I once read a quote that goes “we are all travellers”. It resonated to me more than I expected it to be. With the advent of cheap air tickets and house sharing services such as AirBnB and couch surfing, travelling these days is relatively cheap as compared to before. Once a luxury to many, going abroad or exploring local destinations is now easier. With that, mass hoards of people from all walks of life travel.
Don’t get me wrong; I think travelling educates one more than academic institution does. It expands your horizons and teaches you life’s greatest lessons. But with this advent to mass travelling, the environment takes the toll, in an irreversible way.
I noticed this while I was hiking Gunung Pulai a few years ago. Of course I prepared the things I needed – bottles of water, first aid kit for emergency, extra shirt and everything you need for a quick get away to the serene and stunning part of the wilderness. While my friends and I hiked to the top of the mountain, in between boulders and strips of forests, I saw garbage scattered along the trail. A literal garbage trail filled with energy bar wrappers, discarded plastic bottles, candy wrappers and such guided us as we trekked to the top. The amount of rubbish deposited at the waterfall area was appalling.
It offended me in a personal level. The offense was great in such a way that I want to personally educate these hikers, trekkers or so called explorers to be environmentally conscious. If one considers himself as an environmental explorer, then it should also follow that as an explorer, he has the responsibility to protect the environment, to preserve it in its natural state and educate others regarding its conservation. We are all visitors, I think treating mountains, deserts, lakes or any place that we visit with respect and dignity that it deserves is the utmost thing we can do as we pass by.
I must say that I was pretty impressed with how Taman Negara Gunung Ledang Office manages the Leave No Trace principle at the 100 million years old Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir). Hikers preparing to climb Mt Ophir must do a declaration of the items they intend to bring up with their hike (down to the number of garments they wear, undergarments included!) The park officials conduct a personal belonging check at the beginning and at the end of the hike to ensure hikers bring down what they brought up!
As we become travellers, we should also aim to be an environmentally conscious one. Take a look at the rubbish you leave behind. Do you put them in recycle even when you travel? While you trek, do you save your wrappers and empty water bottles until you find a proper bin to dispose them? Every little action has consequences, that when combined, can be disastrous to every one. A single candy wrapper, when accumulated overtime can cause massive clog in drainage system, kill animals that mistakenly eat them or poison natural water sources.
Even though you had nothing to do with the trash littered around, it would greatly help to do your part. Start volunteering in clean up drives or use social media to increase the awareness in environmental conservation. Be environmentally conscious as every little action counts. You can either help save the environment, or help destroy it. It is your choice.
To end this blog post, I want you, my readers to ponder over this fantastic motto by a caving group: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time and leave nothing but footprints. Simply put, leave everything the way it should naturally be.