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Preserving Ladakhs unique environment

Tips for the visitor concerning environmental issues

Ladakh was for hundreds of years an autark society living on agriculture, husbandry and a little trading. Since military access in the 1960s and opening for tourism in 1974 it has to deal with a lot more people and the consequences of imported good. Yearly there are 40. – 50.000 tourists who have to eat and drink as well as use water for showers, toilet and laundry. The ecological system is fragile and to maintain the beautiful landscape, there are some efforts to be made. There is no propper solid waste management in Leh, out of Leh there is nothing. Here are some suggestions of what you can do:

In Leh

  • First is to avoid rubbish.
  • Try to avoid plastic bottles, buy boiled water at Dzomsa (it is also cheaper), ask your Guesthouse/Hotel, if they have big filters or use your own filter/Micropur
  • When eating in the restaurants, have a thought about the ingredients of your favoured dish: Do they have to come a long way? Are the packed in tins? Prefer dishes made from local products.
  • Give your empty batteries to Dzomsa or better take them home, where there is a proper system for recycling. Ladakh doesn’t have any possibilities.
  • Put your rubbish in the garbage bins and give the organic waste to your guesthouse or some other people who have animals to feed.
  • Water is scarce and Leh has big problems. Try to avoid water flush toilets and prefer Ladakhi style compost toilets if there are some. Try to shower or wash with only small amounts of water.
  • Have a look at the water heating system in your Guesthouse/Hotel. A lot have black water reservoirs on the roof – in summer the water should be hot in the afternoon without additional heating.
  • Give your laundry to Dzomsa as the use eco-friendly detergent and wash it in a stream which leads.
  • Buy local products for snacks like dried apricots and apples as well es Yos (roasted barley). Take your biscuits from local Ladakhi bakeries instead of using products from India. Local products are mostly packed in paper and not plastics.

In the villages
  • As there is no solid waste management, get the rubbish back to Leh, ask villagers about burning it or burn it yourself.
  • Don’t waste and pollute the water, ask villagers where to wash yourself and your laundry.
  • Take your own bottles and Micropur or another filter to clean the water from the rivers.
  • When giving candy to children or others, collect the wrapping paper and carry it to a proper place.
  • Use candles instead of torches whenever possible in order to save batteries.

While trekking
  • Ask your trekking agency if they use the green bag to get tins and bottles back to Leh.
  • Ask your staff to use the green bag and burn other rubbish.
  • If you trek without an agency do the same: burn the burnable items and get the others back to Leh or better back home.
  • Take your own bottles and Micropur or another filter to clean the water from the rivers. Boiled water needs a lot of kerosine.
  • In the tent restaurants prefer the the things without rubbish, otherwise, take the rubbish with you.
  • Take a small bag for your used toilet paper during the day. Put it in the evening or morning in the fire.
  • Ask your trekking agency to avoid the silver foil. They like to use it for wrapping everything in the packed lunch, but napkins should also work and can be burned after use.
  • Use ecological soap and wash yourself a little away from the river.
  • Please use the ladakhi-style toilettes on the camping istead of hiding behind big stones.

Try to use your senses. Then you can find out easily on your own what will help to preserve ladakhs fragile eco-system. Please tell us your ideas so we can apply it. Thank you for supporting a careful and intelligent travelling.

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