“What’s the big idea?” shouted a surprised Ali at the top of his voice. Hannah had just ruined his science project by spilling her drink on it! It was his last minute hurried effort as usual.
Earth Day recycling projects were due tomorrow at school. Hassan had come up with a way to recycle plastic bottles into a greenhouse for plants, and Omer had managed to make a working drill machine with plastic pipes. It was only Ali who had not come up with anything yet.
Just as Ali was about to snap at his sister again, Dadi came in looking for her glasses.
“Eee-ooo-eee-ooo!” Dadi let out a police siren. When she had everyone’s attention, she announced firmly: “Peace patrol is here!” She made all the children sit calmly around her and listened to everyone’s story patiently. “Keep your cool and stay calm” were her repeated words of soothing.
“Why does your school want everyone to make a recycled project when we can use new, colourful stuff?” Dadi asked innocently. It was little Hannah who was quick to answer. “Earth is sick and life on it is dying, because of the dirt and filth we throw away. If we do not recycle and reuse, we will not have a planet to live on,” she said sadly.
“Science projects are children’s ideas to find solutions for all the pollution, and it’s our way to help heal the world,” added Samrah Apa, entering the room and settling down a nearby chair.
Dadi whispered, circling her fingers around her mouth as if sharing a very important secret with the children: “Remember the movie “Wall-e” that we saw a few days ago? It showed the future of the Earth – if we keep on buying new stuff and throwing it away without recycling or reusing it, soon the Earth would be filled with trash! Clean water or air would be gone, and even the plants would not be able to grow. We might have to go to space to find another planet to live on!”
All this talk gave Ali courage to start over a new project. “Can you give me some ideas for my project, Dadi?” he asked with hope. Dadi looked around and saw that everyone was still sitting in a circle. “Let us all share our ideas,” she pointed to Samrah to go first.
“Hibakidz pouches are a very good idea. We could make pouches or bags that are biodegradable meaning when we throw them out, they turn into soil and don’t stay as trash for hundreds of years, like other plastic bags and boxes!” Dadi looked at Ali, who was in a deep thought of his own.
“Let us make a robot like Wall-e that can pick and pack trash!” jumped in Hannah. Ali was still in a world of his own.
“Dadi, why does Allah (swt) allow people to trash the place He has created with so much love?” Ali finally spoke up. “What a thoughtful reflection,” Dadi gave a deep smile and hugged Ali: “Allah (swt) has created us for a purpose. We are all answerable for our actions. Whoever strives to make this Earth a better place for others will be rewarded by Allah (swt). Some people have been very careless and absurd to the environment already. Now we have hot and harsh weather, floods, dying plants and animals, etc. Let us pray to Allah (swt) and spread the knowledge.”
“What about your project, young man?” Dadi asked lovingly. Ali thought for a while before replying: “I want to make a robot like “Wall-e” (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class), which can collect trash and reuse it to fix old broken machines.” “Yay!” shouted Hannah, “I will help! I will help!” She started to jump around the room with everyone smiling at her.
“And how do you plan to manage tomorrow’s deadline?” Dadi asked jokingly. “Why don’t we reuse empty milk and yoghurt cartons to make pots for planting seedlings? We can make a vegetable patch outside our kitchen and eat home grown fresh vegetables. We can always start working on a robot for the next year, Insha’Allah.” Dadi’s wisdom convinced Ali.
Samrah Apa said excitedly: “Planting trees earns us rewards from Allah (swt), as shared by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa).”
Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Whenever a Muslim plants trees or cultivates land and birds or a man or a beast eats out of them, it is a charity on his behalf.” (Muslim)