Do’s and Don’ts of Green trekking

As soon as you sign up for our treks, one of the preparatory emails that you receive is about how to trek without harming the environment. In this article, I explain why we insist on these do’s and don’ts of green trekking and how it makes a difference to the mountains we love.

Let’s start with the do’s

1. Carry your backpack. Do not offload it.

Carrying your backpack is part of the trekking experience. It is a testament to your physical and mental strength. It is very empowering.

We encourage this practice for two other reasons.  Firstly, although we have a weight limit of 9 kg for backpacks, I have personally witnessed trekkers coming with overweight bags. Porters and mules bear the brunt of this carelessness. When you make a conscious choice to carry your own backpack, you pack cautiously. Watch this video to see how to to pack effectively.

Secondly, every time you offload a backpack, we take in an additional porter/mule. With that comes the need for extra resources which results in excess waste generation.  Hence, I recommend to give it a serious thought before choosing to offload your backpack.

Carry your own backpack

2. Bring reusable items

This is pretty self-explanatory.  Many trekkers find it inconvenient to wash their own utensils. Some bring disposable items for the trek.

Although we insist on reusable water bottles, use-and-throw bottles are frequently used by many. Not only are they a health hazard, they tend to accumulate and usually don’t find an exit from the mountains. Plastic bottles, styrofoam plates are a common sight. They take hundreds of years to decompose and are a threat to any ecosystem, let alone the pristine mountains.

Reuse Green trekking-Indiahikes

3. Bring eco-friendly products

We often come to the mountains to detox  physically and mentally. With common toiletries like toothpaste, face wash, sunscreens, lip balms, etc., the dream of detox is a far cry.

Toiletries and cosmetics are often laden with harmful chemicals.  Oxybenzone in sunscreen has been attributed towards declining coral reefs by various studies and sodium laureth sulfate in toothpaste.

These are damaging to the body of the user as well as to the environment. So plan and pack eco-friendly alternatives.  To know more about these options, email [email protected].

eco products-green trekking-Indiahikes

4. Collect and segregate waste

Our core vision is to leave the mountains in a better state than we find them in. One way to do that is to clean the trail as we trek. The success of this mission depends largely on your participation. Thousands of trekkers like you, have helped us collect over 1500 sacks of garbage.

Cleaning is one thing; disposing the waste is a completely different ball game.  Much of the waste that we collect can be recycled.  Much of the waste we generate can be up-cycled.  But to facilitate this, we need to segregate waste. The easiest way of segregation is at the point of collection. Unsegregated garbage in landfills is as bad as transferring trash from one place to another. It is our moral obligation to segregate the waste we collect.

Segregate-green trekking-Indiahikes

5. Take your waste back

Finding places to properly dispose waste is a constant struggle for me. Even when we do, the state of landfills is a far cry from set environmental standards.

Dumping grounds of Manali is one such example. Situated on the Beas river, it is a safety hazard by itself.  One way to reduce the load on these landfills is by consciously taking back the waste we generate. This includes the packaged food wrappers, plastic bottles, etc.

We also ask women trekkers to put used sanitary napkins in zip locks and take them back to the cities. At high altitude with low temperatures, bacteria is hardly active which means the rate of decomposition is dismal. As long as you properly layer it with newspaper and place it inside a zip-lock bag, you will hardly experience bad odor.  There is no reason to consider it unhygienic.

Take waste back-green trekking-Indiahikes

Don’ts on a trek

1. Don’t get packaged food

One of the points discussed earlier was to take back your own waste. To minimize the waste carried back, we can simply control our consumption of packaged food.

I will not ask you to stop eating your favorite snacks. If necessary you may bring them in zip locks or reusable boxes. If you choose to buy from local shops, get them in a paper bag or reusable boxes. If everyone makes this choice, we can make a huge difference.

Avoid packaged food-green trekking-Indiahiks

2. Don’t consume carelessly

Dhabas on your trek are often laden with packaged food.  Trekkers are excited to find Maggi there. I won’t deny how comforting it is to have warm Maggi after a cold and hard climb. But it is precisely after such a strenuous day that you need to avoid Maggi.  Trekking is a demanding activity. Adequate nutrition is a must.  Made from refined flour, Maggi and other packaged food is anything but nutritious. To add to that it cause indigestion. At high altitudes, indigestion is a common ailment.  We don’t need to make it harder for our bodies that are struggling to acclimatize.

This is just one reason why I insist on buying cautiously. These days, the local cuisine is slowly disappearing from the menus of local dhabas.  Encouraging local food is a win-win: it’s good for the environment, supports local sustainable farming and you get to experience the local culture! A demand for local food provides direct income for a mountain farmer and encourages local farming. Not to forget the food is healthier compared to any packaged food.

Buy wisely-green trekking-Indiahikes

3. Don’t pollute water

This is pretty much common sense. The rivers and streams you cross are the source of drinking water for thousands. Those in the valley directly consume this water without filtering. So, peeing and washing in the stream is a big no-no. Ideally, washing areas and toilets are at least 50 m away from water sources. This is to avoid leachate from reaching the water sources.

Dont pollute water-green trekking-Indiahikes

4. Don’t waste

Use resources minimally. Trekking is all enjoying nature and surviving with minimal requirements. So adopt that idea and imbibe it. Even recyclable and organic waste is waste. So let’s avoid wasting.

dont waste-green trekking-Indiahikes
5. Don’t create noise

We don’t belong in the mountains. We are visitors. Animals and birds often shun away from the noises and change their behavioral patterns.  So let’s make it a point to not disturb our hosts and enjoy them in their natural setting. Loud noises are pollution and though we are used to it in the cities, creating a ruckus in the mountains is unacceptable.

no noise-green trekking-indiahikes

We owe it to the mountains to protect them. So let’s practice the do’s and don’ts of green trekkingand keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.

Share your green trails experiences with us at [email protected].  If you want to do more for the mountains, click here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



5 thoughts on “Do’s and Don’ts of Green trekking

  1. I like your article very much. I try to practice much of what you asked but I am dismayed to find
    some trekkers not caring for the forests. Power banks and wireless speakers are the curse. People bring enough power banks to light up an entire village and it enables them to play loud music during the trek. I had to request them repeatedly to use head phones and not to disturb the peace and quiet of the forest. We go to treks to avoid noise of the cities and again noise is what we are finding in the treks. Earlier when there were no power banks, people atleast used to keep the phones switched off to save battery life. Now with power banks, that worry is gone and one can play as much music as one wants.
    Evening get togethers in the camps are a matter of dancing around a blaring speaker. The quiet days of telling jokes, just singing songs etc are all gone. I really appreciate the trouble you people are taking at Indiahikes to educate trekkers about green trekking. Thank you

  2. Article is on point. But can you adjust the starting words in every para…to the following line so that it doesn’t cause any inconvenience to others who read it. Thank you

  3. The IMF has published a small booklets(infarct published decades back) titled-‘ Dos and Don’ts while trekking in Himalayas’.
    I intend to update it ,esp points to be added are the precautions during this corona virus,as these types of viruses attack us after every decade and now have become a perm feature.
    Any amendment suggestions?

    1. Dear sir, that’s a wonderful initiative. It would be best if we could communicate over email about this. We’ll get in touch with you about this over email.