Thanks to those who shared some thoughts on my last thread. There were a few people who were concerned that showing a picture of garbage would deter tourism to the Khumbu. Though that wasn’t my intent, it’s a valid concern! Nepal is home to some of the most extreme landscapes and some of the kindest people in the world. And even though tourism helps boost the economy, I think there are better (as in, better than the way I was doing it) ways to go about being a tourist in this area. The reason I share is because there were a few things I wish I knew before trekking in the Everest region. One of which was knowing about the current waste disposal system (or lack there of) in the mountains. I honestly think we would have had much less of an impact (on the environment and the local communities) if we had packed out our own garbage all the way to Kathmandu where there is a landfill. Landfills aren’t great, but it’s better than leaving waste up in the mountains for the locals to live with. That being said, there were also a few who were concerned that steering people away from buying candy and soda at teahouses is steering people away from spending their tourism dollars at some of these places. I would suggest that if you’re feeling thirsty on a trek, stop into a tea house for a pot of tea instead of purchasing a bottle of coke. There are ways to spend money without creating more waste that threatens the health of these communities/environments. I’ll admit, one of the things that had us feeling like lame tourists that were just taking from the landscape/locals is the fact that we were doing nothing useful there - and in some ways, having more of an impact than we felt good about. So lastly, I wanted to share the contact info of a local guide I met right before I left. @sthraj spends all of his spare time working on sanitation solutions in Nepal. He organizes cleanups along treks and also works to bring clean water to communities in need. If you already have
Pretty picture for Instagram vs. reality (swipe right). This is just some of the trash we picked up in a 2 kilometer (less than a mile) section of trail in the Sagarmatha region of the Himalayas. At first we were saddened by the lack of respect for the landscape and the people who live in these places, but then we realized that our efforts were somewhat pointless when we learned from a local that evening that the waste disposal system in the mountains of Nepal is a bit of a joke. What doesn’t end up strewn about the hillsides and floating down rivers is apparently burned. Which was unfortunate to hear considering how much plastic waste we saw. We were left wondering what kind of solutions might exist in places like this. I think it’s important for developing places to have the basic infrastructure and systems needed for functional and sustainable communities. Thoughts? Side note: There were a couple of people who commented on my last post saying that being bothered by pollution and garbage is a very first world problem (as in, it’s a luxury that we even get to be concerned about things like this). In some ways, that may be true. But I still don’t think that justifies ignoring a very obvious problem as waste like this isn’t just an eyesore, it’s a health concern for locals who live there.
Best seat in the whole canyon! A memory from a recent trip to Zion staying at @springhillsuites. Jeeping, canyoneering, local art shows, and daily sunset hikes made for one memorable visit. What a special place! PC: @mtn_michael