Indonesian Mosques Launch Ramadan Anti-Plastic Drive

JAKARTA – Greenpeace Indonesia and the Indonesian Ulema Council have launched a fighting pollution campaign this week to mark the World Environment Day, on June 5, at Pondok Indah Grand Mosque in South Jakarta.

“Plastic waste is a major issue in Indonesia. In 2015, Indonesia ranked second highest in the amount of waste produced,” Muharram Atha Rasyadi, a Greenpeace campaigner, told UCA News.

The leading environmental organization wants to make use of the holy month of Ramadan as a platform for the campaign against the use of plastic in Indonesian mosques to fight pollution in the most populous Muslim country in the world.

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Hayu S. Prabowo, chairman of the Ulema Council’s Environment and Natural Resources Preservation Desk, said Islam does teach the need to care for nature.

“Muslims aren’t only told to maintain a good relationship with God and others but also with nature so that it brings benefits to them,” he said.

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Fatah, who manages Pondok Indah Grand Mosque, said the mosque produces a lot of plastic waste during Ramadan.

“A lot is produced and removed every day during Ramadan. The mosque usually gets rid of garbage every four days,” he said.

Rasyadi informed that “people tend to consume more during Ramadan. Fast-breaking meals in plastic containers are held at mosques. This adds to the amount of plastic waste.”

“Our campaign encourages Muslims to use glass or tableware for religious events and raising awareness among Muslims about environmental protection, would focus on Jakarta and Bandung to begin with,” he continued.

In 2017, Jakarta produced 7,000 tons of waste each day. About 1,050 tons representing 15% of that figure was plastic waste. In the same year, Bandung produced 1,500 tons of waste, with a similar percentage of plastic waste.

“People are ‘trapped’ in a single-use habit. They use single-use plastic such as bottles, bags, straws, and containers without thinking of the consequences on nature,” Rasyadi said, adding that plastic waste is choking the country’s seas and ruining fish stocks.

In 2017, the government committed to reducing marine plastic debris by 70% by the end of 2025. The year previously, it launched its “Indonesia Free Waste 2020” campaign and began a trial policy to reduce plastic waste by instructing retailers to charge customers 200 rupiahs (less than 1 US cent) for each plastic bag used.