With Ramadan just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to think about our relationship with food. Dubai Carbon, an initiative established in 2011 by an agreement between the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been calling upon residents to minimize their food waste.

Ivano Ianelli, CEO of Dubai Carbon, said a surge in decomposing foods in landfill creates 25 times more harmful greenhouse gas emissions than carbon monoxide. “In the UAE, we produce 2.7kg per day per individual. That number goes up to 4.5kg during Ramadan,” Ianelli told Gulf News in a recent interview.

So what can you do to help?

Learn how to cook, and estimate portions correctly.

This might sound obvious, but it’s the reason food waste happens in the first place. Ramadan usually calls for extravagant feasts and delicious spreads of food – yet clearly, not all of this food is eaten. Estimating portions accurately can do a lot to reduce food waste, and it’s the first step you can take at home to help the environment out this holy month.

Plan meals ahead – or better yet, meal prep.

A large portion of the food waste generated during Ramadan comes from families eating out at Iftar buffets. Eating at home more often can help eliminate a large portion of this food waste. Additionally, preparing meal plans or even meals beforehand reduces the likelihood that you’ll make more than you can stomach.

Shopping lists are your best friend.

Ever gone into the grocery store for just some gum, and come out with thirty more items than you intended to buy? Us too! Shopping lists are practical no matter what time of the year it is, but they’re immensely more useful during Ramadan as they help you work with what’s already in your fridge, and make sure you don’t succumb to marketing tricks that make you buy more food.

Donate – or eat – your leftovers.

If you’ve cooked a big lunch, save the leftovers for dinner. This not only reduces the effort you put into cooking, but also allows you to enjoy a great meal again!

Leftovers can be managed in a way that further diminishes waste and sharing leftover food with family, friends, neighbours or the local mosque is also a tradition that helps diminish food waste. Additionally, The UAE Food Bank, an initiative of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was launched in January 2017. More than 100 Food Bank fridges will be set up in mosques, residential areas and public places, so make sure you don’t miss this opportunity to donate.

Adopt a plant-based diet and make sure you compost.

If you, inevitably, end up with leftovers you can’t donate, plant-based foods are much easier to compost than meat. This both reduces the amount of waste you produce and gives you some free fertilizer to use in your garden.