Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

Mount Everest has earned the nickname, the "world's highest garbage dump."

Litter On Mount Everest: The World’s Highest Garbage Dump

The iconic Mount Everest, known for its majestic views and unfathomable heights is in trouble. The trouble comes from the very people that set out to embrace it’s challenging beauty which has left many up in arms. It saddens us to have to report that Mount Everest has earned the nickname, the “world’s highest garbage dump.”  Decades of litter on Mount Everest have piled up, creating an eyesore and environmental issues that Nepal is trying desperately to curb and repair.

Litter On Mount Everest is Difficult to Understand

Upsetting: Litter on Mount EverestLitter on Mount Everest comes in many different forms, some may even surprise you.  From broken tents and spent oxygen tanks to human waste and even corpses of those who never made it back to base camp – it is a mess on top of the world. With the traffic increasing from international travelers and inexperienced climbers led by tourist companies, the authorities in Nepal must take action now to save our treasured peak.

To curb the litter on Mount Everest, the Nepalese government has stepped in and mandated that all climbers must descend with at least 18 pounds of trash.  This is what the average climber would take up with them during the trek to the top. “We are not asking climbers to search and pick up trash left by someone else,” said Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti, head of the mountaineering department at the Tourism Ministry. “We just want them to bring back what they took up.”  There are fines in place for those that don’t pay attention to this mandate, though locals admit that collection and enforcement is sparse.

The local Sherpa’s that make a living supporting the climbers have recently mounted expeditions of their own.  They have trekked to the “dead zone” where the oxygen levels are quite low and collected over 4,000 pounds of trash.  Cash rewards were also put into place for local guides for every oxygen tank they bring down during the decent.  This incentive has helped bring the larger trash under a bit more control.

A Disappointment For Humanity

It is unfortunate that the world’s highest peak isn’t even safe from societies wasteful ways.  The litter on Mount Everest is just another sign that we have yet made it to a level of maturity where we can take responsibility for our actions.  While it is hard to expect that our readers can make the climb to help reduce litter on the peak, though you can do something in your local environment.  Don’t step over the litter, recycle it if you can, otherwise place it in a garbage bin.  Also, consider your impact – that simple thought can reduce millions of pounds of trash each year.

This article was provided on behalf of Dr. Greenberg, a cosmetic dentist in Saginaw that cares deeply about the plight of our precious resources.

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