In the struggle to provide for family, Muslims often forget their responsibility to ensure the health of the planet we live on so that it can continue to sustain quality life for future generations. People get so busy with their day-to-day tasks that they find it difficult to change habits that may be unnecessarily wasteful or harmful. Further, many people remain cynical, claiming that their efforts would not make a difference to the environment or that environmental concerns are exaggerated for political reasons.
Islamic ideology is at odds with behaviors that are wasteful and extreme. Simple reason and basic responsibility lead us to understand that we should avoid waste and adopt behaviors that will not harm the planet whenever possible.
Here are five easy things you can do to save both energy and money!
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Pay attention to packaging when you buy, and try to buy items that are less wasteful in packaging. Buy items that last longer and can be reused to keep them out of landfills. For example, use a reusable water bottle instead of buying water bottles and throwing them away. (Especially since most bottled water is the same as tap water anyway!) Also, help keep things out of landfills, and keep more from unnecessarily being made by recycling. Many communities offer free curbside recycling. If yours does not, many people can bring their recyclables to work or to a local grocery store or recycle center for free. It takes only a few minutes of planning, and one person can prevent huge amounts of waste.
2. Turn things off and unplug: If you're not using something, make sure it is turned off. For instance, don't leave lights on that aren't needed. Did you know that many appliances and electronics draw energy even when off? Many cell phone chargers draw energy even when the cell phone isn't attached, so unplug it unless you're using it. Televisions draw energy even when turned off as well. A simple solution is to put all your media electronics onto a power strip and turn the power strip off when not in use. You will see money savings and avoid harmful waste with this simple step.
3. Buy natural, local, and low-energy: Buy energy-efficient appliances and fuel-efficient cars. Replace all your light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Buy natural products, such as organic foods, whenever possible. Also, buy locally produced items, and you will be helping to save huge amounts of energy as well as supporting your local economy.
4. Enjoy nature: Keep your own organic vegetable garden. Plant trees. Make sure you and your family spend time in nature to appreciate and strengthen your natural connection to our planet. When you play in parks, go hiking or geocaching, and have family picnics and camping trips. You will promote your family bond and health, as well as develop deeper appreciation and understanding for our dependency on God and the fragility and beauty of life.
5. Use less: Turn down the water temperature on the washer and water heater. Use the AC less and windows more. Use the heater less and sweaters more. Walk, ride a bike, carpool, use mass transit or go to a closer destination whenever possible. Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth. Use a low-flow toilet or put a plastic milk jug of water in your toilet tank. Repair your shoes, clothes, electronics and other items instead of buying new, or make your own items from existing materials, or buy used. Instead of throwing away items you don't want, give them to charity or use freecycle.org to find them good homes and look for items your want or need. It's fun!