April 22 2009 I have created a monster... my cash for trash program, as everyone likes to call it, has taken on a life of its own. I had intended to motivate others to bring garbage down from Everest, but never imagined it would be this successful. After telling Nic that I was paying 100 nepali rupees (US$ 1.25) per kilogram of old garbage, he decided to go out and find some garbage. Watching strange foreigners and Eco Everest Sherpas bring in garbage and getting paid for it started a wildfire. All of a sudden I had sacks and sacks of garbage coming into our camp. Since Starting the program yesterday, I have now collected nearly 1,500 kilograms of garbage. I am simply amazed considering my target was 2000 kgs. I am considering collecting more.
Last year, on the Eco Everest Expedition 2008 our Sherpas managed to bring down just under a ton, and this was in 8 weeks. We have surpassed that mark on the second day. This year, Sherpas from all other expeditions are joining in. It just goes to show how big an impact we can have if we all just did a little.
One of the reasons there is so much garbage available is because there hasn't been much snow this winter, meaning that the garbage had a chance to thaw out of the ice. Add to this the fact that it's a really hot spring and the ice is melting faster. We have collected more parts of the helicopter that crashed in Camp 1 in 1973, old tin cans as always, oxygen cylinders, gas cylinders, old boots and clothes, pots and pans, destroyed tents, old rope, broken ladders and so many other random objects that shouldn't be on the mountain. I noticed that this year we have a lot more garbage coming from Camp 2. I am being told by the Sherpas that there is almost no more old garbage left in base camp to collect. If this is true then one day of cleaning has cleared all of base camp. I am afraid that I may run out of my budget soon. Right now I am paying for the garbage from the income of the Base Camp Bakery which I have been running here for the last 3 years. I better sell a hell of a lot of apple pies if I am to keep this frenzy fed.