Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, doesn’t have the best record when it comes to not destroying the planet. Firstly, they don’t have a unified waste management system. That’s a biggie because it has resulted in them becoming one of the top three contributors to ocean plastic. Not cool – if you go to Bali you will see that there is way more plastic than tourists scattered across the beaches.
Then there’s the whole palm oil thing. You know about that, right? It’s a globally traded agricultural commodity and it’s everywhere. Everywhere: In our food, cleaning products, grooming products, and pretty much everything else – in fact, half of all packaged supermarket products contain palm oil. Big business for a small number of multinational corporations but terrible news for our planet; millions of hectares of pristine rainforests are ritually reduced to wasteland in order to fund the trade.
Perhaps one of the saddest consequences of palm oil is that it has killed off much of the indigenous orangutan population. They have lost their homes due to the deforestation that the trade demands. Poor apes.
“We estimate that 148,500 orangutans disappeared from the island of Borneo [a territory which is apportioned unevenly between the countries of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia] between 1999 to 2015,” claims Maria Voigt, a scientist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research and lead author of a recent study into the effects of the palm oil trade on wildlife.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil. According to some studies, they produced a staggering 33.4 million tonnes of the stuff in 2015 alone. That’s bad, but do you know what’s even worse? They are planning to double their production of palm oil by the year 2030. Again: Not cool, guys.
Given all that, we were pleasantly surprised this week when we learned about Indonesia’s plans to unveil a scheme that will establish 1,000 ‘eco-mosques’ by the year 2020. Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia’s Vice President, claims that the mosques will source only renewable energy, reduce and recycle waste, provide educational workshops on environmental issues to worshippers, and manage their water and food supplies sustainably.
The project, which is mainly concerned with boosting awareness of environmental issues amongst the country’s population of 250 million, is the result of a collaboration between religious leaders in the country, the government’s health and planning ministries and researchers at universities.
Hening Parlan, coordinator for environment and disaster management at Aisyiyah (the women’s wing of Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah) believes that the concept of ‘eco-mosques’ stemmed from the idea that the country’s 800,000 mosques act as a centre for education within communities. Therefore, they should be leading the way when it comes to educating people on the dangers of selfishly destroying our planet.
“For many Indonesians, their understanding of the environment [usually] only happens when they see the impact of climate change, rather than through education … if they suffer from floods or landslides for example,” she says. The eco-mosque idea is hoping to change that.
It is understood that if these initial 1,000 eco-mosques are deemed successful the initiative may be rolled out to more mosques in the country. We’re big fans of this. Time now to maybe produce less palm oil, not chuck so much plastic into the sea and not endanger the orangutans. Yeah?
Featured image credit: Asian Development Bank via Flickr