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FYI – My post Where Are All the Green Toys At? Has been selected as “Hot Stuff of the Week” by GMNParents.com. If you have a chance please go ahead and read this post and then cast your vote.

The Ramadan Compact seems to have trickle into my every shopping experience.

I went to Target (my most favorite shopping venue) yesterday to buy a gift for my nephew and a few friends who have young children.

As I walked down the toy aisles looking at the selection I had second thoughts about purchasing anything. I looked at all that packaging for just one toy and could not stomach having it go into the landfill.

More importantly, and I have been having this on-again off-again conversation with my sister, what am I teaching the children around me. As an adult I have had to struggle with realizing that happiness and fulfillment do not come from things. I often wonder if I learned this lesson as a child and if I am, inadvertently, teaching the young children in my life this lesson?

Here’s another dilemma. I like giving gifts to kids. It’s just so much and fun and they get such joy out of it.

As I stood among the selection of toys contemplating what to do, a few choice thoughts crossed my mind.

1. I could go ahead and purchase toys. I mean who at the Ramadan Compact would know that I was living out of integrity with my core values.

2. I could not purchase anything and explain the environmental and socio-political impact of purchasing toys to the kiddies. I just have a feeling that would not work.

3. I could give each kid a little certificate that says “A donation was made on your behalf to plant trees” or “save the whales”. That would go over really well with a five year old, don’t you think? 

What is the middle of the road answer to wanting to be a responsible global environmental citizen and spoil a few kids with stuff they will play with for a few hours and then forget?I did buy a few toys.

Actually I bought kids craft kits packed in cloth bags with minimal packaging. As a bonus I will stuff the bags with candy. I figure the parents will really enjoy having their kids hyped up on sugar.

With the marvel of the internet I found a great activity. Having the kids hunt for treasure…Argh! I am creating a treasure map and inviting all the kiddies (about five very loud kids) over to my parents place to go treasure hunting. At the end of the treasure hunt they get their treasure (or craft kits).

Sure it’s not gold, or Sponge Bob, or Dora the Explorer paraphernalia. But isn’t the fun in searching for the treasure, sharing the fun, and getting doped up on sugar than the actual treasure. Something like…”it’s the journey not the destination that’s important”.

I’ll let you all know how it goes.

P.S. Some Companies that Make Ethical Eco-Friendly Toys (just found this in an internet search after I purchased the craft kits)

GreenToys.com

Peaceful Company.com

Think Button.com

Read Comments to this Post Here…

“Nature uses as little as possible of anything” – Johannes Kepler 

Received in an email from Sanjana at Ramadan Compact

A friend of mine called me up a few days ago to let me know she was going to be putting her dog to sleep. Her dog, Zeke, a white Whippet, had a cancerous growth that was now affecting his quality of life. I went to go see Zeke last night, he was not doing well and it was visible. He was weak, so weak that all he could do was flop on his side, and it was obvious that he was struggling for each breath. I sat with him, gently petting his head, said goodbye and let him know how much I enjoyed having him in my life.  

As a Muslim I was raised to look at dogs as filthy creatures. There are a few misinterpreted Hadith which allude to The Prophet as warning people about the potential spiritual and physical deficiency of dogs. However, I could never buy into this. It just did not make sense that God would create a creature as loving, gentle, loyal, and giving as a dog and then tell us to abstain from experiencing this grace in our lives.  

The companionship of a dog is uniquely different from any other creature. I don’t have a dog, but do get the chance to dog sit for a few friends. I am amazed at the almost instant connection I develop with this creatures. Yes, when I dog sit that means the dog comes to live with me, and no, I do not believe that angels leave my home when a dog enters.  

Just like humans each dog I have encountered has a unique personality. With Zeke I will remember his calm almost Zen like nature. How he would hide at the first sound of a thunder storm. How he would sit still enjoying the warmth of the sun.  

With Zeke I will also remember how I caught my breath the first time I saw him run, and when I would take him for a walk people would look at him, smile, and tell me how beautiful he was. And he was a definite beauty.  

Each animal I have encountered has reminded me of the more important lessons of living this life. Zeke reminded me of the beauty of creation. Beauty so striking and so mesmerizing that I am left in a state of awe. From the gentle lines of his form, to the gazelle-like grace of his stance and walk, to the softness of his disposition.  

Goodbye Zeke. Thank you for your company. Thank you for your warmth, grace, and affection. You will be missed.

 Coming in to work this morning I saw a car with a bumper sticker that read “Debt is Normal. Be Weird”. Ha! That made me laugh. I used to be one of those people in debt. I understand what it can be like to want stuff and unconsciously rack up a nice credit card balance.  

I went into debt because I wanted stuff, and I wanted stuff so I could feel good about myself and my life. Now I look back at myself and laugh. At the time when I had debt I was not laughing I was actually experiencing a lot of anxiety and stress. I was a walking paradox.  I was buying stuff so I could feel better about myself and my life. Yet the excess purchasing was causing me to feel bad about myself, my life, and my finances.  

As the bumper sticker implied (now) I would probably be considered weird. I have no debt, I buy stuff that I need (ok, sometimes I do fall off the wagon), and if I do not have the cash flow I refrain from buying (well, sometimes I do fall off the wagon). I do feel better about myself and my life since I do not have the stress and anxiety which happens with excess debt.  

As so many environmental messages imply when we make a decision to genuinely create health in our lives (financial health, economic health, physical health) the planet inadvertently benefits.

I would like to say that I got out of debt and stopped unnecessary purchasing to help the planet, but that would be a lie. My primary reason was to reduce financial stress. Inadvertently I helped the planet.  

Just to clarify I am not saying purchasing is a bad thing. I am saying that purchasing stuff that I do not need is not helpful. I believe purchasing is an action that can generate good and can benefit people and the planet.  

From a spiritual perspective the debt mucked up my relationship with God. I was so busying worrying about how to pay off my credit cards that contemplating my relationship with the natural world, with my pets, or with Allah was almost non-existent. Also I was completely absorbed in finding fulfillment through things. Intellectually I understood that things could not fulfill me but breaking the cycle (I will speak about this in another post) was hard.  

Finding fulfillment from listening to the wind move through the trees, or hearing a bird sing, or in silent meditation, or watching my cat go crazy for cat marijuana (cat nip), or having tea with a friend is a high that has no comparison. Best part…its all free!!!!

I never thought of myself as weird until I read the bumper sticker. I have to say life feels better in this weird place.

Read Comments to this post here.

Sanjana, at Ramadan Compact, recently was discussing how she might avoid flying by hiking a few hundred miles to her destination. Though I do like to hike I think my legs would be very mad at me if I prolonged a hike over a few hundred miles.

I get what she is talking about. A way to travel with limited or no plane travel. Carbon credits may help and I do participate in this when I have to get on a plane. But if you are like me you want to do a bit more just because you can.  

I know that there are some preliminary tests being done using bio-diesel as a fuel for plane, and Boeing has crafted a lightweight passenger aircraft (the Dreamliner) in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.  Until we have access to airplanes that run on alternative fuels what do those of us who use plane travel do? 

Well, one idea is to get on a bike and bike to your destination. This is what Dzhanar-Aliyev Magomed-Ali did. The 63 year old who is from Chechen biked his way from his village to Makkah, Saudi Arabia on an old but reliable bike. It took him 10 weeks but he made it for Hajj. Read about his story here. (By the way this story was submitted by Shumaisa).

As you noticed I have not posted here for about one week. I attempted a detox during Ramadan and it has not been going so well. Or maybe it has gone really well, depending on your take. The detox combined with the fast did flush out a lot of toxins in my system and also created flu like symptoms, and I was drained of a lot of energy.  I am now back to posting, but for the remainder of Ramadan will be posting at the Ramadan Compact, so stop by and see what is going on.  

Happy Fasting And Happy Detoxing