Environmental Policy: Any human intervention in the Ecological fragile areas of the Himalaya has its adverse effects. As a responsible organization we believe strongly in the thought:
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”
The Staff at First Pilgrim (including on-ground and Founding team) are nature – lovers and understand the importance of human interaction with the environment and we are committed not just to protect the environment but also conserve the ecosystems that we come in contact with.
At the heart of our Environmental policy there are two main areas we concentrate on:
1. Maintenance: Maintaining the Status quo by ensuring no further damage is done to the environment.
2. Improvement: Taking steps to improve the practices and ensuring the environment is safeguarded.
1. At the start of the trek, all our trekkers are given a brief on how to keep the trail beautiful and litter free
2. We brief them of best practices to answer the nature’s call away from Water sources so as to prevent contaminating those.
3. Our staff ensure that the utensils are not washed near water sources, so as to contaminate the water source for someone using it downstream.
4. We detest from usage of any chemical based cleaners in the water stream.
5. Batch Size: We restrict the batch size to 10 to ensure we can keep a strict vigil on the waste generated and dispose it off safely once back to civilization
6. We avoid the usage of mules where possible. Increased Penetration of mules with trekking groups lead to removal of grass cover quickly and can be detrimental in fragile areas and quick soil erosion.
Waste Management: We Categorize the waste generated in 3 main areas 1. Bio-degradable 2. Non Bio-degradable 3. Human Toilet Waste
Bio-degradable: We try to minimize this kind of waste. Whatever bio-degradable food waste is generated, we bury it in pits dug atleast 3.5 ft deep. This is covered by earth and soil. This waste degenerates faster than other synthetic waste and will act as nutrient for the soil.
Non Bio-degradable Waste: Whatever Synthetic waste including plastic, glass etc, generated during the trek is collected by Support staff in Safe Bags and carry it back to Lower altitudes. We tie-up with various waste management companies which help us in safely disposing this kind of waste.
Toilets/Human Waste: While there are not enough feasible options available in the Himalaya to effectively manage this kind of waste, here is what we do.We make use of dry toilet tents in most places. We dig a 4x3x1.5ft pits inside the toilet tents to be used by participants. We ensure these tents are as far away from water sources as possible. Once we wind up the camp, we ensure these pits are safely covered and we make use of bio-degradable chemicals to ensure, there is growth of grass and other plants possible in that area. We follow the guildelines as accepted by Indian Mountaineering Foundation and other global Mountaineering agencies.
In glacial and moraine areas, where not possible to dig pits, we make use of bio-degradable bags to carry human waste back to Low Altitude and dispose them off in designated areas / sewers safely.
We are working with few NGO’s, constantly learning and keeping ourselves up with the latest best practices in the world to ensure Human intervention while hiking does not lead to any permanent or even temporary damage to the ecosystem.
At First Pilgrim, we are always willing to learn and tie-up with organizations who can help us improve our practices. If you are an organization who is working in this space, please drop us a mail to [email protected] and we will love to learn more about you.
If you are a trekker/ecologist/nature-lover, you have written something which inspires fellow trekkers to keep the trail clean and with no footprint, please mail it to us at [email protected] for dissemination to a larger audience. If you have a video, we would love to host it too.