This page highlights ways in which Tour Operators can organise and facilitate a greener and eco-friendlier Hajj and Umrah trips for their pilgrims.
Increasingly, Hajj and Umrah companies have a responsibility to provide all their pilgrims with a service that takes into consideration the environmental impact of their journeys.
Tour Operators organise pilgrimages for thousands of people, which makes their responsibility even greater than the individual pilgrim.
Water is the most valuable resource in the the world. Below are ways in which Tour Operators can encourage pilgrims to conserve water.
1. Finish your Water
Encourage your pilgrims to finish all the water when drinking from plastic bottles.
Many people drink only some of the water and throw the rest in the bin. This should be avoided, if possible.
The role of the Tour Operator should be to remind pilgrims throughout the trip, especially during the days of Hajj in Mina.
2. Re-usable Bottles
Tour Operators should consider providing their pilgrims with re-usable water bottles.
Re-filling a re-usable bottle, made from metal or glass, can substantially reduce the need for plastic bottles.
Re-usable bottles could be provided as part of the Tour Operator's Goody Bag.
Tour Operators should encourage their pilgrims to practice performing wudhu from a bottle, as this can help to conserve water.
Tutorials on how to perform wudhu from a bottle can be given before Hajj. This skill will be particularly useful in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah to avoid queues.
Zam-Zam is available in Makkah and Madinah. Pilgrims should be encouraged to refill their bottle every time they go to the masjid.
This will also reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles and the plastic disposable cups used in the masjid.
5. Water Coolers
Water Coolers or Dispensers can be placed in the pilgrims tents in Mina. The vast majority of plastic waste occurs in Mina during the days of Hajj from one-time use bottles of water.
By having dispensers, pilgrims can be encouraged to re-fill their re-usable bottles. This would also prevent unused water being wasted.
The Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prohibit wasting food. There are a number of ways in which Tour Operators can encourage pilgrims to reduce food waste.
6. Finishing Food
At meal times, pilgrims should be encouraged to finish their portion of food. Especially in Mina, where the portion sizes can be very big.
Leaving food which is half-eaten and unlikely to be consumed by anyone else, should be avoided.
7. Sharing is Caring
Many times, especially during the days of Hajj in Mina and Arafat, one portion of food can be large enough to share between 2-3 people.
Pilgrims should be encouraged to divide up their maels and share with the people around them to prevent waste.
Tour Operators should provide extra plates and spoons for this.
8. Buffet Control
At times, hotels provide buffet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Tour Operators should remind their groups that over-filling their plates with food and then not finishing, causes a lot of waste.
Pilgrims should also be warned not to overeat due to gluttony being strictly prohibited in Islam.
Whilst staying in the hotels during Hajj, there are ways in which pilgrims can reduce their environmental impact, in addition to not wasting water and food.
Tour Operators should consider providing a small printed card, to be given to every pilgrim or to be placed in their hotel rooms, listing the points of advice below. This card can be downloaded as part of the EcoHajj Guide for Tour Operators.
9. Save Electricity
Tour operators should encourage their pilgrims to conserve energy by putting putting off their hotel room lights, and any other electrical devices, when they leave the room.
Saving electricity goes towards saving energy.
10. Re-use your Towels
By hanging your towels and re-using them, pilgrims can help to reduce the amount of energy hotels use to wash and dry the towels and linen.
Tour Operators can suggest this to their pilgrims regardless of whether the hotel has a sustainability drive.
11. Water Waste
Tour operators can remind pilgrims that showering less frequently and for shorter periods of time can help drastically reduce waster wastage in hotels.
The Prophet (pbuh) used to perform ghusl, or have a bath, with less than 2ltrs of water!
12. Walking Groups
Tour Operators could organise walking groups for those pilgrims who are fit and able, on certain parts of the Hajj.
By walking between the Hajj sites, your group will be reducing their carbon footprint in terms of vehicle pollution.
Tour Operators should choose routes that are easier to walk, and avoid any extreme hardship for their pilgrims.
13. Avoid Littering
As a responsible Tour Operator, advice should be given to your group to avoid adding to the problem of litter and make sure that they discard their rubbish properly.
One of the most apparent sights during Hajj and Umrah is the vast amount of litter. From food waste to plastic bottles, from used nappies to cut hair, litter is everywhere!
Especially during the Hajj days in Mina, Tour Operators should provide bins for rubbish and remind their group members to use them. Encouraging them to keep their area in the tent clean.