3 Lessons Cleaning Up a Himalayan Mountain with Tibetan Refugees on Mother Earth Day

“Don’t blow it – Good planets are hard to find.”
~ Quoted in Time

Mother Earth Day Banner

Throughout my times traveling in India as well as other parts of Asia (including Philippines, Bangladesh, and Nepal), I have often been very disturbed by pockets of places where you can find piles of garbage being dumped in rivers, beaches and in empty land lots.

Lazy Habits & Poor Environmental Regulations in Some Parts of Asia

What frustrates me is the lax laws and regulations of federal and local governments which allow careless rubbish dumping to persistently occur. I personally also think that while governments have a role to play, I also think that it’s the local people who have the biggest responsibility to basically overcome past habits of carelessness to simply clean up after themselves.

As an Asian-Australian myself, I personally believe that the current state of the environment in various parts of Asia is just not good enough.
Appreciating Nature Atop Himalayas in India

Your Community Can Get Proactive About Helping the Earth

A few days ago, I was in the small Tibetan refugee town of McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala, India. I was amazed to see several groups of ordinary Tibetan people with empty bags and gloves, patrolling the streets to clean up any garbage and mess that they could find.

There were young and old, women and men who were helping out. Even foreign tourists were helping out in the cause, along with the local people.

Reduce Re-use Recycle on a Himalayan Mountain

I was very happy to see them get so active. The community participation was inspiring. It reminded me of the good ol’ Clean Up Australia Day that I would take part in back in my hometown around the Fairfield area of Sydney, Australia.

Learning from Positive Actions Taken on Mother Earth Day

Here are 3 lessons that struck me throughout my time experiencing Mother Earth Day in McLeod Ganj, India:

1) Clean Up Your Local Community

While the Tibetan refugees are not originally from Dharamsala, as they were given special permission to stay there by the Indian Government, it would seem that they still have treated it as their second home. They have taken responsibility for the cleanliness and the condition of their town, and it was very evident to me on Mother Earth Day.

Tibetan Women Cleaning Up the Streets

Picking Up Trash for Mother Earth Day

From the local McLeod Ganj town, I witnessed volunteers cleaning up near the busy restaurants and shopping buildings, as well as on Temple Road amidst the long line of street artisans and vendors. On that day, I walked out to Bhagsu’s Waterfall where water from the Himalayan mountain tops ride down to the valleys, and I even saw volunteers cleaning up around the waterfall too.

2) Pledge Yourself to a Good Cause

On Mother Earth Day in McLeod Ganj, the program also consisted of writing pledges about how the local people and international visitors could help out our planet.

I think making written or verbal commitments are important too. It helps people take ownership of what they can do individually to help out the cause.

Committing to Help Mother Earth

Pledge to Save the Environment

Mother Earth Day in McLeod Ganj, India

Everyone can play a role in the betterment of our local and global communities – even in the doing of small, simple and everyday tasks.

3) Get As Many People As You Can to Help Out

I had interviewed some of the volunteers during the Mother Earth Day in McLeod Ganj, and they told me that the whole day was organized by a number of various charities and non-governmental organizations, including Mountain Cleaners and the Non-Profit Initiative Rogpa Shop & Cafe. There was plenty of enthusiasm and participation from these different groups and organizations. Each of them had activities for the day, including the clean up, performances, competitions and film showings.

Group of Tibetan School Kids Pledge to Help Enviroment

Mother Earth Day Organisers Calling People to Participate

I think that the buzz of the day wouldn’t have been as big had Mother Earth Day involved only one organization. I think the synergy of all the people involved drew in a larger crowd and made the day more impactful for greater numbers of people.

This is the advantage of collaborating with other people and organizations.

Impression of Mother Earth Day in Mcleod Ganj, India

Overall, the environmental concern in McLeod Ganj was more pressing because of the necessity of the environment to the very livelihood of the Tibetan community there. Not only that, the beauty of the large Himalayan mountains observable in the town continues to remind all the locals and visitors there that the environment is so important to us all.

While we are but individual and small humans on this planet, we still have the power and responsibility to do something to help Mother Earth.

Cleaning Up Himalayan Mountains

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About the author : Matthew Alberto