Sample Nepal Village Zero Waste Plan
(A work in progress)
1) Locate village waste sites. Are they trash pits dug out for burning? Are they in a windy spot? If so, build a fence around them so rara (ramen) and biscuit packets don’t blow away. Do cows frequent the site and forage? If so, a fence will stop this. Cows die from ingested plastics, and the plastic can’t be a positive influence on the milk the cows produce.
2) Are there incinerators for burning trash in the village? Review which plastics are being burned and at what temperature.
3) At the trash pits (and also in a few volunteer homes) separate out the resources from the trash: aluminum, glass, compostables like paper, cardboard and food scraps.
4) Find a nearby source that will buy the aluminum and a local willing to carry it out.
5) Find a nearby source that will buy or recycle glass and a local or foreign NGO willing to carry it out. Often there are porters willing to carry for a small fee or trucks heading downvalley that are empty.
6) Conduct awareness camps with locals to re-assess why compostables like paper, cardboard, and organics like food scraps are ending up in the trash pits. Methane gas from organic waste in landfills is a large contributor to greenhouse gas worldwide. This organic waste should be seen as a resource for compost piles. Remind locals that tea bags can be composted. Eggshells can be composted. If locals are going into the forests to collect leaves (carbon) for compost, they should be saving their paper and cardboard which has the same affect on compost piles if shredded into smaller pieces. Teaching locals to keep the leaves beneath the trees to prevent erosion will take time, but showing them that the paper and food scraps can take their place could go a long way in reducing the amount of leaves being taken from the already denuded environment.
7) Toxic waste drop-off site: designate a local place (either one right at the pit or at a community center) where people can drop off their toxic waste – batteries, lead acid car batteries, CFL light bulbs. Find a local conservation group that will transport them to a safe disposal site.
8) Cut down on single use items. If there are many plastic water bottles in the trash pits, locals can look into getting a potable water filter donated to the community. Informed trekkers will bring their own water bottles to be re-filled with safe drinking water. Signs in the village indicating where the safe potable water can be purchased will help reduce plastic water bottle waste. The village or individual lodges that purchase the water filters will get a return on their investment.
9) Create goals for the future: plastic bag bans in your village, public potable water station.
Thanks to Clif Bar, we’ve been able to take some of these steps in interested villages in Solukhumbu and Mustang. The goal is to get the plastic and toxic waste out of the critical high mountain watersheds. Our steps may be small, but with continued follow-through they will have a lasting impact on Nepal’s increasingly threatened, garbage-choked watersheds.