The Himalayan Cleanup 2018

On 26th May 2018, more than 200 organizations from all 12 Mountain states of India participated in a mass campaign, to clean the Himalayas, where a chosen site was cleaned, audited by waste type and brand. This brand report was presented at the World Environment Day, to push for #beatplasticpollution movement.

SITE SELECTION

Our site chosen is Namnang viewpoint, Gangtok, Sikkim. It is perpetually visited by tourists and habitually frequented by the coolest youths and students of Gangtok, and not to mention the monkeys. The monkeys have so far acted well on their instincts. It’s the cooler crowd that we do not understand- why litter? What is the harm in cleaning their mess before you leave? We being a student-centric organization, chose this site due to the proximity of our volunteer's colleges as well auditing a site littered mostly by our fellow youth and students.


Being solution-centric, we attempted to clean up the litter caused by the lack of mindfulness of our fellow youths and create awareness amongst them of the harm caused to the environment and us. We hope to inculcate a sense of belonging and desire to be the change. The site is right next to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, and we hope that through our efforts, the youth can have some say in the policies being created for waste management in Sikkim.

OUR ZERO WASTE APPROACH

  1. Volunteers were encouraged to get water in their own steel bottles.
  2. Gloves, masks and tarpaulin sheet are reusable and hence purchased in spite of being made of latex and plastic.
  3. Bags were sourced from a local scrap dealer, and after sorting the waste, the bags were returned to him along with the segregated waste. This gave us revenue of Rs 96. Even if it was not a lot, it was a delight to watch the wonder in the volunteer’s eyes, seeing waste as a resource. This also helped avoid introducing more bags into the economy by reusing. The ultimate discards and non- sellable waste were deposited in the public bins provided by GMC.
  4. Datasheets were not printed. Instead, we recorded the data on unbleached recycled paper made from Tetra Pak. Unbleached ensures that minimum water is used in the process of making the paper, thereby leading to further the conservation of our environment’s resources.
  5. We also brought portable speakers and conducted the audit in the ambiance of local Nepali songs. This gave a personal touch to the event, in addition to giving the volunteers’ motivation to work in spite of the smelly nature of waste.
  6. Total time taken for the cleanup plus audit = 3 hours

OUTREACH CAMPAIGN

We used our Facebook page to create awareness and outreach for our event pre, during and post clean up. Link

Our event was covered by the young dynamic team from Surfonics. Surfonics is a social medial channel run by the youngest commentators which provide a platform to the youth of Sikkim to present their talents as well as get inspired by the famed youth of Sikkim. They conducted interviews with the people visiting at the time of the event and created a video for the same on their Facebook page.

The link of the video

In addition, we were covered in the 27th May 2018 edition of Summit Times :

INTERESTING FINDINGS

  • Cigarette butts (also plastic) are known to be the most littered item on earth and we were on the lookout for the same during the audit. We were surprised when we hardly found any, but our assumption got validated when we counted 64 cigarette packets littered across Namnang View Point.
  • Another surprising item was plastic lined paper cups, whose brands although unknown was 98 in number.