Travelers' trash in Tibet raises concerns, volunteers take action

By Ji Yuqiao Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/15 23:49:47

Volunteers pick up garbage in Tibet. Photo: Courtesy of Shi Ning

A local girl takes part in the public benefit activity to collect trash in Tibet. Photo: Courtesy of Shi Ning

A public benefit activity aiming to reduce trash left by travelers in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region saw more than 100 volunteers from around the country arrive in Tibet to pick up trash and calls for more people to do the same.

One of the volunteers was disabled mountain climber Xia Boyu, who was the first disabled Chinese mountaineer to reach the summit of Mount Qomolangma, as the Paper reported.

Shi Ning, founder of the public benefit activity Beautiful Travel, told the Global Times on Monday that the increasing number of tourists in Tibet are leaving huge amounts of trash, such as plastic bags and bottles. In 2019, around 40 million visitors arrived in Tibet, creating 134 million kilograms of trash, including more than 2 billion plastic bottles in 2019. Without a recycling facility in the autonomous region, more than 80 percent of the bottles are buried in local landfills.

Beautiful Travel volunteers have collected plastic bottles along highways, pastures and lakes, which are sent to other areas outside Tibet in bundles weighing 500 kilograms.

Many local residents joined the volunteers in collecting the trash.

Shi said that now there are volunteer service teams around Tibet and Nyingchi, a popular tourist city in Tibet, has 50 teams with more than 5,000 volunteers. 

Teams of local volunteers held 2,000 clean-up operations in 2019 and have set up simple sorting stores. Residents find time to help even during the busy farming season.

"We want to change the situation and solve the problem," Xia, the disabled mountaineer, told the Paper as he collected waste with other volunteers along a river canyon on September 7.

"I'm wearing prosthetics, so it's a little inconvenient for me to bend over, otherwise I would be faster," Xia and his teammates collected 400 bags of trash in half a day.

To create more opportunities for interaction between volunteers, locals and tourists, the first floor of a planned recycling station will include meeting rooms, workshops and an arts and crafts area.

It has been five years since the Beautiful Travel was launched in Tibet.

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