The Jaffari Community Centre is a proud member of ClimateWise Business Network. The organization is currently participating in Faith & the Common Good’s energy benchmarking program.
The Jaffari Community Centre’s sustainability journey demonstrates how passionate people can impact the way a community acts on climate change. A few like-minded women were the forerunners of a sustainability movement that effectively shifted the way community members think and act. Their “Eco team”, which started five years ago with a grass roots approach to reducing waste is now a fully integrated eight-member Eco Board, working to improve the Centre’s overall sustainability method.
The journey started during the month of Ramadan in 2013. Seeing the amount of waste created by Styrofoam cups and single-use plastics, they realized with “an innate sense within their hearts of the wrongness” that the organization was creating too much waste during the events that were “designed to bring us closer to God”. They understood things needed to change. The initial process was to get rid of Styrofoam plates and replace them with reusable ones (which the group of ladies washed every night). The next steps consisted of collecting information, conducting research, and pitching ideas to the board of directors. It also helped that one of the Eco Team members joined the Board of Directors to provide a green perspective. With the Eco Team doing the heavy lifting, all they needed was an approval for funding from the board of directors. Slowly, the team replaced their Styrofoam cups, plates, and disposable utensils with more sustainable options.
After a few minor setbacks and adjustments, the Jaffari Community Centre can now serve over 3000 community members while generating less than four bags of garbage. It was not an easy journey! The initial uptake from the community was perceived negatively. Initially, community members were unhappy with the eco-stations requiring them to sort food waste, compostable cups, and washable dishware because of the long lines. To convince people of the importance of waste diversion, the Jaffari Community Centre created educational videos to demonstrate how the eco-stations functioned and their purpose. They included an Islamic perspective into the video to stress the value and significance. Gradually, more community members embraced the sustainable option and now it is expected from the mosque. The Eco Board is now looking to create similar sustainable options with the School, their satellite community centres and all the many weddings that take place within the centre.
After making great progress in reducing their waste, the Jaffari Community Centre is now setting their attention to reducing their energy use. The organization joined ClimateWise to benchmark their energy use and identify opportunities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. ClimateWise is working with the Jaffari Community Centre's Eco Board and facilities team to identify cost-effective ways to accomplish the task. The Jaffari Community Centre is an example of how environmental change can be implemented with the hard work of a few individuals.
Monika Bischof, Windfall Ecology Centre
Shelina Jessa, Jaffari Community Centre