What can we learn from Mount Everest?

Have you seen the recent queues to climb up Mount Everest? There is a people/traffic jam up there of historic proportions! People are lining up, risking their lives and pushing their bodies to the limit so they can say they climbed Mount Everest and maybe buy the T-shirt to prove it.

This week, I don’t want to talk about conquering challenges or the discipline it takes to train for this sort of task. I want to talk about what we learn from Mount Everest pre 2018 and post 2018.

Mount Everest was virtually untouched until 29 May 1953 when New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay successfully climbed the summit, making them famous. In the years that followed, Mount Everest represented the ultimate pinnacle for many people who wanted to climb it ‘because it’s there’.

Since Hilary and Norgay’s achievement more than 4000 people have scaled the summit and in recent times around 100,000 visit the region each year. This has brought with it a particular problem that is certainly not unique to the tallest mountain in the world – rubbish! By 2016 to 2017, Mount Everest looked like the world’s highest garbage dump.

The majority of the rubbish is located at the ‘death zone’ where people are more worried about survival than littering but that makes the clean-up task even more dangerous for others. The problem also arises from less experienced climbers who pay guides to carry their gear. This means that the guides don’t have room to carry down the rubbish.

The rubbish problem must have seemed impossible to fix but the Nepalese came up with a plan and it worked. Every climber now has to remove an additional 8kg of litter (not including their own) and if they don’t they forfeit a $4000 deposit. In addition to this, Sherpas are paid $2 for every kilogram of rubbish they bring down with them.

Changing the rules and expectations so everyone was responsible for their own rubbish and also did a bit extra, is what turned Mount Everest from a garbage dump to a relatively clean climb.

At Glasshouse Christian College we carry out this same spirit of cleanliness. Students are certainly expected to pick up their own rubbish but they have a civic responsibility to clean up any rubbish they see near them.

That’s why I’m so proud of our Clean Up Club in Year 3. Students from this class give up their lunch break once a week and fill buckets with rubbish that has been dumped by others. This group of young students are cleaning up because they take pride in their school and want to see it looking lovely.

Clean Up Australia Day is a good event but it’s only once a year. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone picked up their own rubbish and a bit extra every single day? This is where you as parents and caregivers have a unique responsibility to role model behaviour that takes care of our environment and country.

When you are out with or without the family, take an extra minute to look around and pick up someone else’s rubbish. Not only will this result in a cleaner environment it will also be an important investment in the hearts and minds of those others who may be watching.

Let’s take care of our beautiful country together.

Mike Curtis
Principal

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