Maggi wrappers, old muddy underwear, empty whiskey bottles, and those half used wet-wipes you really don’t want to touch. Chances are that if you’ve been on a trek with us, you’ve seen at least one of these ugly unwanted guests in the otherwise drop-dead gorgeous scenery of the Himalayas.
You all know the story: Trekking in the Himalayas is growing faster than Justin Bieber’s ego, and with it, so are the number of the UUGs (ugly unwanted guests). Without intervention, these iconic mountains will soon resemble the very same dirty city streets you try to escape when you come on a trek.
So that is where YOU, the conscientious trekker, comes in.
With the help of your trusted Eco Bag (and the consistent reminders from your Trek Leader!) you, cold, out of breath and sometimes barely able to feel your legs, make the extra effort to bend over on the trail and pick up the “half used wet-wipe you really don’t want to touch” because you know that if you don’t, no one else will.
Thanks to the incredible commitment of our trekkers and mountain locals, Indiahikes has been able to remove roughly 6,000 kg of trash from the Himalayas each year. SIX THOUSAND KGS. Let’s take a second to think about that.
As a green trails trekker, you can only see a fraction of the positive impact you’re having on the mountains by picking up UUGs – the trail becomes a bit cleaner – but, that is far from the whole story. As you pick up each plastic wrapper, you can’t see thousands of other trekkers before and after you doing the same, and you can’t see the 6,000 kg leaving the mountains all at once. You don’t see that each and every single piece of trash removed from the mountains is one piece of trash NOT damaging soil and preventing future vegetative growth; NOT leaching chemicals into water sources and causing diseases for locals downstream; and, NOT harming wildlife that accidentally consumes it. But, nonetheless, that is exactly what your efforts lead to. Never forget that!
So, at Indiahikes, we would like to give each and every one of you a deep and heartfelt THANK YOU. Whether you’ve been on one or twenty treks with us, and whether you’ve picked up one piece of trash or five hundred, because of YOU the Himalayas are a better and more ecologically balanced place. And that is something truly commendable. Thank you.
But, just like your trek leader pushing you to keep on going at 15,000+ ft when it’s snowing, your legs are beat, and you can’t help but daydream of a hot shower, we’re not going to let you stop here. You’ve done an amazing job so far, but you’re still only at basecamp, and you’ve got a long way to go before you reach the Green Trails Summit.
We are challenging you to take the Green Trails spirit back home with you.
Let’s think of the whole of India as a Himalayan trek. It’s got beauty, culture, and a whole lot more. But just like trekking, the Indian population is skyrocketing. Soon enough, India could be the most populated country in the entire world! And as the population increases, unfortunately India is also experiencing some UUGs, but this time, they’re not just limited to Maggi wrappers, dirty old underwear, whiskey bottles, and that damn persistent half used wet-wipe.
Litter is definitely a HUGE problem, but issues like climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and resource depletion are also wreaking havoc. Just like in the Himalayas, without intervention, India could be in some seriously deep doo-doo. So that’s where YOU, the conscientious Indian citizen, comes in. (Sound familiar?)
Unfortunately, as much as we’d love to, Indiahikes cannot equip you with an Eco Bag or with encouraging Trek Leaders, Guides and Sweepers for life! Out of the mountains, things aren’t quite as simple as “see trash, pick it up.”
At home, living an environmentally conscious life requires a little more effort, but don’t worry, we won’t leave you empty handed. We can’t offer you an Eco Bag for life, but we can equip you with an “Eco Toolkit.” So, without further ado, here are Ten Ways to Keep the Green Trails Spirit Alive at Home.
1. Buy Less Stuff
Avoid disposable paper and plastic products, buy a reusable water bottle for drinking and reusable cloth bags for shopping, buy products in bulk rather than in single-use packaging, and choose repairs over new purchases (e.g. clothes, shoes, electronics).
We live in a world with finite resources, and currently, we’re using those resources at a rate 1.6 times faster than they’re generated each year. That is not sustainable. The expression is “reduce, reuse, recycle,” with the first step being REDUCE. The more we reduce what we use, the less we have to extract, and the less impact we’ll have on the planet.
2. Segregate Your Waste
Set up bins for recyclables and non-recyclables in your home, and start composting, too!
Read here about how Indiahikes manages waste.
Reducing our waste is the first step, but making sure we properly dispose of the waste we do generate is an important second step. The more we recycle our resources, the less we have to extract, and the longer they’ll be able to sustain us.
3. Clean Up
Grab a few Eco Bag imposters (trash bags) and some good friends and spend a weekend afternoon cleaning up a local park, trek, or street in your area.
Litter is a problem all over India. Whether in the mountains, cities, or rural areas, it is harming soils, waterways, and wildlife, and it’s most definitely an eye sore. Check out The Ugly Indian movement to see the amazing things that some people are doing about urban trash in India.
4. Eat Green
Eat less meat, eat local, eat organic, and avoid plastic packaged snacks.
According to the UN, animal agriculture contributes 18% of all global carbon emissions, more than the entire transportation industry combined, and it also requires significantly more water than crop agriculture.
As for local food, the more local your food, the less it has to travel by planes, trucks or trains that spew smoke into the air.
And organic products reduce the level of harmful chemicals that enter your body and into soils and waterways. And plastics either end up as litter, wasting valuable space in a landfill, or as chemical-laden smoke after being burned in an incinerator.
5. Be Energy Conscious
Turn off lights when you are not in the room, and unplug electronics when they are not in use.
Climate change is causing a myriad of disastrous problems across the globe, one of which is the expected disappearance of many Himalayan glaciers by the year 2100. Can you imagine that?! Energy production is the number one global cause of climate change, so using energy resources responsibly can be the number one solution.
6. Be Water Wise
Turn off the tap when shaving or brushing your teeth, strive to take five minute showers or less, and never wash your clothes without a full load.
There are severe droughts happening across India and the world. Many experts believe that most wars in the future will be fought over water resources, and India is already experiencing internal and external conflicts based on water. Respect this resource!
7. Travel Smart
Use public transportation, walk, or cycle instead of driving, and if you have the choice between the train and plane, choose the train! If you’re going to buy a car, buy electric.
Fuel is a finite resource. Transportation emissions are also a top contributor to global carbon emissions. The more we can reduce fuel miles, the better off for our climate.
8. Get Educated, Get Active
Educate yourself and stay up to date on environmental issues and efforts to solve them. Join or start local environmental groups, and contact your elected officials and let them know your thoughts on environmental issues in your city, state, and India as a whole.
A lot of changes can be affected by the masses, but some things can only be controlled by the government. As a developing country that is highly focused on improving its economic status, it is crucial that India’s elected officials understand that environmental issues are important to their constituents as well! Here is a list of environmental groups in India you can get involved with. Make your voice heard!
9. Motivate Others
Encourage your friends, family and coworkers to dive into their Eco Toolkits too, and to live environmentally conscious lives.
The old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” The more people who make environmentally minded changes in their lives, the easier it will be to achieve results, and keep the planet happy! Also, it’s easier to stick to new eco-friendly habits if you have a community of supporters and like-minded people around you who are making the same changes.
10. Keep exploring nature
Whether trekking, cycling, kayaking, scuba diving, bird watching, fossil hunting, or anything else that might strike your fancy, keep exploring nature!
No matter what you are doing, motivation is critical. That’s what will keep you going. Consistently immersing yourself in nature’s beauty will serve as a reminder for what you are trying to protect by living an eco-conscious life.
What are your thoughts after reading this?
Having read this list, you might be feeling the same way you did at the beginning of your summit day when you were overwhelmed and looking up at that distant peak and thinking, “I have to climb up that?!”
Well, take a deep breath and a sip of water, and listen up: Just like you don’t climb the peak in a single step, you can’t become Captain Planet in a single go. Both require baby steps. Start out with one or two actions on this list that seem doable for you right now and commit to them. Maybe that means something as simple as taking the train on your next vacation, or ordering the veggie burger at McDonalds instead of meat. Whatever it is, make sure you stick to it. It’s much more effective to make a few small changes than to take on everything all at once, get overwhelmed, and fall back into old habits. I’m assuming you didn’t sign up for Everest Summit on your first trek, right? Baby steps.
How will just one person (you) make a difference?
Just like the Himalayas need you, so does India. Just as you can’t see the 6,000 kg of trash removed from the mountains each year when you take the time to individually fill up your Eco Bag, you won’t immediately see the full impact of using your Eco Toolkit at home.
You won’t see climate change end when you switch off the kitchen light, you won’t see water scarcity fade away when you limit your shower to five minutes, and you won’t see forests replenishing when you commit to stop using disposable paper plates. But, slowly and surely, as billions of people before and after you take the same actions, that is exactly what your efforts are leading towards. Never forget that.
Well, now all that is left to do is to stop talking and to start doing. Let’s lace up our boots, strap on our packs, grab our trekking poles, and make sure we have at least two liters of water with us because the time has come to leave base camp, and start on our long journey towards the Green Trails Summit!
And since we know our trekkers well, and how persistent, strong, and caring a bunch you are, we at Indiahikes would once again like to offer each and every one of you a deep and heartfelt THANK YOU. Whether you incorporate one or ten Eco Toolkit actions into your life, and whether you become a diehard environmental crusader or a casual eco-supporter, because of YOU, India will become a better and more ecologically balanced place. And that is something truly commendable.
If you have any other ways of keeping the Green Trails Spirit alive, share them in the comments below.