Bitter about litter
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