Uneaten food makes up half of waste in Dubai's landfills each day during Ramadan

Ramadan: 'Islam frowns on wasting God's blessings, there is no reason for this excess,' said Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of emirate's waste management department.

More than half of the waste going into the Dubai landfill during Ramadan is food. Christopher Pike / The National
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DUBAI // Uneaten food makes up more than half of all the waste that ends up in Dubai's landfills each day during Ramadan, according to municipality bosses.

"On regular days food makes up 33 to 38 per cent of domestic waste, during Ramadan it can go up to 55 per cent or more," said Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of the waste management department.

"It is ironic that such waste is happening at a time when people should be more in touch with their faith. Islam frowns on wasting God's blessings, there is no reason for this excess," said Saifaie.

Mr Saifaie urged people to only shop for a few days worth of food at a time, rather than buying enough for a month as most of it ends up going bad and being thrown out.

"It is healthier to buy fresh every day, you have your family's health in your hands, try to change your habits to improve your family's health."

Badria Al Mulla an Emirati housewife and mother of four, says much of the waste comes from people's habit of sending large amounts of food to family and friends who already have enough to begin with.

"We get sent 15 dishes from one house and it comes at Iftar time, so there is no time to redistribute it. This is a common practice during Ramadan and it is behind all the excess," explained the grandmother of one.

Awattif Al Sagaf, an Emirati mother of one who works as a banker, says grocery shopping is hectic during the holy month.

"There are way too many people at the supermarket, it is just total chaos. I don't understand why people have to buy everything, it is just one month and it is not like there is going to be a lack of food.

"I'm always trying my level best not to waste food. If there is any left over, I pack it and drive around Tecom handing it out to workers."

Ms Al Sagaf said that most husbands sent out on shopping errands tend to buy too much. "I find it's always the men with overloaded trollies at the cashier. Women are better at it, men don't know what to get so they get everything."

The department has also rescheduled garbage pickup times during Ramadan .

"All our pickups will be done at night and the morning hours before sunrise, since that is when most people will be taking out their trash during Ramadan. It also makes it a much easier task on our staff during summer," said Mr Saifaie.