Make Eid Cards this year that you can plant

Plantable Eid Card

We’ve all tried, and many have succeeded, in making hand crafted Eid cards for our loved ones. Last year we saw how to wrap our Eid gifts in reused materials or better yet in reusable materials.

Here’s a neat … recipe for making this year’s Eid cards a bit more interesting. The folks at MakeAndTakes.com have put together an awesome walk through of the steps and ingredients needed to make a Blooming Greeting Card. Of course these are generic and can be made to congratulate whatever occasion you are calibrating. With Ramadan and Eid coming up, however, what better occasion to celebrate.

All you do is blend up some paper and water. Then you add your-or more appropriately your recipient’s-favorite flower seeds. Let the mush dry then mold into the shape of a flower. Paste onto a greeting card. Gift and repeat.

Now, I wouldn’t do this myself ( I like the idea of a flower, or tree :) but you could make the plantable  “mush” into a Masjid, a crescent, or whatever shape you feel represents your celebration. But ‘m not so sure you’ll get little mosques popping out of your garden, or cheese for that matter.

I need to point out a couple of things. Some people may choose to use fresh construction paper. Of course it will work, however a better approach would be to use some of your scrap pieces of arts and crafts, which you’ve been holding on to for a rainy day (haha it works ’cause we’re making mush).

Paper and Seed "Mush"

Paper and Seed "Mush"

Also, as you will see from the instructions, you may choose to blend some colours to change the hue of the paper you are using. I found that I could throw in a small bit scrap paper that is a colour I would normally never use for a flower and the dominate colour will dye the other paper the same colour. Otherwise you will have some interesting affects if say you include some solid black with a majority of light yellow paper. Hay, you may wish to make a monarch butterfly.

Finally be wary of using bleached “Bright White” paper and similarly treated paper. Some of the chemicals in the paper may (although not tested) affect the growth of your precious flowers. I would also skip the button in the center and maybe go for a cutout of orange peal to add some scent to your greeting gift.

In the end, and in small script as if from a publishing company, include the following message or one like it “I hope you enjoyed this card and that you may cherish it forever. To trully enjoy this card to it’s fullest potential please throw it out in the back yard or in your planters and add water and watch it bloom into a beautiful bed of petunias Of course you would replace petunias with whatever flower you had chosen to include into the recipe.

Enjoy and have a blessed Ramada and a joyful floral Eid.

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Go Green This Eid with Reusable Bags

Eid will be here in a few days, so we’ve been out getting our gift shopping done. We found all that we intended on getting well within budget and well in advance, which is a first. If you are also trying to keep the tradition of the prophet, peace be upon him, alive this Eid when he said: “Offer gifts to one-another, love will develop amongst you”, then read on.

This Eid we’ve been looking into something new and different. We are trying through our daily practices to, yet again, have an eco-friendly impact on our planet this Eid.

I’m not only talking about abandoning disposable cutlery, paper plates, or Styrofoam cups, which we ditched long ago, I’m talking about rethinking our gift ideas and gift wrapping.

One idea that my mother came up with, and that we successfully implemented last Eid, was giving Eid gifts in eco-friendly reusable bags. The kind of bags I spoke about in the last green feature of the Muslim Link.

They usually cost around the same price as, if not less than, regular paper gift bags that you get from dollar stores. They are much more durable, however, and will not tear when you place that extra large, extra heavy gift in them. I am talking about the eco-friendly grocery bags that almost every grocery store and department store, and shoe store, and mechanic, and dentist now offers for less than a dollar.

This was a brilliant idea at the time, especially for my mum, since she owns almost every eco-friendly bag that has ever been made. She was, after all, the inspiration of ” Paper or plastic? Choose fabric” from last August.

This idea has three general benefits. First, these bags are readily available at almost any shopping destination. Second, they are very durable and can be used multiple times. Finally and most importantly, it is an eco-friendly alternative to the paper bags that very quickly find their way to the landfill.

By using these reusable bags as gift bags you can reduce waste in the short term, introduce a good habit to your special gift recipient, and provide them with a durable bag to use in the future, further reducing paper, and plastic waste.

Naturally, many would exclaim at this point that there is no way they are going to use an ugly shopping bag for their Eid gifts. But that’s where they would be very wrong, and why I did a little bit or research.

I decided to look into some of the various bags out there that would make for beautiful Eid bags. It is surprising how many affordable reusable grocery bags out there could pass as very fashionable tote bags. Here are a few I came across:

So if you are in the market for some new gift wrapping ideas, and would like to keep a clean conscience during this blessed Eid, consider dropping by your local grocery store for a gift that will keep on giving.

Never Mind Recycled Paper, Here’s a Recycled Printer (at least part of it)


Here’s a step in a different direction. If you’re the type who likes to make a difference by using recycled paper for your printing jobs in order to offset a tiny portion of the deforestation you could take a little step further and help out with recycled printer parts. Now I’m not encouraging you to go out and buy a new printer if you already have a perfectly good one. That would be defeating the purpose. But if you are in the market for a printer because you need one, then you may consider this neat gadget.

HP’s Photosmart D5460 Inkjet Printer uses ink cartridges made from the recycled plastic of old ink cartridges. <click read more to see pictures and description.> Continue reading

Paper or Plastic? Choose Fabric.

Reusable BagYou may have noticed that almost every grocery or department store offers eco-friendly bags that are reusable and made of recycled materials such as post-consumer plastics or fabric. These bags can
be stylish and often cost less than a dollar. Eco-friendly bags are a good alternative to disposable plastic bags, which place a heavy burden on the natural environment.
Consider these facts about plastic bags:
• Each year, an estimated 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. This amounts to over one million per minute.
• Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags, mistaken for food. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean.
• Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. This means they don’t disintegrate into harmless components. Instead, they break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that contaminate soil and waterways and enter the food web when animals ingest them.
Using high quality reusable bags to take your groceries home can reduce the use of thousands of plastic bags per household. And if you choose to use eco-friendly bags, chances are you’ll also be making a
fashion statement. Reusable bags have become a fad in the current eco-chic era.
The question is, as Muslims, how committed are we to making a difference rather than just a fashion statement?
Many times we buy ecofriendly bags in our desire to be eco-conscious and live green but forget to bring the bags to the grocery store. We end up using plastic bags, or even worse, buy a new eco-friendly
bag each time we forget to bring the old one. It’s probably a good idea to have a few eco-bags to hold all our groceries, but when we buy them at the same rate as plastic bags, there’s a problem.
Here lies the flip side of using eco-friendly bags: they are only as useful as the number of times they replace plastic bags and reduce our waste.
But don’t fret too much if you forget your eco-bags at home — just remember to bring them with you next time you go shopping! And if you need to use plastic bags, you can take them to large grocery stores, such as Loeb (now metro) and Loblaws, where they have receptacles for recycling plastic grocery bags.
Our underlying motivation should be to lead moderate lives and try not to accumulate too much stuff or generate too much waste. This is one of Islam’s solutions to the environmental crisis. Buy what
you need and suffice yourself with that. There is an old Arabic proverb that states, “Contentedness is an everlasting treasure.”

Wireless Fridge: Refridgeration without Electricity


For hundreds of years a similar type of cooling has been employed by desert dwellers around the world. The concept is explained by a simple law of thermodynamics. When moisture comes in contact with dry air it evaporates. You see, water has this amazing characteristic of having a very high retention of heat (it is used in cooling nuclear reactors after all).

This ancient technology has been used for cooling water for hundreds of years. Mohammed Bah Abba took this idea one step further. By placing one pot inside another and filling the gap in between the two pots with moist sand he was able to create a refrigeration system that requires nothing more than a little bit of moisture.

The moist sand filling the gap between the two pots draws heat away from the inner pot and dissipates the heat through the evaporation of the moisture. The inner pot is filled with perishable foods that would normally last for mere days, but with this system can last for weeks.

Continue reading

The Coolest, Greenest 4D Building – in Dubai

Yes, I said 4D. Watch and Learn. Oh, and you can start reserving your suite now.

Greenhouse Gases from Your Broccoli – Buy Local – Support the Environment and the Community

Greenhouse Gases From Your Broccoli
“Buy Local”
Support the Environment and the Community
(Appearing in the Muslim Link newspaper – by Omar Mahfoudhi)

On average the fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and poultry we consume travel between 2,400 to 4,000 kilometers from the farm to your home. This long-haul transportation of our food is quite energy intensive considering the volumes being transported and the required refrigeration of perishable goods during transport. This is referred to as the food carbon footprint.

The concept of reducing our food’s carbon footprint is becoming a commendable endeavor that communities can collaborate on to reduce greenhouse gas emission from their daily practices. The carbon footprint of our food is the amount of carbon dioxide produced from processing, transporting, and storing the food we eat. Buying local is a simple concept, but in practice it may not be that attainable on an individual level. Soon you will understand why this needs to be a community endeavor.

Buying local means committing to buying produce and meats cultivated within 100 kilometers of your city. Not only does this reduce environmentally harmful emissions, but it also reduces the waste generated from packaging, the food remains fresh, and of course reduces the cost, which is passed on to the consumer.

So why don’t we just buy from our local farms? Well this is where it gets interesting. On a broad scale the evil of globalization has masked the true cost of the food we eat, and most large cities are ecologically dead since they no longer produce the goods needed to sustain themselves. On a more manageable scale, there are challenges that can be addressed with social awareness and community collaboration, which is the case here in Ottawa. As it happens, Ottawa has the largest local agro-economy of any major Canadian city. But there are some hindrances to committing to a dynamic market of locally produced meat and vegetables. Some salient hindrances are:

• Inconvenience/not consistently available
• Lack of awareness – where/how to access the food
• Lack of variety
• Lack of consumer support/demand
• Labour and financial constraints

There are already local organizations who are committed to promoting and facilitating the distribution and sale of locally grown produce. Community Shared Agriculture (CAS) is an approach to growing and purchasing food products in which the farmer and consumer are working cooperatively. Along with CAS is the Ottawa Buy Local Project, which also supports and advertises the wholesale component of the Ottawa Farmers’ market with businesses. Moreover, the Ottawa Buy Local Project delivers “Buy Local” presentations that highlights what is needed for a healthy food system in Ottawa.
A quick survey of some of our local halal grocers yielded that most of the halal grocers already provide locally raised meats and some provide locally grown produce. There was also a willingness of grocers to place signs that their foods are locally cultivated.

Here is where this endeavor becomes a communal effort. Encourage your local grocer to buy locally grown produce, and make a commitment to buy your fruits, vegetables and meats from them. This way the grocers can offset the cost and effort it takes to seek out locally grown produce with a committed market for this environmentally righteous source of food we would be buying anyway. This will also, create this demand that will motivate other halal grocers to enter the market of locally cultivated foods.

In this way we can support both environmentally righteous consumerism and our local Muslim businesses.

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