More Chinese volunteers take actions to bring back clearer water and fresh air to Xizang
Published: Jul 15, 2022 12:12 AM
 Volunteers clean the garbage along the Yarlung Zangbo River in 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Beautiful Travel
Volunteers clean the garbage along the Yarlung Zangbo River in 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Beautiful Travel

A group of people wearing blue waistcoats scatter around the hillside bending down to pick up garbage such as discarded plastic bottles left by tourists. Suddenly a Golden Retriever dog runs into the crowd  holding a plastic bottle in its mouth.

This is a routine scene for volunteers from the Chinese public benefit organization Beautiful Traveler founded by Shi Ning in 2013. One of the most important goals of the organization is to reduce trash left by tourists in Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region.

The public benefit activity to protect Xizang's environment has a beautiful name, Caliang Tianlu, which means  clean the road to heaven, and has mobilized more than one million people since it began in 2015.

Shi told the Global Times that volunteers have been recycling bottles left in snow mountains, pastures, lakes and rivers to end the problem once and for all, and by October 2021, volunteer service teams were set up in various regions in Xizang, with around 6,000 volunteers working almost every day to sort and recycle over 40 tons of plastic bottles, or more than 1.5 million bottles.

"Our volunteers overcame difficulties as the outbreak of COVID-19 to gather together and do something for Xizang's environment," Zhang Haiou, expert member of the volunteer team, told the Global Times, saying that she is going to start working on the public benefit activity soon after passing the interview and becoming one of volunteers.

The seventh central symposium on work related to the Xizang region held in 2020 stressed the protection of the environment on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and turned it into a national and international model for environmental progress.

To response to the call, Shi noted that they figured out more creative methods to make the work of the volunteers more convenient and effective while educating tourists to realize the importance of protecting Xizang's environment and reduce the amount of garbage from the source.

Volunteers pose for a group photo. Photo: Courtesy of Beautiful Traveler
Volunteers pose for a group photo. Photo: Courtesy of Beautiful Traveler


Guardian angels
"They are the group of most adorable people I have ever seen," Zhang praised the volunteers she met and worked with.

She said that a volunteer at one of the stations brought a golden retriever to join in the service team. The dog is like an angel that can pick up wasted bottles quickly and at the same time, can comfort people who feel sick on the plateau with its loveliness.

Many local residents also joined the volunteers in collecting the trash as they want to see a cleaner and more beautiful hometown. Teams of local volunteers held 2,000 clean-up operations in 2019 and have set up simple sorting stations. Residents find time to help even during the busy farming season.

The organization helps them to find an effective way to deal with the waste. They set garbage sorting stations in villages of Xizang and transport the discarded bottles to be stored in bundles of up to 500 kilograms.

When they collect 10 tons of bottles, volunteers transport them to Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, to put them into the recycling system.

Zhang said that these discarded bottles can finally become the blue uniform waistcoats worn by the organization's volunteers, achieving a real reusing and recycling.

Volunteers of the organization also started in 2018 to wait at tourist spots where visitors must go when they arrive in Xizang and provide recycle bags to promote the protection of the environment.

"The promotion work has been able to cover 70 percent of the groups of riding and walking tourists," Shi said.

They have set promotional billboards in tourist places of Xizang to inform people not to leave garbage everywhere. 

Shi and his team believe that one day there will be no human-made garbage left in Xizang by these endeavors.