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Plastic free Ramadan saves on tonnes of waste

A project to reduce single-use plastic at community events during Ramadan is set to save up to seven tonnes of waste, according to organisers.

Projects Against Plastic (PAP) has worked with representatives from mosques in Bristol to find sustainable ways to serve food and drink while breaking fast.

Charity founder Naseem Talukdar said: “Protecting the environment is an important aspect of Islam. I believe we all have a responsibility to look after our planet as best we can.

“With clear messaging, better awareness and some simple actions, we are able to tackle plastic pollution as a community.”

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. They break their fast directly after sunset and Mosques hold special services and meals.

Plastic dishware replaced

A typical mosque can use up to 3,000 water bottles and 2,000 plastic plates and cutlery sets.

A water fountain and a dishwasher were installed at a mosque as part of a pilot project back in 2019 – reducing waste by 70 per cent.

The mosques were involved as part of the Bristol Muslim Strategic Leadership Group (BMSLG), set up to develop and strengthen Muslim communities in Bristol.

Sheila El Dieb, Environmental Task Group Chair of BMSLG, said: ‘Working with partnership projects such as this allow Muslim Communities to contribute towards their environmental goals.”

Organisers held events to raise awareness, while installing dishwashers and reusable dishware at seven mosques taking part.

The team also looked at ways to provide access to drinking water and encourage visitors to bring their own bottles – reducing single-use plastic by 75 per cent.

Plastic Free Ramadan roll-out

The mosques which took part were: Easton Jamia Masjid; Green Bank Mosque, Hazrat Bilal Centre in St Pauls; Bristol Jamis Mosque in Totterdown; Tawfiq Masjid & Centre in Barton; Hill,Faizan-E-Madina and Jalalabad Centre, both in Fishponds.

The project, dubbed ‘Plastic Free Ramadan,’ is set to be rolled out across the UK.

Naseem, who has hosted Curry and Conversation sessions across the South West to look at environmental issues and practical solutions, held workshops at several mosques.

Naseem, who is also director for social responsibility and sustainability at UK Curry Connect campaign group, said: “We have marked Ramadan in a more sustainable way.”

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “If Bristol is to be a truly sustainable city, we must reduce the amount of plastic we use. Projects like this will make a valuable contribution to our goals.”

Ramadan and charity

The exact dates of Ramadan change every year because Islam uses a calendar based on the cycles of the Moon.

This year, it began on the evening of Saturday, April 2, and will end May 2 or 3, depending on the moon sighting.

Ramadan encourages Muslims to focus on their faith, empathise with suffering of the poor and develop self-discipline. It is a time when people help by offering food and money to those less fortunate.

Naseem, who has helped feed homeless people in Bristol and Somerset and has received a High Sheriff’s Award from the Lord-Lieutenant Bristol in recognition of his contribution to the city, said: “It’s important to help others who are less fortunate and show that we care.”

Eid marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated with a feast, gifts and donations to charity.

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Naseem Talukdar of Projects Against Plastic (PAP).

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Projects Against Plastic (PAP) was previously known as Plastic Pollution Awareness & Action Projects. It is a registered charity, founded by Naseem Talukdar. For more information, visit Twitter: Pap_Charity Instagram @ProjectsAgainstPlastic To get involved or learn more about the Plastic Free Ramadan campaign, please email [email protected] or [email protected] About Naseem. Naseem comes from a long line of cooks and restaurateurs. His grandfather managed food and logistics for the British Navy during World War II -until their ship was captured by Germans and they were held as prisoners of war. The shipmates were released three months later in May, 1945, following allied victory. His grandfather, Hassan Ali Talukdar, came from a small village in Bangladesh – which was then part of the province of Bengal in British India. He received British Citizenship in recognition of his work and worked in the UK for several years before returning home. Naseem’s father, Hazi Mohammed Siddik Ali, came to the UK in the early 1970s and opened his first restaurant in Bath, called Prince of India, in London Road. He later opened Rupali in Kingswood, Bristol, in 1981, which attracted famous people at the time as it was one of the first to use a clay oven tandoor. Naseem, who studied an IT degree at UWE and has worked as a software engineer, would often help out in the kitchen. His work in the food industry led him to help the homeless and set up PAP, to look at ways to reduce single-use plastic in the food industry. Naseem said: “My work in takeaways, restaurants and with the homeless has heightened my awareness of the huge amount of plastic used in the industry. I’ve been working with various specialists to find a long-term solution to this problem.” Naseem, who received a High Sheriff’s Award from the Lord-Lieutenant Bristol in recognition of his contribution to the city, has headed a number of projects to support homeless people and frontline workers during lockdown. He led the Food4NHS project, in which thousands of free hot meals were delivered to NHS staff.

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