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.

Islam and Ecology: Reflections on the Qur’anic Way

i May 8th 2 Comments by

Guest Blog: Guest blogger Mouna Mana reflects on the wisdom shared by Dr. Fred Denny at a guest lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the topic of environmental protection and Islam.

By Mouna Mana

A few weeks ago on April 10, Dr. Fred Denny, professor emeritus from University of Colorado-Boulder spoke at UW-Madison’s campus as a guest on the topic of environmental protection and Islam. The title of the talk drew me in, “Ecology and Islam.” I cannot pretend to know much about ecology, but I care enough to want to know more. Was he going to explain how ecology appears in Islamic texts, or was he going to talk about Muslims’ work (or lack thereof) in ecology? Was he going to raise any critiques or questions? Would I discover something new and insightful about the topic?

(more…)

News: Green Muslims on PBS!

PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly sat down with Green Muslims at a reflection-based discussion on verses from the Qur’an and narrations from the prophetic tradition related to the environment.

Watch Religion and the Environment on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


 The story and video are available online hereHost Lucky Severson interviewed Green Muslims Director Sarah Jawaid to discuss our work and her perspectives on faith-based environmental work. It will air on PBS stations across the country on Sunday morning. Check local listings for broadcast information.

The extended version of the interview with Sarah Jawaid is available below:

Watch Sarah Jawaid Extended Interview on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

 

 

What is a Khalifah? MIST Workshop Recap

In early April, Green Muslims led two workshops at the Muslims Inter-Scholastic Tournament (MIST) Richmond annual tournament  in Richmond, VA.

At the tournament, Sameer Siddiqi and Rizwaan Akhtar, Green Muslims board members, led a session called “Everyday Khalifah,” an interactive workshop and environmental stewardship training with young students and adults. The theme of this year’s competition was The Patience of Champions: Rising to a Better Self. The workshop participants focused on learning about the deeper meanings of being a “khalifah” and challenges and strategies related to doing so.

View photos from one of the two workshops below or view them on Facebook.

If interested in learning more about Green Muslims workshops and trainings, or if you are interested in coordinating a workshop, please email us or tweet us @GreenMuslims.

Pre-Ramadan Collective Consciousness

Ramadan always comes faster than expected and ends even sooner. In the midst of a busy and hectic life, preparing for the most blessed of months often falls to the wayside. However, with only about two weeks to go it is the perfect time to start creating the intention to make the most out of this Ramadan.

 

Ramadan is a time, as we all know, to be spent with community to share in the blessings that surround us and to think of those in need.  We have the opportunity to think of this time as a hardship, a test, or a blessing.  I have always felt that Ramadan is the ultimate test of willpower and a reflection on all the things, good and bad that have become habits for me. It has always been a time to assess the things I do, which are very often based on wants and needs. Through fasting, and through being mindful of my every action, I am given the opportunity in this month to truly revisit my daily life and reflect on ways towards self-improvement. This Ramadan however, in accordance with the mission of Green Muslims to promote the Islamic principle of environmental stewardship, it is my intention to not only consider ways towards a more wholesome self-reflection but to also assess how my lifestyle and actions impact the earth and the environment. We depend on the Earth for our livelihood and it sustains us. It is essential that we take time to reflect on whether our lifestyle is mindful of our impact on the Earth or if we are taking without consideration of the effect we are having on the environment. This Ramadan is the perfect time to judge both how are actions can work in the best way for ourselves and the Earth around us.

“O you people! Feel close (and love) your Guardian-Lord, Who created you, and those who came before you, That you may have the chance to learn righteousness; Who has made the earth your couch, and the skies your canopy; And sent down rain from the skies;  And brought forth from there Fruits for your sustenance …”  2:21-22

Sarina Bajwa is Green Muslims’ Community Outreach Manager.

Ramadan Reflection: Consumption and Empathy

We fast during the month of Ramadan for a number of reasons: to cleanse our spirits, refocus our minds for the coming year, empathize with the poor and most importantly, to strengthen our faith. Despite the obvious benefits, it is often difficult to balance the mental exhaustion due to waning energy and the resulting physical experience. We may even feel disempowered to complete our daily tasks. We continue onward with this struggle in hopes of coming closer to our Creator, despite the mental and physical difficulty associated with not eating and drinking.

Come sunset, we escape this struggle. The moment our bodies are once again nourished with food and water; we instantly become more present in our lives, more aware of our surroundings and have more faith in our ability to realize our human potential. So what about those who cannot escape? How can we expect the most broken, beaten and down-trodden in society to pull themselves out of poverty when their most basic needs are not met? That is a ridiculous expectation, given that we know how difficult this feat is in our own lives. Not to say we have the wisdom behind Allah’s gifts, but perhaps forcing us to see the plight of others through fasting is a very powerful gift, allowing us to be more aware of our own consumption patterns

This gift should be seen as a teaching mechanism, training us, through out 14 hours abstention from basic necessities. This fast, which is a commitment to God, acts as a shield. Come sunset, when this shield is taken away, it is important to remember our training throughout the day, paying special attention to what we consume. Being deprived for the day, our eyes will want to eat everything in sight; this same desire was locked up behind the shield of the fast. It would be ideal to take advantage of our training and consume that which is necessary. This level of self-restraint can be more broadly applied to our consumption of all material goods. Ramadan allows us to take an inventory of how we live and take the steps needed to become better versions of ourselves. Ramadan also creates ample opportunity for us to me more aware of our intake, our responsibilities in our communities and ultimately our carbon footprint. In the age of environmental awareness, Ramadan serves as a great impetus for Muslims to get involved in this process of reclaiming the environment and ourselves.

I am a green muslim, part 2

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

“Do good works, engage politically, and get involved: can’t change anything sitting on the sidelines.” – Keith Ellison

I wanted to share two recent interviews with two people I admire greatly, one as a religious scholar, the other political, but both for their efforts in articulating an authentic American Muslim voice and serving their community. Not particularly “green-related” but they answer perfectly the “why I do this” question.

The first is an interview with Imam Zaid Shakir by Asma Nemati, from Southern California InFocus:

InFocus: Do you have any specific advice to American Muslim and Muslims around the world?

ImamZaid: My advice to American Muslims would be to really think deeply on the opportunities that we have here and to take advantage of them, not to squander them with ignorance or short-sighted thinking; to really realize that we have tremendous opportunities in that our community is very wealthy, talented and highly educated. We should take advantage of those realities to try to organize ourselves and galvanize our energy and the potential we have to do something significant for the Muslim and non-Muslim people of the world.

In terms of advice for Muslims of the world, I would just say to look at the fullness of the religion and never lose touch with the heart of the religion, which is purification of the heart. If we have a deep relationship with Allah, it becomes very easy to keep all of the trials and tribulations of the world in perspective, and not to be overwhelmed by them.

(Via In the Land of Sand and Time.)

The second is an interview with Keith Ellison, by Wajahat Ali, from altmuslim. Along with questions on race and politics, the 2008 presidential campaigns, and Muslim political participation, Ali asks Rep. Ellison about the inspiration (or the ‘niyyah’) behind his work:

altmuslim: It sounds like you’re very passionate, Congressman…So, what inspired you to run, to take this leap, to be a trailblazer knowing you’re a Black man and a Muslim running for Congress?

KE: Well, you know, part of my involvement in politics is really rooted in my desire to try to promote unity among people, trying to promote unity with the Earth and creation, and trying to promote justice. That’s really the origin of my activism. We are also, as Muslims, urged to engage in shura, consultation, with what the community should do. So, I think my involvement is just to sort of try to help them do what’s best for the community and the world at large.

(And more on civic involvement from Islamica Magazine.)