Resource Use

Project turns Everest waste into art

The north face of Mount Everest

A new project initiated by Nepali arts organisation Da Mind Tree has upcycled rubbish collected from the slopes of Mount Everest into pieces of art.

With more than 30,000 tourists accompanied by 80,000 expedition and trekking staff visiting the Everest region each year, environmental degradation is becoming an ever-increasing problem. Waste is reportedly spread all over the mountain, and consists of thousands of oxygen cylinders, gas cartridges, discarded tents, ropes, human waste and even carcasses.

The Saving Mount Everest Project – 2011/12, run by the Everest Summiteers’ Association (ESA), aimed to increase awareness of the need for waste management plans and collect and responsibly handle approximately eight tonnes of rubbish from the slopes of Mount Everest. Of this, 1.5 tonnes were donated to a symposium of 20 artists, who used it to create sculptures for the Mt. Everest-8848 Art Project I.

Pieces of art from the Mt. Everest-8848 Art Project I

Over the course of a month, the artists created 74 pieces of art from discarded trekking tools, oxygen cylinders, tents, ropes, alcohol bottles and even helicopter parts left on the mountain. Exhibitions of the pieces – priced between US$17 (£10) and US$2,400 (£1,500) – are now taking place, with the pieces currently showing at Meconopsis Hotel in Kathmandu until the end of January.

Kripa Rana Shahi, Director of Da Mind Tree, explained that the project aims to raise awareness about pollution on Everest and encourage visitors to keep the mountains clean. Speaking to CNN, artist Sushma Shakya said: "Many of the artworks reflect mountain life and mountaineering experiences. It was interesting what we came up with, and how this trash could turn into something beautiful."

The ESA has collected 10 tonnes of waste from the slopes of the world’s highest mountain over the past two years and estimates that the same amount remains on the slopes. Each Everest expedition is required to bring its waste back down off the mountain, but the organisation says the system has not been strictly implemented.

More information about the project is available on Da Mind Tree’s website.