“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” — Howard Zinn
This summer, live in the moment and connect with your family, yourself, and your Lord
With the frightening implications of global climate change confronting us, we cannot afford to ignore the effects of human activity, individual and collective, on our planet. We’ve all contributed to the worsening disaster that is global warming, and it’s time to rethink our behavior and take into consideration the environment in all that we do – even when planning our summer vacation. You don’t have to forsake taking a vacation to be a person of conscience and action. Psychologically and emotionally we require non-working periods to revitalize our productivity and creative spirit. Working hard without intermittent periods of rest and relaxation is counterproductive and our physical health, mental outlook, and family relationships all suffer as a result.
Summertime is a great chance to rejuvenate with a pleasurable and satisfying vacation. If you are motivated to make lifestyle choices that are eco-friendly, easy on the wallet, and revitalizing without requiring travel, accommodations, and itinerary planning, consider crafting the perfect vacation while staying close to home – a staycation.
Transform this summer into an opportunity to reduce your negative impact on environment
Transform this summer into a great opportunity to reduce your negative impact on the environment. Make it a fresh start and get motivated to make lifestyle changes that are more responsible, conscientious, and pleasing to Allah, all while having a great time. Here are some tips to start planning now for an awesome summer vacation that is also eco-friendly.
An Eco-friendly and Fun Staycation to Remember
Since climate change is fueled by greenhouse gas emissions, and, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “transportation produces almost 30 percent of all U.S. global warming emissions,” a stay-at-home vacation makes perfect sense. You don’t need to travel to faraway lands to make this summer amazing. Face it — we tend to explore places far away from home more than we do our own local area. This is natural to an extent. But if you think about it, you’ll discover that there is much you haven’t explored in your own locality. By staying local and driving shorter distances and/or avoiding air travel, you’ll reduce your family’s emissions of greenhouse gasses. Aviation contributes almost ten percent of the impact of human activity in producing climate change. You can look for nearby nature parks, playgrounds, museums, etc., and focus on quality experiences rather than distance. You’ll save money and time, without the exhaustion from days spent travelling that come with long distance vacations.
Disconnect to Connect
One of the reasons we like to “go away” on vacation is that it literally removes us from our daily routines and all the things that seem to weigh us down. This summer, allot yourself specific days and times to take care of necessary business. Aside from those scheduled times, put your devices away — turn off the TV, and put your phone on silent. Avoid distractions to make the most of your staycation. Worried that chores or drudgery might intercede and take away the fun? Try budgeting some of the money you are saving by not travelling to get some help with the housework, or by scheduling in the laundry and chores on specific days, and then stick to the schedule.
Camping with your family is a wonderful chance to enjoy a pioneering experience in nature
Unwind, tune in to the people around you, look into the eyes of your loved ones, listen to each other and be present. This is also the perfect time to become absorbed in your prayers, increase your khushua and read the Quran. Stop the hurry and harried habits of everyday living. Take moments to observe the world around you and reflect. We often undervalue downtime and occasions spent with the people in our lives. This summer, live in the moment and connect with your family, yourself, and your Lord.
Get Back to Nature
“The creation of the heavens and the earth is far greater than the creation of mankind, but most of mankind do not know it” (Quran 40:57). This verse beckons us to take note of the greatness of Allah’s creation, to open our eyes and see the beauty and order in nature all around us. How easy it is to live in our heads, constantly spinning the lesser narratives of our personal lives! Sure, that’s part of the human condition. But we should avoid getting too self-absorbed. The signs of Allah SWT are certainly in our own selves, but also in the expanse of the natural world. And far too many of us live lives cut off from nature. So be sure to schedule time in natural spaces to encourage appreciation of Allah’s creation and to cultivate greater realization of our role as stewards of the earth. You can plan an outing to a nearby nature preserve, take family walks through your neighborhood, or even explore your own backyard. Find out about local wildlife and look for insects and other creatures in your surroundings. Take some time to just slow down and be observers.
As adults we sometimes have to revive the natural curiosity we had as children. Take a closer look at the leaves on trees and bushes. Notice the way the colors of the flowers vary. Watch the squirrels and birds as they frolic from branch to branch. Stargaze. Breathe deeply, take note of the nourishing air and let yourself relax. Converse about how each part of nature has a role to play. Remember the following profound verse: “Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding” (Quran 3:190). So make a point to reflect and ponder over the signs of Allah, everywhere pointing to His lordship, majesty, and wisdom, and let it draw you closer to Him.
Choose an Alternative Method of Transportation
If you limited your travel to places you could go by only walking or riding a bike, how would that affect your life? This question will draw attention to the way technology and the use of energy enables us to live comfortably in our contemporary world. Unless you live in an urban area, you most likely need to use a car for necessities like groceries. Learn about how people around the world get their necessities. Some people have to walk miles just to get water. By realizing the importance of energy in getting from place to place, we can begin to appreciate what Allah has given us by way of transportation. This may also lead us to think about more responsible ways to travel. Maybe your family will want to consider investing in a more eco-friendly car like a hybrid or electric vehicle. Next time you do decide to go long distance, try taking a train, which produces significantly less emissions, and can be both fun and relaxing.
Camping is the original low-impact, eco-friendly vacation choice. It costs little to nothing and is an opportunity to discover a lot about yourself. In our modern era, many of us have grown accustomed to conveniences and even luxuries. Challenge yourself and find out how you react when you spend time “roughing it.” Camping with your family is a wonderful chance to enjoy a pioneering experience in nature, and to cooperate for basic survival needs – finding level ground, pitching a tent, collecting firewood, cooking over the fire or on a propane stove, and so on. This will inevitably increase your gratitude for all the ease Allah has given you in your normal daily living, and engender in you more compassion and empathy for the millions around the world who do not have the same conveniences you do. Read about and discuss the simplicity of the life of Prophet Muhammad and think about how you can change your lifestyle to better emulate his ways.
Make Conservation a Family Affair
Conservation may not sound like an integral part of a memorable vacation, but it’s a great time to institute changes and involve the whole family in the endeavor. Be sure, however, to have fun doing it. Include the following points in your conservation learning project:
Water: We know that Prophet Muhammad encouraged us to conserve water, even if we are making wudu beside a river, so try to be as modest as possible in the amount of water that you use. You can take an active role in protecting your community’s water sources by finding out where your water comes from and how free it is from contamination. According to the Environmental Illness Resource (ei-resource.org), municipal water supplies can have any number of common contaminants including chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, petrochemicals, dioxins, radioactive materials, and microorganisms. Find out information about the health risks posed by each. You can read about the many issues involving water and what you can do to help protect our water supplies. Get started here: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/riverslakes/placesweprotect/where-does-your-water-come-from.xml. You can also schedule a visit to your municipal water source.
Food: Industrialized food production is a significant contributor to the production of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Do your part to reduce this problem by changing your family habits. Purchase locally grown produce because it does not need to be transported over long distances. One of the most significant sources of industrial emissions is the meat industry. Prophet Muhammad did not consume meat as often as most people in the West do today. Try reducing your meat consumption and find out if there are any organic meat farmers nearby. Get the whole family involved in trying new, meatless recipes.
Grow together: Plan ahead and start growing some edible plants at home now so they’ll be ready to enjoy this summer. Watching your plants grow is exciting and even kids enjoy eating veggies they get to pick themselves. If you have extra, fresh produce makes great gifts for your neighbors.
Avoid processed, packaged foods: Packaging production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Although pre-packaged foods seem convenient especially while vacationing, preparing fresh and healthy snacks in reusable containers doesn’t take as much energy as you might think and does not produce packaging waste, which only ends up in landfills.
Brainstorm: Hold a brainstorming session on how to alter some of your daily habits and establish a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Make resolutions and keep them as a family.
Get Everyone Involved
Making decisions together gets everyone excited. Sit down as a family to discuss planning for your eco-friendly summer vacation. Do some research about climate change and global warming. Get the kids involved too. Listen to their input and pursue any interests that come out through discussion, such as how scientists measure the effects of climate change. And read books on the environment together. Let each person present a fact and brainstorm ideas for activities that have little negative impact on the environment. By getting everyone involved in the planning process, it’s more likely that the whole family will look forward to and enjoy your summer activities and buy in to the idea of making conscientious lifestyle changes.
Once you’ve brainstormed and narrowed down how you want to spend your eco-friendly summer, try writing down all the activities you want to enjoy. Place them on a calendar, and as each activity approaches, remind the family and do simple and fun creative things before and after the activity to stretch your vacation experience. For example, if your family is going to visit a butterfly wonderland, get some books from the library beforehand and learn the names of butterflies, their diet, population, behavior, and so on. After the visit, you could read as a family if and how climate change has affected butterflies worldwide.
Make it Memorable
Research suggests that many people actually enjoy the anticipation of a vacation more than the vacation itself. Planning and building up the excitement for whatever activities you choose to do will help make the most of your eco-friendly staycation. Be sure to document your adventures with lots of photos and recap your experiences together at the end of the day or over a meal. To further cement your memories, consider creating a photo album or scrap book or family journal. If you prefer to keep your memories online, try creating a family email address, then send your pictures, videos, and written reflections to it. Later you can open the emails and rehash all the great times you had and the eco-friendly choices you made.
An Eco-friendly Staycation is the Best Choice This Summer
When you think about planning a memorable and satisfying summer vacation, “eco-friendly” may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but there are many reasons it should be near the top of your list. Human-induced climate change is a global shift that portends devastating consequences and ramifications. If left unaddressed, the resulting severe weather events may lead to shortages in food, water, and fertile, hospitable land. The scarcity of resources will inevitably lead to violent conflict.
While it may seem to be a problem too large for any one of us to change on our own, if each of us begins to change our habits, together we can help reinstate the balance of nature and preserve the integrity of our planet. It’s about more than ensuring a healthy planet for our children and future generations. It’s also about our responsibility to our Maker and Sustainer, Allah. He is Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful, and has blessed humanity with a beautiful planet, functioning eco systems, clean air to breathe, regular seasons, oceans and forests teeming with life. Use this summer vacation as a fun time to unwind and relax. But also use it to refresh your intention to be a faithful steward of the earth.