Muslim Eco Ladies Cut Waste at Thornhill Mosque

A local mosque in Thornhill, Toronto has succeeded in cutting down its carbon footprint, following a special effort to cut waste and promote greet dinners at the center, The Star reported.

The effort at the Jaffari Community Center started one night in 2013 after its members noticed mountains of plastic waste after a Ramadan iftar.

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“One day we were like, ‘this is wrong, this is just wrong,’” recalled Shelina Jessa.

“After that we kind of put our heads together, and said, ‘we’ve got to do something.’”

From that moment in 2013 came the spark for the Ladies Eco Team, a group of about half a dozen women, including Jessa, who eventually took on the mission of greening dinners at the center.

Six years later they now use a mix of compostable and reusable cutlery and plates, despite a higher cost, organizing volunteer dishwashers, and eco stations at events to separate waste.

At the Jaffari Community Centre, a few determined women managed to cut bags of garbage after events from 20 to 30 bags down to two to three bags, Jessa said, and food waste is being composted instead of just thrown out.

There was some confusion at first, and they had to put up signs for the community, but now “everybody knows exactly what to do.”

“There’s a huge, huge awareness that’s spread,” Jessa said. “I think it actually has snowballed.”

The effort has won praise from Jessica Green, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto who specializes in climate change.

These kinds of groups can “build communities of like-minded people who are willing to take action and support each other and that’s going to be increasingly important.”

“The bottom line is that social movements and grassroots efforts are really important because climate change is a political problem and not a technical problem,” she added.

“So, it all starts at the very bottom with each individual person.”

The effort by the local Muslim community is not the first to be led by mosques across the world.

Earlier this year, the Islamic Institute of Toronto launched Waste Free Ramadan, an initiative that bans plastic water bottles from being used or distributed at the mosque.

Mosques across Britain also banned the use of plastics during the holy month in 2019.

In 2017, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) launched a campaign urging Muslims, mosques and Islamic center to implement practices and policies that are environmentally friendly.

Muslims in the Greater Toronto Area also launched a project called #Waste Free Ramadan to protect their environment in 2017.