Elk jaar lijkt er steeds meer afval te worden achtergelaten door pelgrims, wat is het effect op het milieu en wat wordt er aan gedaan?
An estimated 2.5 million pilgrims have descended on the city of Mecca for the Islamic Hajj, said to be the largest annual gathering of people in the world.
Every fit and able Muslim is obliged by their faith to make the journey at least once in their lifetime. But with the rising threat of climate change, there are now calls for both pilgrims and authorities in Mecca to reduce the environmental damage wrought by this yearly influx of travelers.
“Everyone arrives at the same time, at exactly the same place, and every year there are more and more people,” said Dr Husna Ahmed, principal author of “The Green Guide for Hajj,” a booklet promoting ecologically-sustainable practices among Hajj pilgrims, released earlier this week.
Ahmed, who is CEO of the UK-based Faith Regen Foundation, says that as many as 100 million plastic water bottles were dumped by pilgrims during Hajj last year, according to a study conducted by colleagues at the foundation. Ahmed adds that Mecca’s authorities have yet to make adequate provisions for recycling.
“All the waste from food, all the fumes from coaches traveling around the city, all the energy used for powering local hotels, it has a significant environmental impact,” said Ahmed. “And that’s before you think about the carbon footprint of all those flying in from halfway around the globe.”