About a week ago a group of dozen members came down from a month long garbage cleaning campaign on Mt. Everest. What these members brought with them was a surprise of 11 tons garbage along with bodies of deceased mountaineers to Namche. Although quickly skimming back to history, it was no real surprise that environmental waste done by trekkers at the peak was common. It was also common that tons and tons of waste were collected every year.
Quick fact: 2018's garbage collection weighed 35 tons! That is sadly astounding.
While the world's attention is towards the trekkers' mob and heartbreaking death due to the mountain traffic, it's equally important to know about long present pollution in the Everest region. Well it's harsh to point out at the Everest region only, because the problem is deeply rooted in highest mountainous regions of Nepal.
"When we were on our cleaning expedition, there was garbage everywhere where the trekkers camped. The tents were torn apart, the packages of foods and used clothes as well as cylinders were in abundance. We didn't know where to start.", said one of the expedition member in an interview with Nepali Times. It was later confirmed that there have merely been any clean ups since the avalanche took place in the 2015 earthquake.
All of the above facts and information says a lot about the dire situation at the Mt. Everest region. It is heartbreaking to mention that despite all its beauty, the world's highest peak site is slowly becoming highest garbage area. This reckless waste disposal is not only at the top but from the starting point of the trek. Previously, the trek towards Mt. Everest used to trigger enthusiasm on the inside and beauty on the outside for hardcore and genuine trekkers. Now, although the beauty hasn't gone on the entirety, however, the travel all the way up feels much like a walk through unmanaged picnic area.
The Nepal government along with different national and international public, private, and voluntary organizations has come forward taking initiatives to control the waste in Everest. They deserve a grand applause for being serious on humane cause.
The question, however, remains as to whether we always have to depend on these entities for a change or can we as responsible civilians make a change? It's not the hardest rule to believe that this problem started from individual level. Simply, if an individual takes packed resources up the mountainous regions and leaves or throws waste remnants there then the pollution is inevitable. Now imagine this same behavior is performed exponentially where a group does the same and so forth. The consequences of this instance are disastrous. Thus, the climate changes, the global warming, the avalanche and the hideous impact on mountain ecosystem.
There is a popular saying that change starts from an individual. As travelers and trekkers we should ask ourselves that if we can take belongings while going up then we are also responsible to bring them down. For example, if we eat biscuits, drink juices, take clothes and gas tanks then all the leftovers from them can be brought down. It is for sure there will be a space to accommodate these materials if it was possible the first time. If willing, we can even make space to collect waste done by others. Being mindful of the situation on an individual level is a small achievable ask. The locals have predicted that it will take 3 to 4 years of rigorous cleaning to bring all waste from top. Imagine if this situation is not controlled right now; we will need to release more fingers to count years.
This is not much of an ask to control the situation on an individual level. It is humanly possible to be conscious, to be courteous, and to love our nature. So from now on, if we take this into consideration taking a small step on being mindful in bringing back waste we take and waste we see in the mountains, then a healthy beauty will definitely return to Everest.