Waste Management / Recycling

We need to do things smarter and faster before it is too late to be done.

Together with our friend Ms. Chen Chen and her friends from Taiwan and Japan, we were able to build a waste sorting center in Tungri village and educate people about waste management. Zanskar is not spared from continuous growth and so with the ease of transportation and access to modern products, large quantities of plastic, glass, batteries, and electronics are rapidly arriving in Zanskar. These also end up in the garbage, sometimes dumped on the road or at a last camp on the way to another village. In the summer, when road and house repairs are possible, many seasonal workers join the population in Zanskar to work on road construction. They camp near the river and once the work is done or winter arrives, they leave all their waste behind. This waste left behind gets washed into the rivers during the rains or when the snow melts the following season. These rivers are sometimes the only source of water for some villages, which are then contaminated by the waste and plastics left behind. Pollution has become a major problem in Zanskar.

In the past, the environment in Zanskar was totally clean. This does not mean that people were more careful with their waste, but rather that packaged goods had not been introduced into Zanskar.

Now in the village of Tungri the women’s association collects all the garbage left behind in the environment on a monthly basis. Every family got a big dustbin with wheels to throw the household rubbish in the sorting center. Part of the waste collected in the sorting center can be sold and reused in the cities of Kashmir (metal, glass, plastic and paper) and the rest is burnt (shoes and clothes). Batteries are kept, so far we didn’t find a proper solution to dispose of them, except returning them with tourists to countries where they can be disposed of cleanly.