Bit­ter about lit­ter

Gulf News - - From The Cover - BY SAJILA SASEENDRAN Se­nior Re­porter

Ernesto Sales is bit­ter about lit­ter. The moun­taineer­ing en­thu­si­ast from the Philip­pines has been pained to see the trash pil­ing up along his trails in the moun­tains in the north­ern emi­rates.

He and other mem­bers of the Moun­tain Trail Junkies, who are reg­u­lar hik­ers in Ras Al Khaimah, Fu­jairah and else­where have picked up the trash along their trails many times even be­fore plog­ging be­came a buzz word in this part of the world.

“Moun­taineer­ing is our hobby. If we con­sider the moun­tain as our play­ground, we should treat it as our own place and keep it clean,” said Sales, who re­cently pitched the idea of plog­ging to an­other team of hik­ers called Team Ta­ma­raw DXB.

The cleanup hike at Wadi Shawka in Ras Al Khaimah took place on March 31.

“It was the day we did some­thing spe­cial for Mother Earth. We hiked for ex­actly 10.25km for about two and a half hours and we filled at least 25 60cmx90cm garbage bags with trash col­lected in Wadi Shawka. That’s a lot of filth left be­hind by ir­re­spon­si­ble campers and hik­ers.”

Sales could prob­a­bly be one of the first to post such an ex­pe­ri­ence on so­cial me­dia with the hash­tag #plog­gingUAE

“Thanks to @team­ta­ma­rawdxb for the help­ing hands! I hope to see you again on our next plog­ging and I hope you en­joy as well #plog­gingUAE” one of his posts on In­sta­gram read.

Nelissa Baja, one of the fe­male hik­ers who joined the plog­ging mis­sion in the moun­tain, said her first time ex­pe­ri­ence of pick­ing up trash gave a new mean­ing to reg­u­lar hik­ing episodes.

“This was a bit dif­fer­ent. It gave a feel­ing that you did some com­mu­nity ser­vice, you gave back to the na­ture.”

“It wasn’t much of run­ning. Ini­tially, we did the clean­ing bit. There were trails that didn’t have much garbage. There we hiked. We started pick­ing up lit­ter again along the way.”

Plas­tic and glass bot­tles, empty drink cans, plas­tic plates, left­over food, and even baby di­a­pers are the kind of trash they en­counter.

While they had some group fun, it was also hec­tic for the team to climb up and down with the garbage bags that got filled up very fast.

“Some­times you don’t re­alise the grav­ity of what you are do­ing un­less you take the ef­fort of clean­ing up the trash you left be­hind. We should be dis­ci­plined so at least we can min­imise the dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment,” said Baja.

The hik­ers urged more peo­ple to come for­ward for plog­ging in the UAE.

Moun­taineer­ing is our hobby. If we con­sider the moun­tain as our play­ground, we should treat it as our own place and keep it clean.”

Ernesto Sales | Mem­ber, Moun­tain Trail Junkies

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