Your impact, as a trekker, is heavier than you might imagine. It’s not just a question of litter, sanitation and path erosion: outside conservation areas where wood-burning is prohibited, it’s estimated that one trekker consumes, directly and indirectly, between five and ten times more wood per day than a Nepali. The following are suggestions on how to minimize your impact on the fragile Himalayan environment.
- Where the choice exists, eat at places that cook with kerosene, electricity or propane instead of wood. If trekking with an agency, complain if wood is being used.
- Bring plenty of warm clothes so you (and your porter) are less reliant on wood fires.
- Try to coordinate meal orders with other trekkers; cooking food in big batches is more efficient.
- Avoid hot showers except where the water is heated by electricity, solar panels or fuel-efficient “back boilers”.
- Treat your own drinking water rather than relying on bottled or boiled. Plastic bottles are not recycled in Nepal.
- Use latrines wherever possible. Where there’s no facility, go well away from water sources, bury your faeces and burn your toilet paper (or use water, as Nepalis do).
- Use phosphate-free soap and shampoo, and don’t rinse directly in streams.
- Deposit litter in designated rubbish bins, where they exist. Elsewhere, carry back all non-burnable litter: tins, plastic bottles and especially batteries.