When trash and discarded waste require segregation and treatment, we immediately turn to spaces that allow for such processes to take place –– treatment plants, landfills, waste management organisations, etc. But what do you do when you’re in a place where none of this exists?
This is the issue faced by mountains across the world, including the Himalayan region. When the land conditions themselves are incapable of handling waste, the onus lies on the people that inhabit it or those who visit it to keep it as pristine as they found it.
The Big Mountain Cleanup by Nirmal ‘Nimsdai’ Purja’s foundation, the Nimsdai Foundation, is an effort toward making the Himalayan region cleaner and safer. Launched in 2021, the organisation set out to clear the eighth highest mountain in the world, Manaslu. This year, as several mountaineers will gear up to conquer the Himalayan peaks, Nirmal and his team will aim to clean up the Everest and Ama Dablam (and K2 in 2023), starting from South Col, which is infamously known as the highest junkyard in the world.
In conversation with Firstpost, Nirmal mentioned that the waste in the mountains includes ‘abandoned tents, oxygen canisters, food containers, discarded equipment and of course, human waste’. In general, none of is biodegradable and the conditions and the altitude make it challenging to eliminate the region of this waste.
“I believe we all have a responsibility to protect and restore these sacred mountains. Since I first started mountaineering, I have seen Himalayan glaciers become lakes and I believe we all have to do our bit to tackle climate change, so that future generations can experience the mountains as well.”— Nirmal Purja via Firstpost
The Big Mountain Cleanup is far more than a mission to rid the sacred hills of waste –– it is about a larger vision to provide the region with the respect it gives us and also the respect it deserves. You can tell when pollution is getting out of hand when it reaches uninhabitable areas and that includes these Himalayan peaks. Perhaps also a lesson in eco-conscious travelling, the Big Mountain Cleanup makes a large statement on the condition of the wonders of nature.
Find Nimsdai Foundation’s Big Mountain Cleanup here.
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