There is so much beauty in this world that it is impossible to not be in awe! All we need to do is step out and look up. We, of course, are massive fans of our beautiful and majestic mountains which are more than just a visual delight. Unfortunately many of our mountain regions are suffering from solid waste management issues due to increased tourism activities and illegal dumping practices.
This blog is written by Kushal Gupta, a young trekker who was left speechless after witnessing fellow trekkers mindlessly littering. The story you will be reading is about how Kushal took it upon himself to raise awareness on waste management, not just at home but also in his community and his city.
Everest Base Camp – 17,600ft
It all began in the summer of 2017 when I, along with my parents, decided to trek to Everest Base Camp (17,600 ft). It was an experience which left me captivated but a little heart-broken. The beauty of the mountains was mind blowing, but along the way I noticed that trekkers mindlessly littered, ironically destroying the very beauty they came for. The following year we trekked to the Thorong La Pass (17,769 ft), and much to my dismay, I noticed the same scenario there as well.
Thorang La Pass – 17,769ft
Hypnotized by the serenity and the pristine nature of the mountains, I started writing a blog - Trekinspired - elucidating my feelings for the mountains. Taking my love for the mountains a step further, I decided to do something about the eyesore in the midst of the beauty, and that’s when I encountered Waste Warriors, a non-profit organization working towards making the mountains even more beautiful. Intrigued by their work, in the summer of 2019, I volunteered with Waste Warriors for three weeks in Dharamshala, taking part in various volunteering activities and practices.
Waste Warriors Dharamsala's previous office
Volunteering with Waste Warriors was an eye opener. Besides instilling in me the value of waste management, which now has become a part of me, it made me want to do something for the city I live in. I wanted to make a change even if it meant a small one.
However, before taking this any further, I wanted to start with first making a change at my home. So, when I returned from my volunteering service, I started educating my home staff on the basics of waste segregation. I was surprised with their receptiveness on the subject, and in a short span of time we started categorizing our waste into separate bins - Organic, Recyclable and Non-Recyclable. All our organic waste was composted at home, and eventually used in our garden.
Composting at Home
Recycling at Home
With World Environment Day approaching on June 5th, I wanted to make an impact and reach out to a bigger audience. I made my first powerpoint presentation on Waste Awareness, for the members of the prestigious Secunderabad Club. Besides learning the basics of waste management, we also played a fun game on waste segregation.
Presentation at Secunderabad Club
Apart from making powerpoint presentations, I also conducted a survey in the club. The Secunderabad Club was using an astounding 7500 paper cups per month in the gym alone and this had to be reduced. Thus, I enquired with the gym members on their daily usage of paper cups and asked them if they could replace paper cups with their own bottles or reusable glasses. This helped me spread waste awareness and understand the mindset of the members for further surveys on such perils. It allowed me to convince the management to paste posters in the gym, educating members to avoid the use of paper cups and alternate them with bottles or reusable glasses. It’s a battle won when members comes up to me and say that they have shifted to getting their own bottles/glasses to the gym.
Poster for Secunderabad Club Gym
Survey on Paper Cups
I put forth my plan to spread waste awareness in my school, Sancta Maria, through presentations, fun games and clean up drives. Our school director, Mr Mahender Reddy welcomed the idea and asked me to lead the One Planet initiative – An initiative which aims to protect the environment.
Performing for Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2019
As a music lover, I along with my friends, grabbed the opportunity to play for the Airtel Hyderabad marathon, while spreading awareness. We were allotted a stage along the marathon route to play as a band, as we cheered the runners with our music while spreading waste awareness through posters. It was a great opportunity to educate so many people on waste segregation. I was lucky to be a part of the “volunteers group” for the marathon, which included assisting the runners and a clean-up.
Volunteering for Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2019
Volunteering with Waste Warriors Dharamshala
My next step is to target cafes and restaurants within a kilometre of my home to spread the "no straw campaign", which I was a part of in Dharamshala.
I commend the work done by Waste Warriors. My mentor and guide Bhuwan, a Waste Warrior, has been a true inspiration, who is always ready to help. I'm immensely grateful to Waste Warriors for instilling in me the value of saving the environment. If each one of us starts taking responsibility of our personal waste, our planet would be an even more beautiful place to live in.
written by Kushal Gupta, Hyderabad