When Trekking in Nepal please keep in mind that the country faces huge environmental challenges and you can contribute positively or aggravate it if you are not careful. Keep these simple guidelines in mind to make your trek a more eco-conscious experience!
- De-forestation: is a massive issue in this country, so you should always stay in guesthouses where the families cook with kerosene or fuel-efficient wood stoves as opposed to wood (and if they do cook with wood, make the trekking company aware of it) – this is not always easy to adhere to as kerosene costs more money and gathering of fire wood is in many parts of Nepal the easier option for the locals to cook for themselves and trekking visitors. However, if you order meals cooked with firewood, you encourage the in-keepers to continue using wood to prepare their meals and ultimately encourage them to cut more trees.
- Filter Water Bottle: If you really want to minimise impact, buy yourself a filter water bottle before you travel to Nepal. I bought this Travel Tap ‘ Pull Top’ drinksafesystems* water filter bottle (which I highly recommend!) and it is truly a god-sent travel gadget to have. Ben opted for the Eco stainless steel *version which keeps the water nice and cool – however, you cannot pour (squeeze) water into a cup as it works by suction with an in-built straw. Not only are you guaranteed clean drinking water wherever you go, but you also cease to invest in plastic bottles which are non-biodegradable. Not infrequently have we passed towns which were littered with plastic waste. If you’re lucky they are being burnt in someone’s courtyard. Keep in mind, that the fancy rubbish collection trucks you grew up with are not a reality in Nepal. So, basically: anything that is non-biodegradable causes an issue. (***These are affiliate links. Nevermind, the products rock!)
- Solar showers: Choose guesthouses with solar showers or shower cold – as an alternative: bring enough babywipes / they’ll keep you clean. However, try to stick to biodegradable products if possible or collect your rubbish in a plastic bag and carry it with you in your backpack. Speak with your guide and ask him for advice on where to best dispose of waste in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Consolidate cooking time: by ordering the same meals in the group – Daal bhaat is usually readily available – it is inexpensive, healthy and does not require a lengthy cooking time. Just food for thought : Most Nepalis eat Dhal Baat twice per day everyday of their lives! ***In case you do not know what I’m talking about: if you do any trek in Nepal, you will only eat in tourist approved restaurants / tea houses. They all have roughly the same menu which means you pretty much eat the same meal over and over again (foods high in carbs to keep your energy levels up).
- Take out batteries: from your waste as they will eventually leak toxins. And do not throw garbage into the fireplace unless you discussed it with your guide and he in turn consulted with the family. This would otherwise be seen as offensive.
- Carry a small plastic bag: for your toilet paper when you need to go for a break in the bushes. Better even: carry a special water bottle to clean yourself with your hand – the majority of the world’s population uses their left hand to clean themselves this way. I personally prefer the plastic bag option. Either way – please do not litter and leave any waste in the woods.
What other measures do you suggest to minimise environmental impact in Nepal? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived.
- Sidney Sheldon