more in Ramadan than other months. Celebrate Ramadan by actually eating and consuming less. For any non-perishable food in your house that you’re not eating, donate it!

Most importantly, set your intention for a Green Ramadan. Create a support network and set some goals to make this a green ramadan. And then continue to reflect on how you’ve grown over the last month!

For more ideas, check out our Ramadan tool-kit!

Going forward, try to continue the more environmentally friendly habits you have started this Ramadan. Take the knowledge you have gained and turn it into conviction.

Announcing: Green Muslims’ Zero Trash Party Set!

Are you planning a Super Bowl party this Sunday?

Plan ahead and avoid using any disposable plates or utensils by borrowing the Green Muslims’ Zero Trash Party Set!

The party set includes:

  • Large & Small plates
  • Cups & Utensils
  • BPA & Melanine free
  • Made from 100% recycled materials.

    Order Your Set!

Order online for just a small donation that will support future Green Muslims’ programming. We value any contribution you can make to raising awareness and reducing waste.

Dicounts available for:

  • Sending us your party photos!
  • Writing a blog post!

We welcome any questions or feedback!

A Jewish Approach to Ecological Dinners

While our own No Impact Iftar had to unfortunately be cancelled do to the Hurricane Irene, we wanted to share a similar model of community, food, and ecological stewardship. The following is from Green Muslims partner and friend, Joelle Novey, and Green Muslims is forever indebted to her for all the countless help she has offered. Here is her introduction to a ecologically friendly Shabbat dinner (excerpted from the book Empowered Judaism by Elie Kaunfer):

At Tikkun Leil Shabbat (whose name alludes to tikkun olam – repairing the world), more than 150 folks in their twenties and thirties gather regularly on Friday nights for a songful, soulful service featuring a teaching about a social justice issue—and just about all of them stick around afterwards to share a vegetarian potluck dinner.

For more than four years, Tikkun Leil Shabbat in Washington, DC has managed to establish a system for hosting collaborative Shabbat dinners without using disposable plates, cutlery, or napkins, while meeting the needs of people with varied practices of kashrut. People share the work of cleaning up while maintaining an atmosphere of oneg Shabbat (delight in Shabbat).

The “two-table” potluck system, which TLS borrowed from the independent minyan Kol Zimrah (Sound of Song) in New York (who claim it may have originated, in turn, back in DC) is designed to honor a variety of Jewish dietary practices. We have one table for vegetarian food and another table for vegetarian food which is also hekhshered or made in a hekhsher-only kitchen, each with its own sets of dishes and cutlery that are washed separately. This makes it possible for the maximum number of people both to eat and to contribute food. By saying “vegetarian” and “hekhshered,” rather than “not kosher” and “kosher,” we make clear that TLS is not taking any position on what it means to keep kosher, but is simply setting out a logistical arrangement so that we all can share the meal.

Reusable Dishes
We’ve also sought to minimize waste from disposable tableware. On both potluck tables, we use lightweight reusable Preserve plates and cups from Recycline, made from recycled yogurt containers. We use a collection of previously loved forks purchased from Goodwill and donated by participants, and wash and reuse plastic cutlery and cups. We use a colorful collection of cloth napkins we procured on Craig’s List and through donations from participants—a volunteer launders them after each Tikkun Leil Shabbat. We recycle glass, plastic, and aluminum containers after TLS meals. (To keep the separateness of the hekhsher tableware simple, the “H-table” sports its own set of dishes, serving utensils, and sponges, all of a “lime-green” color, and its own dish bin that sits under the hekhsher table. When an “H” fork or plate finds its way into the wrong bin from time to time, it is retired.)

At least 30 people end up playing a role in washing all these dishes after dinner. We have developed an extensive online spreadsheet of a dozen volunteer roles at each TLS, including, for example, a “Food Monitor” who sets and refreshes the buffet tables, and two “Dish Captains,” one for each potluck table. The fifteen members of the Tomchei Tikkun (Supporters of the Minyan) coordinating team play a “spreadsheet role” pretty much every time. Additionally, a group of reliable volunteers, known as the “Tachlist,” gets an e-mail inviting them to sign up for these spreadsheet roles as well (a list of tasks for each role is included in the spreadsheet for those signing up for the first time).

Attendees are invited to volunteer for 10-minute dishwashing shifts by accepting a colorful lei necklace, which they wear while they’re helping, and can then bestow on someone else, until the dishes are all clean. (We like to joke that we are a “lei-led” Jewish community.) The volunteers circulating in the crowd collecting dishes with a Hawaiian necklace on add to a generally festive atmosphere, and some of the best conversations, new melodies, and personal connections at Tikkun Leil Shabbat happen around the kitchen during dishwashing.

On several different dimensions, Tikkun Leil Shabbat’s dinner system reflects our community’s core values:

  • It is pluralistic, because it permits people with various practices of kashrut to eat and to contribute food.
  • It is egalitarian, because everyone brings food to help create the meal, and just about everyone ends up helping to clean up, through a combination of roles signed up for in advance (like Dish Captain) or accepted in the moment (like a lei for 10 minutes of dishwashing).
  • Just as important, by having named roles and physical markers of who is helping and how at a given meeting, we also help to clarify who is “off the hook” this week. Naming explicitly who has signed up for particular tasks helps prevent certain conscientious souls, or women more likely to have been socialized to help with dishes, from accidentally becoming the default cleaning crew week after week.
  • It is socially conscious, by being mindful of minimizing our waste from disposables, and modeling a greener way of eating (vegetarian, and using reusable napkins and dishware).
  • Finally, it is community-building. By involving so many people, even those newly arrived, in the act of helping to feed one another and then doing the dishes, we’ve created an atmosphere of hands-on participation and provided the context for many conversations and connections that arose around the sinks.

Someone wrote a satirical song about TLS last year, which included the line: “You just might get your wishes; meet your soul mate washing dishes . . .” While we have yet to report an incidence of true love arising from dishwashing at TLS, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that our dish system in all its glory is one of our community’s spiritual practices.

Joelle Novey directs Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, which supports faith communities from across the DC area in saving energy, going green, and responding to climate change. She helps to coordinate Tikkun Leil Shabbat, an independent Jewish community that gathers in Dupont Circle for songful, soulful Shabbat services featuring a teaching about a social justice issue and followed by a potluck vegetarian dinner.

Introducing the Ramadan Tool-Kit!

Ramadan
Enhance your Ramadan experience this year, by following along with the Green Muslim’s as they practice “greener” habits. Each day we contemplate an inspirational ayah, quote, or hadith and incorporate the teachings of our tradition into our practice with a daily challenge and reflection. Follow along!

Whether as a community, a family or an individual, the Ramadan tool-kit is a powerful way to green your deen during this holy month. Join us and our friends and partners all over the world in incorporating the eco-conscious teachings of our tradition into our practice with a daily challenge and reflection.

Download the Toolkit Here!

Simple Steps

Yesterday, my brother and I went on a lengthy bike ride, weaving through the buildings of DC proper and passing by the national monuments only to arrive at a secluded area on the edges of the Georgetown Waterfront. I sat upon the stone cliffs overlooking the Washington Harbor and couldn’t help but smile looking down at the purity of the blue water and the fresh green in the surrounding trees, listening to the laughs and cheers from the kayaking locals.

For a brief few moments I was able to think beyond the work I was behind in, the emails I was yet to respond to and the general reality that I didn’t have time to sit here. I began to reflect on how essential it is that we, as the DC community, do our best to preserve that natural beauty and build a stronger relationship with it.

As part of Green Muslims, I would love to discuss topics of conversations that can range from things as simple as ways we can work to green our daily lives to things a bit more complicated like expanding the ways we get our daily supply of energy and how we can raise awareness about how to lower energy consumption. I feel that Green Muslims will be a great opportunity to establish an open dialogue on these issues and a great opportunity to grow in understanding as to the relationship we should be having as Muslims with the environment.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgDJ_H-BzFo

Faizan Tahir is in his second year of undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he is studying Political Science and Legal Studies.