Today this post is quite long, but worth it. Here we show you how important sustainable tourism is for us and give you some tips you should apply while you are trekking and thus not only in Nepal, but also anywhere else on our beautiful Planet!
We believe that tour operators should play a central role in climate change through their ability to influence the tourism supply chain and shape demand. The tour operator also has the ability to inform and educate clients so that they adopt the principles of sustainable tourism.
Let us all operate together for a green and sustainable future. Let us preserve the nature and make it possible for future generations to visit this beautiful country; but more important, make it possible to live in for future generations.
Sustainability – What is it?
Sustainable living is living in a way in which we can continue to do so, as if we are going to live forever. Currently, if everyone in the world lived like the average British we would need three planet earths!
To support and sustain our world we need to keep it as healthy as possible by protecting and sustaining wildlife, plants, ecosystems and habitats because all these things are connected and they each need each other for support.
Sustainability is not only about ecology as many think it is. No, sustainability is also about social and economic.
Indeed, if people are treated equally according to their rights, they then have the chance to get a proper job and earn money to live their life. Living their life is also about caring for their health, which is strongly connected with our Mother Earth’s health.
Now that you understand that everything is related, let us give you some tips to help people of this country take care of their life and their wildlife’s life.
One of the most important rule in sustainability is the 4R rule:
♻ Refuse Try not to accept extra packaging or wrappers.
♻ Reduce Reduce the use of plastic bags, bottles…
♻ Reuse Repair what is broken, give the things you don’t use anymore to charity or find them a second life.
♻ Recycle Transform or reassert the value of the material.
The 4R rule should be put into practice already at home every day and while packing. For example, do not take too much wrapped items with you. These will be heavy to carry up and to carry back to the next bin.
Implication of climate change in Nepal
The retreat of the glaciers is one of the most visible impacts of climate change in Nepal. This deglaciation could have important impact on the water. As the storage capacity of the glaciers will go down, the flow will be lower. These effects will mostly be felt in the arid parts of the region which are already very dry.
Climate change already affects forest type and area, primary productivity, species populations and migration, the occurrence of pests and disease, and forest regeneration. The interaction between elevated CO2 and climate change plays and important role in the overall response of net primary productivity.
Climate change can also affect people’s wellbeing in a variety of ways. It increases the food insecurity and malnutrition. Some diseases such as malaria and dengue fever may move to higher altitudes. Water-borne diseases are also likely to increase with the increasing water stress accompanied by the lack of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in the region.
Climate change impact on the mountains
Mountain environments, worldwide, are likely to be some of the most severely impacted ecosystems in the World from future climate change. The Himalayan alpine zone is particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation. Mountains are naturally and physically vulnerable areas. Climate change, now recognized as the most critical global challenges or our times, has the potentials to convert these vulnerabilities and potential natural hazards into severe natural disasters like floods, crop failures and outbreak of pandemic diseases as has been already demonstrated in recent years: accelerated glacier melting, increased erosion of our thin soil cover and nutrients, slope instability, flash floods etc.
Climate change may affect the critical ecosystems services and environmental flow with potential adverse impacts on the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people living not only in the core areas of Eastern Himalayan slopes but also in the downstream ecosystems.
DID YOU KNOW?
3.3 million People in Nepal do not have access to safe water.
That is why we kindly ask you to be careful with the water consumption
- Keep your showers short.
- Turn off the tap whilst you brush your teeth.
- Avoid excessive flushing of the toilet; do not use it as a general dustbin!
- Please do not buy bottled water. During the trek, ask your guides where to fill your bottle the night before.
Best ways to get clean water
There are many different ways to purify water. The easiest and cheapest way is to boil water to get rid of the bacteria or parasites it might contain.
There are a lot of different purification tablets you can buy in Thamel to clean water:
- Chlorine Dioxide is a common and cheap option.
- odine tablets are another good solution, mostly used by campers.
Both of these methods are the most effective if the water you are purifying is at around 21 °C (68 Fahrenheit). One pill will purify 1 litre of water in 20-30 minutes. Please note: Pregnant women, women over 50 and people with thyroid problems should consult with a doctor prior using these tablets. Further, these tablets might change the taste of the water.
Another solution is to buy a SteriPEN, a portable UV purifier, which does not contain harmful chemicals and does not change the taste of the water. Take some batteries with you to recharge the SteriPEN.
Waste – Leave only footprints
Waste is always a problem when on a trek or expedition. What should I do with the wrappers or any other thing I want to throw away? Well, exactly the same thing you did before using them… carry them with you until the next garbage bin on your way. It is as simple as that.
If you are afraid of getting your stuff dirty, think of carrying with you a ZIP bag to put your rubbish in.
Taking care of his/her waste is good, taking care of the other’s waste is even better!
Yes, errare humanum est (to err is human) and some other trekkers or locals might have forgotten some wrappers on their way… As you already collect yours, you have certainly some place left for theirs.
Once again, to follow the 4R rule, try to consume, while on trek, only unwrapped things. If everybody does it, the demand will decrease which will lead the lodges’ owners to order less of these products and less wrappers will be produced and let on the trails.
IT IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT!
Of course nobody will blame you if you order a good and fresh bottled beer during your journey. J
You have to enjoy your trip after all!
Here you can find some essential tips for leaving no trace and help the locals preserving the beautiful panoramas that Nepal offers.
❀ Use butane, propane, or kerosene stoves whenever you can rather than wood. Even though wood sounds more eco-friendly, keep in mind that mountainous regions in Nepal are prone to deforestation.
❀ Carry spent batteries back to your own country and remember that cigarettes butts are non-biodegradable. Smokers should carry a portable ashtray or quit smoking J
❀ Patronize hotels and restaurants that cooks on solar or hydro power; encourage the others to do so.
❀ Patronize hotels that have solar-heated showers or using hydro power.
❀ Keep to the trails to prevent erosion and do not alter the natural surroundings.
❀ Please don’t collect flowers, plants or seeds as this disturb the plant lifecycle.
❀ For feminine hygiene: women can consider bringing an environment friendly, reusable menstrual cup (e.g., Mooncup) that collects menstrual fluids, as an alternative for tampons. This might be one of the best option as tampons are not easily found (even in Kathmandu) and some bathroom’s guest house are not equipped with dustbin. That will help you avoid finding a bin in the house or caring your tampons with you until you find a bin, which can takes some time in some remote area.
❀ Bury your faeces and burn all toilet paper used if you are not able to wait until the next lodge.
❀ In the lodge, please remember not to throw the paper in the toilets, which would risk to block it or ends in the river.
❀ After reading the previous line, you are now aware that drinking water from the river might not be the best idea...
Nepali culture, fauna and flora
As explained before, sustainability is not only about ecology, but also about social and economics. This is why there are some things that every trekkers should pay attention to. Indeed, Nepali people are trying to preserve their heritage for themselves, but also for curious tourists like us. So why don’t we help them?
Even though it might be very tempting to bring back home Mani stones from a Mani wall, you should consider taking a lot of pictures of them instead to show your beloved ones how beautiful it looks in the Nepali background.
Do not be tempted to buy animal or plant parts, such as fur or orchids and let the store or hotel knows how you feel about it if you see illegal items for sale. Animals and flowers are so much more beautiful when alive!
Employing local companies is also a way to be sustainable as well as eating Nepali food. Remember Think Global, Act Local.
As employing guides and porters, this means that you are now responsible for them.
❀ Tip them fairly
❀ Make sure that they are not carrying too much weight (15 Kg should be a maximum)
❀ They also should be well-equipped, take care that they are wearing good shoes before leaving on a trek.
When you come back from an expedition or a trek and you don’t want to take some of your equipment back home, your guide or porters will be happy to help you get rid of it.
Nepal is a beautiful country that everyone should try to protect. Its inhabitants are all shown incredible strength of character and still face their destiny with determination and positivism. Despite the challenges imposed on them by Mother Nature, the country still raises kindly but surely. Therefore, we must, we lovers of beautiful scenery and nature, help them protect their land so that everyone can enjoy it.
Remember, a good trekker is not the first to reach the top, a good trekker is the one who wants the next generations to enjoy the same paths he had enjoyed before.
We hope that you found these information useful and not too complicated to apply. For further information, here is a list of very interesting books that inspired us for writing this brochure. You can also visit the website of the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project who helped us writting this blog post
Bezruchka, S., & Lyons, A. (2011). Trekking Nepal, 8th Edition: A Traveler's Guide. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books.
Karki, M., Mool, P., & Shrestha, A. (2009). Climate Change and its Increasing Impacts in Nepal. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/init.v3i0.2425
Meyer, K. (2011). How to shit in the woods: An environmentally sound approach to a lost art. New York: Ten Speed Press.
Diane Rebstein & Deborah Taugwalder