We swim, run and fly all around the planet Earth, making tracks and our presence felt everywhere, and never staying still. But in the process of leaving our footprints behind, we are also leaving our Earth high and dry with abundance of waste in the form of plastic pollution, polluting our mountains, rivers, oceans, forests and towns- which now has started coming back to us affecting our life. This Earth Day, let us dedicate ourselves to fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics.
The plastic crisis is a truly global one, and the numbers are staggering. A report released in 2015 suggests that between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic makes it into the ocean from land each year. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight.
Unfortunately, it is not just the ocean that has been piled up with mountains of plastics, it’s the Mountain itself suffering the same fate and hate. How much we boast about our love for mountains in social media using plethora of tags, but the fact is this is the ugly truth of the Himalayas. The heap of plastics can be found just kilometers from Barshaini to Kheerganga trek, Truind trail, Manali region etc. You side-step towards Tosh or Kalga, you will encounter a similar scenario. People are pouring in from every direction and 7 out of 10 people are fond of Maggie Noodles. People leave with happy memories of eating #MaggiinMountains and clicking selfies while what remains behind is an absolute mess.And this is not an isolated pocket either. The amount of plastic and other biodegradable waste in the foothills of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand is growing at an alarming rate and wreaking havoc with this fragile ecosystem. Trekkers and tourists have become litterbugs, who don’t think before tossing a juice can or wafer wrapper by the mountainside.
If you thought that the plastic bag you left on a mountain slope after a trekking expedition would have no impact on the mighty glaciers, think again. Senior scientist at G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Mohal in Kullu, JC Kuniyal told that “In 2005, non-biodegradable waste was 16.9% of total waste in Manali and 34.8% in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh. In and around the Valley of Flowers and the Pindari valley in Uttarakhand, such waste comprised 84.5 and 66.4% of the total generated waste. Thus, these results show that non-biodegradable is much higher in trekking and expedition locations than the down-slope hill spots.”
There are 249 glacial lakes in Himachal Pradesh and 11 have been identified as having potential risk of breaching, while in the Uttarakhand Himalayas there are 127 glacial lakes of varying sizes, that too are facing the similar threat. The numbers have only grown since.
It is time, on this Earth Day, let us stop sharing the photographs with Taglines like Mountain is Calling, And I Must Go or The Best View Comes After the Hardest Climb, rather take a pledge and start healing the mountains for once and forever. It is time you start picking up the trash one step at a time. Interested? Then join the Himalayan Drifters, who have tied up with Healing Himalayas Foundation to help clean the polluted trails of Himalayas and have already organized two clean drives since last year. Another clean up dive will be held on 28th April, 2018. Dare to join? The mountain waste mess can best be solved by “We the People”. While the Government takes its sweet time to formulate a strategy, it is Our Time to clean the Mess this Earth Day.
Remember, we aren’t charting a cosmic escape route (in a Hollywood style) and if we screw up our planet Earth. We are stuck with this planet for now and forever, so let us take care of it while we have the good fortune to be here.