Mt. Everest is plagued by garbage. These Nepali women are transforming it into crafts

A group of Nepali women, led by Sunita Kumari Chaudhary, are transforming waste collected from Mt. Everest into crafts, with the initiative also supporting government efforts to clean the mountains since 2019.

Waste recovery efforts: The Nepali Army’s “Safa Himal Aviyan” (Clean Mountain Campaign) has been working to clear the mountain of waste since 2019.
* The campaign has retrieved nearly 108 tons of waste, including ropes, discarded mountaineering gears, and small cooking gas cans.
* Waste that is non-biodegradable is repurposed, with some of it sent to craftswomen to transform into sellable items.

Transforming waste into crafts: Craftswomen like Sunita Kumari Chaudhary are giving the mountain waste a new lease on life.
* The ropes used by the climbers are woven into boxes, mats, and other items.
* Chaudhary is part of the indigenous Tharu community, and is teaching other women in her group to create these items.
* The products are sold at Nepal Knotcraft Centre’s outlet in Kathmandu and craft exhibitions.

Economic impact: The initiative is also serving as an economic opportunity for the participants.
* The women are paid according to the number of items they make and sell.
* On average, they earn about $3 for half a day’s work, reportedly slightly above the local minimum wage.

The challenges: However, the crafting project faces some issues, primarily related to the sourcing and processing of the waste materials.
* Segregation and cleaning the ropes is time-consuming and costly.
* Project owner Shilshila Acharya still needs to find a sustainable business plan and investment to make the item crafting sustainable on a larger scale.

By the numbers: Tourism Department of Nepal estimates that there are about 140,000 tons of mountaineering waste on Mt. Everest alone.
* So far, Shilshila Acharya’s waste processing center, Avni Center for Sustainability, has received 55 tons of non-biodegradable waste.

View original article on NPR
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