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.

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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.”

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