The 4 R’s motto and movement; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or Refuse, is very familiar to me as a Canadian. From a young age we are taught the negative environmental consequences of single-use plastic items, the importance of pollution control and best-practices for overall environmental sustainability.
In Nepal, and much of the developing world for that matter; it is very common to see trash scattered around the spectacular scenery. Fields, trails, temples, sidewalks, road sides and school yards are often littered with empty plastic bottles, discarded food wrappers, plastic bags, old papers and random abandoned items.
Last week, the Creating Possibilities Staff at UNAKO House in Dang Region Nepal decided to take action and began an awareness campaign in the local area. For 3 days, they, along with myself and Bregje Abspoel a volunteer from The Netherlands, executed early morning trash collections in 3 neighbourhoods. Over 60 people showed up each morning to assist with the clean-up efforts. Interestingly, each day the group grew from the initial 60 to well over 100 participants! Others saw what was happening and wanted to pitch in and help! Amazing!
Each afternoon, the group that assisted with the collection was invited to UNAKO House to learn more about Environmental Sustainability. In the session we covered many important topics like:
- the fact that plastic bottles/bags take 400-1000 years to decompose
- the health consequences of burning plastic
- the environmental implications of burying plastic
- the 4 R’s and how they can use them in their daily life
- how to repurpose plastic bags/bottles
Small break-out teams brainstormed ideas on what they can do in their daily lives to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or Refuse and shared the ideas with the larger group. The sessions ended with each participant being given a reusable water bottle to help reduce single-use plastic bottles. The bottles were purchased with generous donations from Canada and The Netherlands.
It’s often assumed that when a city/country is covered in litter that the locals simply don’t care about the environmental repercussions. I would argue that it is a lack of awareness and education. I remember very clearly my Mom and Dad drinking a beer while on a Sunday afternoon drive, smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and climbing into the back of my Grandpa’s station wagon with 10 cousins to head to the beach. Today, not only are all of these examples illegal but they are socially stigmatized. Awareness and education!
Motivated by overwhelming participation, the communities' strong desire to learn and Earth Day coming up on Monday April 22nd; we are excited to execute this program in 30 more communities. Not only will this project clean up these villages it will educate over 1500 people - and in turn their families, impacting over 5000 people!
If you are able, we would appreciate a donation to realize this mission. It costs just under $2.50CDN ($2US) per participant (including the reusable water bottle) - we are looking to raise $3,500 to achieve this goal. You can make a donation directly to Her International and receive a tax receipt for any donations over $25.
It’s a dream that one day I will visit Nepal and find the beauty of the people reflected in the cleanliness of the country’s landscape.