The month of Ramadan is when everyone looks forward to gaining more rewards and to becoming as generous to others as possible. Unfortunately, people neglect to observe another aspect of this blessed month.
Last Ramadan, when I walked to the neighbourhood mosque, I witnessed an aggravating scene of garbage bins overflowing with untouched food. This is when I decided to launch a food wastage awareness campaign, and began by uploading videos online, to highlight various issues.
According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), about one-third of all food produced worldwide gets wasted. This means that about one in four calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten. There are 795 million people in the world who are going hungry and suffering, as stated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
During Ramadan, as we wait eagerly for the sun to set, we think we can eat quite a lot after 14 hours of fasting. We fill our plates to the fullest, but are unable to eat everything we take. We either overeat, and if we can’t do so, we simply feed it to the garbage bins. We should change this habit and promise ourselves that we will not eat anything in excess. Additionally, try to offer more to the less fortunate, not only in terms of money. From the food we cook, we should first serve those who are in need and keep just the required amount of food for ourselves.
I started off by spreading awareness in school; we organised assemblies to address this issue. For the primary section, members of the eco-club dressed up as different food items and talked about how wastage impacts everyone. I designed many posters, which were put up around the school as a reminder for all. We also printed a banner, which was placed outside the canteens.
Threase Najarajan, head of the eco-club at my school, helped me organise the campaign. She said: “This is a major issue and there is a lot that can be done. As people start realising this, they should instantly tell their family and friends, and pass this message on.”
My mum has been guiding me throughout, and encouraging me to do different things, which can benefit the society. She said: “No matter what level of education you might be at, use it to serve the community. If everyone contributes a little, then we can make sure that no one goes to bed without having dinner.”
People think we can tackle the problem by giving away leftover food. As a community, we should all understand that this is not the only way to overcome this problem. In fact, we should start off by cooking and buying just the right amount that is sufficient for each person.
I believe this is a very important issue and it needs to be addressed. Such problems can only be tackled by awareness. I want many more people to know about this so they can implement simple measures, especially during Ramadan, which can reduce the amount of food waste being produced by each individual.
— The reader is a student at Cambridge High School, in Abu Dhabi.
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