“It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.” – Jyn Erso’s answer to Saw Gerrera on Imperial flag reigning across the Galaxy [Rogue One : A Star Wars Story].
If only we could perceive reality by not looking in a direction. Or can we not ?
But in Indian Himalayas, at least if it is not in your line of sight. It is ‘no problem!’. Before we get judgemental, one must realize that we as the visitor, domestic or foreign, are the main cause of this cumulative problems.
While it is easy to motivate a profiteer to haul up a trunk loads of bottled mineral water high up to the mountains for a small cut from your wallet. But there is no incentive to bring those empty plastic bottle back down to the plains for disposal. You can do the simple mathematics here. Those single used plastic bottles, just one of the many form of waste-to-be, will not disappear. They need to share and occupy the same space high up there. Anywhere! in the rivers, along the banks, in the woods, or simply aside the roads and out of sight of every person.
It’s not a problem if you don’t look down ?
Let’s keep talking about water. Its an irony that we need to drink from bottled water when Mother Nature herself is the source of provider of fresh water right there in the Himalayas. Perhaps we visitors find that the source of water is not clean enough. Which is rightfully true as likely it is contaminated by the rubbish that we, as visitor, built up over a period of time, and still piling up by every of our need. So did we work out our drinking water issue or are we adding to the complication?
On the bright note. I did witness town like Dharamshala, have a system to bring their thrash down from the hills. Perhaps it is a easier to undertake as they are located closer to the plains. Still it will only solve half the problem as we do not know where those will end up. For towns which are days of drive away, and with road closure during winter, it is an issue beyond the capacity of the inhabitants. Initiative like the Healing Himalayas, among others, are a good sign of awareness of the problems and should be supported.
What can we do to help ? If not to further multiply the concerns. We as a visitor, a guest, the main source of the demands and needs that transformed into a environmental dilemma. We came to admire the beauty, but unknowingly we left behind more than our footprint (or tyre mark). When we left that wrapper with the road side grocery shop, or a seemingly into a designated rubbish bin in a restaurant. Can we assume we are already doing it right ?
Since it is out of our sight, after we left.