Everest Cleanup Effort Transforms Trash of the Trek Into Sustainable Goods

Mar 4, 2024

When people think about Mt. Everest, they often imagine a beautiful, huge mountain covered in snow. But the truth is, the mountain is covered in trash because of many years of climbing. 

Shilshila Acharya plans to change that. She wants to clean up the mountain and help Nepal's Indigenous women at the same time.

Acharya runs the Avni Center for Sustainability in Kathmandu. Since 2019, she has been trying to clean up the mess left by climbers. This includes items like old ropes, used fuel cans, and trash from food. The Department of Tourism in Nepal says there's about 140,000 tons of garbage on Everest, and cleaning it all up isn't easy. 

Acharya told NPR that metal things can be recycled. "But we were not able to find a way (to recycle) these ropes and small cooking gas cans," she said.

At first she didn't know what to do with all the trash that couldn't be recycled. Then, she decided to work with the Nepal Knotcraft Center. They hire local Indigenous women to make things. Acharya's team collects the garbage and gives pieces of rope and cloth to these women. They make baskets, mats, and other items out of the trash. These are then sold in Kathmandu at fairs and craft shows. 

Acharya estimates they have turned 55 tons of trash into useful items, which is a small start. But she believes it's an important step toward a future where we take care of our planet. 

Reflect: Imagine you’re leading an expedition up Mt. Everest. What gear do you think you’d need, and how might you plan the trip to minimize your impact on the natural environment?

Photo courtesy Luca Galuzzi on Wikimedia Commons.

Which of the following statements from the article presents a fact rather than an opinion? (Common Core RI.5.8; RI.6.8)
a. Climbing Mt. Everest should be banned to prevent further pollution.
b. Cleaning up Everest is very important for the future.
c. There's about 140,000 tons of garbage on Everest.
d. Art objects made from trash are not appealing to buyers.
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