BENGALURU: Cleanliness and trekking goes hand in hand for this group. Indiahikes aims at making people socially responsible through their treks.
“We give them an eco bag that they use to collect the waste they find on their way and at the camp site. The waste is then brought down to the city and disposed in an eco-friendly way,” explains Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Green Trails coordinator.
Indiahikes conducts treks in Kashmir, Spiti, Himachal, Uttarakhand, North Bengal, Sikkim and Nepal.
This is part of their Green Trails initiative which was started officially in 2013. “Till now we have collected about 1,000-1,500 sacks of waste. We want to reduce the carbon footprint on the hill and inculcate knowledge about trekking and cleaning the environment at the same time,” Lakshmi adds.
The group also conducts awareness campaigns in the villages they pass by.
While the group has been trekking since 2008, in the last five years, they have noticed a lot of local businesses come up along the trek routes. “This increases the number of food packets being dumped in the area.The waste we get from Roopkund in Uttarakhand is given away to an NGO called Waste Warriors in Dehradun,” informs Lakshmi.
Swathi Chatrapathy, a content team head from Bengaluru, says, “During the recent trek to Roopkund, trekkers got out of their tents at 14,000 ft, when it was freezing and raining, just to clean up the campsite. Over two months, trekkers collected 226 sacks of garbage that came up to 2,130 kg of waste!”
While the 20-member group that joins them for trek would enthusiastically participate in the drive, “about five per cent of them might not like the idea. They can just enjoy the trek without bothering about cleaning,” says Swathi who also run a video show on trekking called Trek With Swathi on their website.
But she adds that many get motivated by seeing people around them participate in the initiative.
Apart from trekkers, even the people in the villages they trek through get to learn how to dispose waste from them. “We conduct awareness camps, clean-up drives, go to the schools there and educate the kids about the importance of wearing clean clothes,” informs Lakshmi.
They also dig an organic waste compost pit on every trek route which they use to throw away all the kitchen waste. A rainwater harvesting pit dug at Roopkund is used to store water for the dry days. They have also installed dustbins in some villages.
The group conduct treks through out the year to different locations.
The participants are asked to avoid carrying plastic with them. In unavoidable circumstances, they have to get it back to the city. The trek rules are conveyed to people before they sign up on the website.