Student develops plan to clean up Mt. Everest base camp

Originally posted: February 27, 2013

Dikpal Dhamala’s recent acceptance into the Clinton Global Initiative University means he can start putting an idea into action. The Lake Forest College sophomore’s idea: to develop a plan to clean up the base camp of Mt. Everest in his home country of Nepal.

Dhamala, a Davis Scholar and finance major, applied to attend the annual CGI U meeting from April 5-7 at Washington University in St. Louis, which brings together students, youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges in the areas of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

He hopes the meeting will provide him with connections, funding, and other resources necessary to carry out his “Cash for Trash” project, which aims to pay $1 for every one kilogram of trash collected at the Mt. Everest base camp. The collected trash would then be taken down to a lower altitude and recycled accordingly.

“The idea of the conference is not just to think, but to do,” Dhamala said.

Trash is a known problem in the Himalayan region, Dhamala said, but it is often overshadowed by the world’s bigger problems, like global warming. While he understands that expedition groups are taking measures to survive during their climbs, they also should not shirk their responsibility to keep the mountain free of waste, he said.

His work might begin as early as this summer, when he returns home. The first order of business is to recruit volunteers from the local population to help remove the trash and benefit from the payment of $1 per kilogram of trash. A dollar goes a long way in that region, Dhamala said.

“I think sometimes you can find the best solution from the people facing that problem,” he said.

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