We are back with our friend, Raj Shrestha. Raj is a busy man! Today we are going to focus on his Save the Mountains Project. Cleaning trash off the mountains is part of Raj’s passion. You may remember him as one of the experts in our Who Takes the Trash Out? show. These kinds of projects raise awareness for visitors and the people of Nepal. Here is our interview with Raj.
Musa: Tell us about your new initiative.
Raj: Namaste to all from Nepal. I’m Raj Shrestha, an eco mountain guide and founder of Let’s Clean Up Nepal. We have been cleaning mountains, rivers, and villages and providing environmental education since 2017. Let’s Clean Up Nepal has been implementing the Save the Mountains project to minimise mountain waste and recycling. The mountains are deteriorating, glaciers are melting rapidly, there are more landslides that destroy villages because of warming temperatures.
Nepal is also facing other environmental issues, such as wild & domestic animals and birds eating plastic daily. We have witnessed yaks and mountain goats eating plastic and ashes from burnt plastic. Yak life will be no more in the coming days due to the bad habits of humans. Our initiative is specially designed and dedicated to all travelers who want to trek and climb mountains. We want to showcase our mountains as they once were to the world, pristine with no trash, leaving only travelers footprints.
Musa: How does it work?
Raj: Two recycling hubs are available in Kathmandu to receive collected garbage. Travellers are encouraged to pack out whatever they packed in for their trips. Travellers who want to commit to the Save the Mountains Project and support the Let’s Clean Up Nepal initiative can join by purchasing our eco tote bag. There is a $15 cotton bag or a $20 hemp bag. Bring your trash and what you pick up back to the collection points in Thamel at Alpine Equipment Hub, (977-985-1174213), or Hemp Headquarters, (977986-0799249).
The bag contents will be 99% recycled or repurposed with Doko Recyclers. We will plant one tree for every bag sold, and some of the proceeds will also help with the operation of the organization. If each person leaves nothing and cleans up one kg of trash to reduce mountain pollution, this would be a great start.
If the traveller wants to join the campaign and share their story on social media, what they like about this initiative, and how their action can make a difference, doing this would be greatly appreciated. Take a photo, share their story with Let’s Clean Up Nepal, and we will post it here, @letscleanupnepal.
Musa: What inspired the idea to do this?
Raj: I am a guide and able to travel to more or less all the beautiful parts of Nepal. Constantly cleaning up as I go. Since 2017, my big dream is to show the world how clean and beautiful my home country is. Nepal welcomes millions of tourists every year. When I guide my guests to the mountains, we clean up together and carry out large bags of trash for recycling in the city. I always do this kind of cleanup when I hike with my guests.
The project is going well for the moment. We just started this campaign in 2017 but could not print any eco bags to promote the campaign. Finally, we can print some eco bags and provide them for environment lovers. Last autumn we joined 33 green travelers, and we will plant 33 trees from the save the mountains project. Himalayan Green Trips Treks and Expedition team have helped us to carry trash down for recycling. We will plant 128 trees with the help of Himalayan Green Trips in the coming rainy season in the Sindhupalchowk district.
Musa: Do you have other organizations helping with this?
Raj: We are in the process of working with the local government and the Nepal Tourism Board. We would like to work with guides who are the real heroes of the mountains. Each guide and trekking company that joins our movement means cleaner mountains and more trees planted! It can make a huge difference. So we are looking forward to joining hands with trekking companies and guides.
A humble request to all travelers:
- Packing out what you pack in
- Pick up litter on the trails on your trek back
- Purchase a “Take me with you bag” #takemewithyou
- Use reusable, repurposing, and recycled products
- Use a water filter and purifier, or boil water
- Use biodegradable products
Musa: Thanks, Raj, for all your work you are doing in Nepal, and educating travelers who can bring that ethic back to their countries after visiting. Jam Jam!!