By Donna Lawrence
Brazilian poet and writer Paulo Coelho once said “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” Imagine if you could do something extraordinary for the planet by simply picking up 10 pieces of litter on your travels.
We at World Expeditions believe there is power in the collective will of global trekkers to keep wilderness trails free of litter. That's why we are a founding partner in the creation of a simple but effective initiative that encourages travelers to pick up 10 pieces of litter each day of their guided treks in Nepal, Bhutan, Peru, and now the Mount Rinjani Climb in Indonesia. Trekkers are invited to be part of 10 Pieces on their adventures, and asked to bring along a pair of gloves and hand sanitizer to pick up items such as plastic bottles and candy wrappers.
Here are 10 good reasons to join the 10 Pieces movement:
- Impact. Less litter on wilderness trails brings benefit to animals and humans. Not only is litter unsightly and capable of ruining our experience in nature, it also poses danger to animals that may ingest it. Often litter on a trail ends up in a river and we all know where our rivers lead to. By removing litter from mountain environments, we are ensuring that it doesn’t end up in our oceans.
- Scale. Ten pieces sounds like a nominal number, but it’s scaled immensely when the collective power of a group of travelers joins in. With a group of just 12 travelers, the 10 pieces quickly turns into 120. And if there’s another group of 12 travelers at the same place the next week, that’s another 120 pieces of litter. It soon adds up.
- Ease. Ten pieces of litter can be collected in under 60 seconds; anyone can do it, alone or with friends, on an organized excursion or not, and it costs nothing. At World Expeditions, we manage the responsible disposal of all litter collected.
- Safety. We provide participants with our reusable litter collection bags. Participants bring their own protective gloves and hand sanitizer, and are asked to only collect paper and plastic litter; no hazardous litter.
- Our planet’s future. As more travelers enter mountain environments, so does infrastructure and therefore non-biodegradable waste. Litter control programs are therefore critically relevant for future generations.
- Leading by example. The communities we pass through along trails in Peru, Nepal, Bhutan and Indonesia may not have been exposed to litter education programs, but when they see visitors to their home collecting litter, it encourages them to be responsible about their waste disposal. With this understanding, they can lobby for better litter disposal methods for their communities, and they also become less likely to throw litter into their environment themselves.
- Leaving No Trace. We are all accustomed to the phrase “take only photographs, leave only footprints." Well we have expanded the “Leave No Trace” concept, to “take only photographs and 10 pieces of litter, and leave only footprints.”
- Forward planning. There’s no point collecting litter if it’s disposed of incorrectly. Before offering 10 Pieces on a trek, we ensure that we can dispose of litter responsibly. In some cases, this means transporting it to the nearest city to be delivered to a recycling plant, and in other cases it’s the clean and thorough incineration of the litter at our campsites.
- Inspiring others. We encourage other travel companies to build the 10 Pieces initiative into their offering, turning this into a collective movement that is propelled forward by travelers globally.
- And finally: because 10 Pieces helps make the world a better place!
Donna Lawrence is Responsible Travel Manager for World Expeditions. Photos courtesy WE.