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mountain2  ON THE GROUND

Mountain clean-up fights litter legacy #withnature

Mountain litter takes much longer to decompose at high altitudes. It takes up to 500 years for a soda can, 300 years for a plastic bottle and five years just for a chewing gum or cigarette butt!


The Alpenverein (Alpine Association) in Austria, the Austrian ‘Almdudler’ soft drink company, and UN Environment therefore rolled up their sleeves and organised an awareness-raising and clean-up event to celebrate World Environment Day.


The team came across drink cans, banana peels, cigarette ends, plastic bottles and other sort of trash during their ascent of Mt. Großvenediger, which viewers could follow live on Facebook.


The well-known Austrian mountaineer Peter Habeler (first ascent of Mt. Everest without additional oxygen) was part of the team. Representatives of the partner organisations signed a join moratorium on the peak of the famous and majestic mountain, renewing their commitment to support freeing the mountains of disgraceful trash.


Since 1972, Alpenverein has an ongoing campaign named ‘Aktion Saubere Berge’, or the ‘Clean Mountains Campaign’ to tackle the problem of Alpine littering, raise awareness on the issue and promote sustainable tourism. With support from the Almdudler’ soft drink company, they have advocated clean and healthy mountain environments for many years and equipped Alpenverein cabins with bio-trash bags.


Building on UN Environment’s recently launched ‘Global Mountain Waste Outlook’ and several ongoing initiatives, the event aimed to alert tourists ahead of the holiday season and show how waste management in mountain regions is a serious issue of global concern.


Some 140,000 kilograms of waste remains in the Mt. Everest region for instance, while the number of visitors there is rocketing to new heights.


According to the Outlook, the most common forms of waste from mountaineering activities are human waste and other solid waste material used for equipment and supplies (e.g. tin cans, glass and plastic bottles, food packaging, ropes, batteries etc.).


Environmental impacts range from vegetation clearing and soil erosion to the altering of landscapes and water flows, wildlife displacement as well as water and air pollution.


While it may at first feel as if we'll have a mountain to climb, together, step-by-step, we can make a difference for our mountains and people further downhill.


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