This year, the United Arab Emirates will connect the religious period of Ramadan with the theme of World Environment Day, “reduce your footprint”. Traditionally a time of introspection, fasting, and prayer, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is an important time of  year, and the impact of an environmental movement during this time could be very powerful.

The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi has partnered with charitable organizations to donate 250 meals of untouched leftover food to homeless. The agency is committed to this goal for the next 5 years. The program will be introduced at the beginning of Ramadan and launched at the end of the month around August 7.

Organic waste accounts for nearly 395 of all total household waste in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This organic waste actually increases the percentage of waste in landfills and leads to the increase in carbon emissions as well. According to UN experts, this type of waste in landfills emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. To combat this environmental issue, The Environmental Agency will use the month of Ramadan as a moral incentive to protect the environment by reducing food waste. Using a quote from the Quran, the agency encourages people to make only enough food for the guests at the table and to measure portions amongst other environmentally friendly actions.

By reducing food waste, more meals can be delivered to the poor.  Quattro Group, a food service company, will provide restaurants with 250 uneaten meals from cafes and restaurants. These meals will be given to the Saving Grace Project, which will then hand them over to low-income communities. The food-handling team has established a timetable to collect and distribute meals efficiently, as well as ensuring that health and safety are top priorities.

In addition to the food donation program, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi has launched its own awareness campaign to encourage people throughout the country to consider waste when making food decisions. Fozeya Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, director of the agency’s environmental outreach division, has stated that waste reduction is vital for a nation with limited food and water resources. To Mahmoud and other, Ramadan is the ideal time to begin to instill a new culture of reducing food waste.

The campaign incorporates religious values with 10 tips on reducing your carbon footprint. Tips range from planning meals, avoiding grocery shopping when hungry, composting organic waste, to donating food to those in need.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: Muslim Village, The National
Photo: Washington Post