KATHMANDU (NEPAL) – In an effort to highlight the need to save the world’s tallest mountain from turning into a dumping site, Nepal will turn the trash collected from Mount Everest into art. The trash-art will be displayed in a nearby gallery.
Tommy Gustafsson, project director and a co-founder of the Sagarmatha Next Centre – a visitors’ information centre and waste up-cycling facility – said foreign and local artists will be part of creating the artwork from waste materials. Locals will also be trained to turn trash into treasures.
“We want to showcase how you can transform solid waste to precious pieces of art … and generate employment and income,” Gustafsson said and added “We hope to change the people’s perceptions about the garbage and manage it,” he said.
The Centre is located at an altitude of 3,780 metres at Syangboche on the main trail to Everest base camp, two days’ walk from Lukla which is the gateway to the mountain.
Gustafsson said that Everest is due for “soft opening” to locals in the spring as the number of visitors could be limited this year due to COVID restrictions.
Products and artwork will be displayed to raise environmental awareness, or sold as souvenirs with the proceeds going to conservation of the region, he said.
Used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers discarded by climbers and trekkers litter the 8,848.86 metre (29,032 feet) tall peak and the surrounding areas. Local environmental group, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, engages in segregating trash brought down from the mountain or collected from households and tea houses along the trail. Though it might sound easy, this task becomes difficult as it is a remote region that has no roads.
Phinjo Sherpa, of the Eco Himal group involved in the scheme, said under a “carry me back” initiative, each returning tourist and guide will be requested to take a bag containing one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of garbage back to Lukla airport, from where the trash will be airlifted to Kathmandu.
“We can manage a huge amount of garbage if we involve the visitors,” Sherpa said.
In 2019, more than 60,000 trekkers, climbers and guides visited the area. Over the years nearly 4,000 people have visited the region, made 6,553 ascents from the Nepali side of the mountain according to the Himalayan Data base.