Raj Shrestha is a man on a passionate mission to clean up Nepal. In a short time, he has begun to transform the trekking routes in the Himalaya and the famous places in Kathmandu. He does it on his own power and enlists like minded activists and experts to help. Amazingly, that is not his only project! We asked him to tell us about his remarkable accomplishments that started in 2017. We are so impressed and want to share his plan with everyone.
The same passion that Raj puts out really rings true with the Musa Masala crowd. We remember our inspiration, Wongchhu Sherpa, who started the earliest cleanup programs on Mt. Everest, bringing down tons of trash and organizing a summit at Gorak Shep of Nepali government officials to talk about environmental changes in Nepal. Wongchhu was instrumental in bringing the first trash bins to Sagarmatha National Park. We see Raj carrying on the mission to “just do it” and start a culture of Leave No Trace in Nepal. Thank you, Raj. In future posts, we’ll talk about Raj’s work in supplying reusable sanitary pads and dental hygiene classes.
Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Raj and I am a mountain guide in Nepal. My profession gives me the opportunity to talk to people about the importance of cleaning our mountains for a better environment in Nepal. With the support of volunteers, I created a website and a Facebook and Instagram account “Let’s clean up Nepal” to spread the message to Nepalese and tourists
“Let’s Clean Up Nepal” started by accident over two years ago. I was trekking to Annapurna Base Camp with an older French woman who was fairly slow. I had more time to look around and noticed a lot of garbage on the path: bottles, cans, wrappers and lots of plastics. It really broke my heart, so I started picking up the trash. I used to go to the mountains often, but this time I had different feelings for nature and the environment. I changed myself first to change other people’s mentalities.
I was also shocked to see that there were no bins on the path, so we had to carry the garbage to the guest houses. And there, I realized there were no recycling possibilities. This is how it all started! I talked to other guides, porters and tourists as well as people in the guest houses and the word spread quickly. Some joined to help, some were more skeptical. But you have to be positive: Every little step counts!
How do you involve other people in your cleanups?
We have been organizing green trips all around Nepal to spread awareness about cleaning up the mountains, rivers, cities and villages. We have been teaching at schools about cleaning up then recycling. We are organizing green trips with zero waste with “Leave No Trace” and “Pack in Pack out “ slogans which are very good to reduce pollution in the mountains. If everyone does little steps today, then tomorrow we can see a big change in pollution. We wish to do cleanup awareness campaigns in the future and bring all garbage from the mountains to the cities for recycling and reuse.
Tell us about the history of the organization and some of your accomplishments.
We started our cleaning campaigns in 2017. Since then, we have had 22 cleanup events in different parts of Nepal: Everest Base Camp, Gokyo valley in Everest region, Annapurna basecamp, Tilicho lake, Langtang valley, Gosaikunda, Upper mustang, Lower mustang, Mardi Himal, World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara as well as various areas of Kathmandu and river clean ups. In addition to cleaning up events, we have also planted trees in Bagmati river and gone to schools with various environmental awareness programs.
What are the goals of Let’s Clean Up Nepal? Is this a long-term project?
The goal of “Let’s Clean Up Nepal” is to change mentalities about how to dispose of garbage. Volunteers have been picking up garbage in various parts of the country and also given lectures in schools all over Nepal to make people aware of the benefits of a clean country. We work with anybody who wants to join us and are looking into various practices of recycling which is still in its infant stages in Nepal. We will remain active as long as necessary. We are working on some projects in the high mountains for recycling our waste as well, but need more hands to make this happen.
Are you working on anything else at this time?
Yes I am working on a number of other projects in remote villages and in the mountains:
– Health awareness: explaining basic hygiene habits such as washing hands, mainly in schools
– Dental hygiene also mainly in schools and distribution of tooth brushes and toothpaste
– Safe drinking: awareness about importance of clean water as well as installation of water filters
– Feminine hygiene and distribution of reusable sanitary pads
We are working on what we call One Village Project. We are supporting 14 needy children under our project in Sindhupalchowk. We are helping our children with whatever they need like a educational fees, food, financial support, dresses, stationary, etc.
How can someone help or get involved? What is your contact information?
The more volunteers, the better! We also welcome any suggestions you may have.
Let’s act now for a better Nepal. Together we can climb more high and reach more far.
I would like to say to all, please do not mess your own area up with your garbage. Clean up wherever you are and be part of the smart Nepal. If you really like our work, please join us. Together we can make a huge difference. We can do something together for the next generation to bring a more happy and healthy life. It’s time to act now, not thinking like we will do it tomorrow. If you think change is possible, then start with yourself. Let’s clean up Nepal together!!!