Team Up for Change - Clean up drive, Leh Reviews
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Clean up drive, Leh

Clean up drive, Leh

Team up for Change is a platform to highlight current environmental issues and a call to action. Under the banner, we cleaned up Old town , Leh and a stream near Fort Road, Leh on 5th -6th August, 2017 respectively.

Team up for Change is an initiative born out of the dire need to create awareness at a micro and macro level. Discover Ladakh, a land that remained relentlessly unscathed by consumerism for centuries, is being afflicted by the dramatic response of tourism, the invasion of consumerist goods and services, the lack of a proper garbage disposal system, further aggravated by climate change and unpredictable weather.

Its pristine villages stayed alien to the concept of plastic products with crystal clear streams, from which one could directly drink water. However, change has been swift to seep into Ladakh. With development and progression came tourists and revelers leading to a staggering amount of regression for the region in the last couple of years.

If one was to compare the rate at which rapid change in Ladakhi society has occurred to the substantially short time duration it has occurred in, a live graph of the same would reveal that the land, its geography, prehistoric culture and its people are not equipped to, nor do they require the degree of change being brought in. The impact on the environment has been inevitable. Non-decomposable waste, expansive tourism, climate change, erosion of a deep-rooted cultural heritage, the list is pretty long. 

Team Up for Change is a platform to bring attention and call to action to these pressing current matters. The initiative anticipates the need to begin now and counter the negative impact by creating awareness in tourists and more importantly, locals. The cleanliness drive began with a simple notion, to disperse in groups and collect litter, promote sustainable tourism, thereby ridding the streets of Old town Leh and stream from the scattered waste, mainly plastic and bottles, and to develop this process into a monthly routine. The team were cleaning Old Leh town on 5th August and a stream on Fort Road on 6th August, 2017.

On 5th August this year, a band of volunteers assembled at Fort Road ready with gloves and a gunny bag to collect waste. Word had been spread throughout Leh in the last week about the clean up drive in Leh and a healthy number of 35 people turned up. A mix of tourists, backpackers, climbers with the oldest being a 65 year old Frenchman to a 6 year old local kid. This group was supported by almost 40 sanitation workers from Leh Municipal department which also chipped in and gave this initiative a major boost. The corporation had also stationed garbage trucks at various points around Old Leh town which would make it easier for the group to transfer their garbage bags into the trucks. We set out for Old Leh town and dispersed into groups and picked innumerable plastic bottles, tetra packs, beer bottles and plastic bags.  Our main aim was to clean up the litter and garbage on the routes into and out of Old town and also any collection of garbage with plastic bottles and waste. Starting at 11 am, we finally filled 2 trucks full of garbage by 3 pm and found ourselves sweating in the strong August sun with Old town a little cleaner. We knew cleaning the area for only a day was not the solution, but it was a start. At the end of the drive, we distributed juice, water, bananas and samosas to all the volunteers. A day of hard labor is always a day well spent!

The next day was a wet affair. We jumped into the stream near Fort Road and not only cleaned up the garbage but also opened up the points which were choking the stream. Bags filled with sand, shirts, iron roads, blankets, clothes to fill in a whole new closet, you name it were found in that stream. A full truck of garbage was filled cleaning 50 meters of the stream. You can only imagine the time and effort that is needed to clean up the whole stream all the way.

To preserve the environment is an enduring process, one which requires the participation of all members of the community. Team Up for Change attempts to be an action oriented platform, to involve the people and ensure each sector of the community partakes in propagating sustainable tourism. We can't change the world. But we can certainly change our attitude towards it. Just #follow_the_feather

*We would like to give our sincere thanks to All Ladakh Tour Operators' Association (ALTOA), Unexplored Ladakh, Local Futures and Municipal Corporation Leh