Introduction – Mr Raj Shrestha, Founder of Lets Clean Up Nepal.
Updated: Dec 19, 2021
This is a short story from Mr Raj Shrestha about how he started Let’s clean up Nepal.
I am a mountain guide in Nepal and this profession has given me the opportunity to travel around Nepal Himalayas and other parts of Nepal. Every time I went to different parts of Nepal I noticed so much rubbish everywhere! Villages, cities, rivers and mountains were full of garbage. I have traveled to many places since 2012 but at that stage I didn’t feel that I needed to act because I could see everyone else eating and throwing out the rubbish and wrappers, and I thought ‘Oh well, we all are the same and we all do the same so why should I be the one to do anything about this ?’ 🤔
But one day something happened to change all my feelings, and refocus my life. Previously when I went to the high mountains I saw too much rubbish, and locals were burning their plastic waste and throwing it into nature. Nepalese guides are unfortunately not motivated to clean. Also, some international tourists and even more local tourists don’t respect nature and all used to throw their rubbish in nature. After witnessing this I was so sad and felt like I wanted to do something to save the mountains.
One day I went on an Annapurna Sanctuary trek with a French guest (Christine) and she was walking slowly. During this slower pace I witnessed so much trash on the way up and I felt I should do something now for Nepal Himalayas, and try and engage guides and porters as well as tourists.
Initially I didn’t have any plans to clean during the whole 11 days in Annapurna. I just felt my heart telling me to do something. I don’t know where this inspiration to act came from all of a sudden.
I asked my guest ‘Excuse me, do you have any bags that I can collect trash in?’ She said yes but asked why ? So I told her I was going to clean the whole Annapurna region trekking trails and she thought I was crazy ? I replied that I wasn’t crazy, but insisted I wanted to clean all the trails and show off our clean mountains. She gave me two bags and I started to clean. Before long the bags were full of trash and there was no room for any more. It was disappointing that we couldn’t carry all the rubbish from the whole trail so we handed the rubbish over to local guest houses to manage and hoped they would send it to a recycling place.
We needed to carry big bags up and down the trails because there were no rubbish bins. But it was very hard to bend down every second wearing a backpack and carrying a rubbish bag, and pick up the rubbish. However I felt good even though it was hard work. I never felt as good as I did that particular day after cleaning and seeing how beautiful the mountain was. As we couldn’t carry the trash along the way from one camp to another camp, we gave it to the local guest houses. A few locals were happy to accept this rubbish, but most told us to dump it in nature.
They locals are used to this way of disposing of waste because they usually leave it in nature or burn it. At that moment I felt so bad but I needed to follow my own ways, so I kept cleaning the trails. Day by day other tourists, guides and locals appreciated and supported us for cleaning the trails, and I felt much better. We cleaned whole trails and spread the message “Leave only footprints on the mountains but bring back good memories” . We also carried down 2kg of trash down for recycling in Pokhara.
After this cleaning I continued to clean the mountains. We have cleaned mountain areas more than 20 times until now and have done many more clean up events with students and locals as well as international friends. These days all our tourists will follow our message “Leave only footprints on the mountains but bring back good memories”. We all follow #packinpackout and with this idea our initiative can reduce 70% of pollution on the mountains. Now many people are following our message and while they hike they also clean up. When I see this kind of initiative I feel proud to have created Lets Clean Up Nepal cleaning project s. At last many people are waking up now regarding the environment and I hope to see more young people become aware of this issue now.
We now have many different environmental projects to save Mother Earth, including providing education.
I hope you enjoy reading my story. Thank you.
Let’s Clean Up The Planet together 🤜🤛