Waste not, want not

I just watched Gravity – what an amazing film.  It really has some tense moments and I found myself clenching my teeth throughout most of the 90 minutes.  One thing though that stuck in my mind long after the happy ending was the debris in space that caused all the problems to begin with.  Don’t we just do that all over the world – leave our rubbish to spoil the environment.  Now we are doing it in space.  Wow.  Pretty bad behaviour.

Everest is another example.  When you plan your ascent you are asked to take a plastic bag to the top with you so you can bring some garbage down off the mountain with you.  Shame on those climbers who scattered their litter all over Everest.  You would think someone who would love mountains so much that they would be prepared to pay the large amount of money it costs to fly there, get to base camp, buy all the equipment would at least have the common sense to want to leave the area in a pristine condition.

It reminds me of the first cruise I ever took – on the Odysseus part of one of the cruise lines now defunct and not operating.  She was just a 12.000 ton old cruise ship but we followed a magnificent 21 day itinerary from Durban all the way up to the Seychelles.  We stopped at remote islands like Aldabra where the giant tortoises roam and browsed through markets in the Comores where the women all wore white paint on their faces and swarmed around my little blond haired boy in amazement.  Yes it was a remote and beautiful part of the world but one of the passengers who liked to fish off the back of the boat came and alerted us that every evening there would be a mass dumping of orange garbage bags off the back of the ship.  We were appalled and some people argued with the crew who just shrugged their shoulders.  They had no other method to deal with the disposal of garbage and I guess this was the way it was done in those days.  Shame on them!

Even in Communist Poland everything was recycled – of necessity perhaps – but it was done.  When you wanted toilet paper you would take your paper products to the recycling depot.  It would be weighed and then you would receive the equivalent amount of toilet paper in return.  That puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “I need to go”.  Yes first you had to go and recycle.

Nowadays there is far more scrutiny on how players in the tourism business work with the environment, which is a good thing. So next time you head up Everest bring back the best souvenir of all – your rubbish!

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. You hit a soft spot there – but I totally agree with you. We are capable of so many things and aware of so many possible solutions for dealing with the garbage, but we don’t do anything! I think that not throwing garbage in an organized way should be considered something very serious and that people should receive a strict education on that matter. Hopefully this will change our behaviour regarding the nature.


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