Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sustainable paper at a local mosque

BFTF has talked to a number of Muslim Imams and scholars over the years about the teachings of Islam regarding the environment. Without exception they have told BFTF that Muslims have a duty as God's viceregents on earth to safeguard the environment.

Unfortunately, in many cases Muslim institutions don't practice what they preach in this regard. In particular, only a relatively few institutions use sustainably sourced paper for their printing and photcopying.

BFTF has been trying to get one local mosque (that uses a lot of paper in photocopying and for leaflets) to switch to sustainably sourced paper (i.e. FSC certified or recycled) for some time. Here is the story so far:

Jun2006 : Originally send Emails detailing reasons why the mosque should switch to a sustainable source for their printer paper.

Jul2006-Feb2007 : Provided the mosque with sources and prices for sustainably sourced paper, also discussed with mosque manager on a number of occasions

Mar2007 : Understood that the mosque would now only buy paper from a sustainable source.

Apr2007: Suggested that leaflets etc should have a little logo that showed they were made from sutainable sources (and provided a draft logo) so that the community could see that taking care on this issue was part of being a Muslim. Was told that this would be done.

Mar2008 : Noticed that sustainably sourced paper had not been used for some time. Was told that it was difficult to ensure that everyone bought the right kind of paper. Discussed with mosque staff and was told that BFTF should draft up an Environmental Policy. BFTF drafted up a policy and supplied it to the mosque.

Apr2008 : Was told that there was an "Executive Committee Meeting" at which the Environmental Policy could be raised.

Jun2008 : Asked whether the Environmental Polciy had been raised at any recent Executive Committ Meetings. No response

Oct2008 : Was told that the Envoronmental Policy had not been raised at any of the recent Executive Committee Meetings and could BFTF resend the Environmental Polciy as that the mosque no longer had a copy of it - so BFTF did.

Jan2009 : Discussed with the staff and was told that what I should do was to set up a meeting with all the relavant people and explain everything to them. (BFTF did rather give up at this point for a while, feeling that it was just one hurdle after another)

Mar(?)2010 : Chased the issue up again and was told that staff did not know how to find sustainably sourced paper in the Viking catalogue so went it, opened up the catalogue and showed them. Was assured that only sustainably sourced paper would be ordered from now on.

Oct(?)2010 : Saw that sustainably sourced paper was not being used and asked why. Was told that the next order would be sustainably sourced (and it was)

Mar(?) 2011 : Saw that sustainably sourced paper was not being used and asked why. Was told that the next order would be sustainably sourced (and it was)

Oct(?) 2011: Saw that sustainably sourced paper was not being used and asked why. Was told that the next order would be sustainably sourced (and it was)

Feb 2012 : Discussed with anothe staff member and resubmitted all the material and background information that had been supplied previously. This staff member did some digging and told me that the problem was that there was no training and that the job of ordering the paper was done by the newest member of staff/student etc who inevitable did not know that they should be buying the sustainably sourced stuff. The Staff member said that he would put a training program in place (covering a lot more issues than just this one) that specified exactly what paper should be bought. ETA for implementation of this was about six weeks.

May2012 : BFTF happened to be in the office at the mosque and noticed that they were STILL using unsustainably sourced paper (ironically, the reverse of the packet showed that the manufacturer does sell a recycled grade of paper). It is possible, BFTF supposes, that this was still old stock and that the training had indeed been implemented, although this was not the impression that BFTF got from talking to the staff there. Later, BFTF discussed this with the staff member who had done all the training. He assured BFTF that the staff had indeed been trained and that they should be ordering sustainably sourced paper. BFTF asked what it should do now? Should it lodge a formal complaint? The staff member told BFTF to complain to them, which BFTF has done via email.

Aug2012 : BFTF again happened to be in the office at this local mosque and noticed that paper was not recycled or FSC certified. Was told that this was old stock from elsewhere in the organisation.

Aug2012 : This time the paper was 50% recycled. Asked why it wasn't 100% as agreed and was told that perhaps the person ordering hadn't picked up on the "50%" bit.

Sep2012 : Paper by photocopier not FSC certified or recycled. Person in the office had no idea where it had come from. Sent email to some staff members asking what I should do now?

Sep2012 : Person who organised the training was disappointed that the office was not using sustainably sourced paper and suggested that I take it up with one of the trustees. So BFTF did.

Oct2012 : Trustee, who is very supportive of green issues and has promoted them strongly elesewhere, said they would discuss with office staff.

Oct2012 : Reveived an email from the masjid saying the they did have an environmental policy (which they attached), they did use recycled paper and that they had also recently installed energy efficient heating and lighting.

Dec(?)2012 : Noted that the masjid was not using sustainable paper and was told that the paper had been donated.

Mar(?)2013 : Ask one of the staff members whether the several hundred (perhaps thousand) leaflets he had just printed were printed on sustainable paper. The response suggested that the staff member had absolutely no idea that paper came from forests and that there was such a thing as sustainably sourced paper.

Jun2013 : Noted that the Masjid was again using unsustainably sourced paper so told them that, with every other approach having failed, BFTF would be submitting a formal complaint...but didn't really want to complain so left the issue.

Dec2016 : Having noticed a couple of times that the paper being used was still not sustainably sourced chased up via email.

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