The gorgeous landscapes of Himachal Pradesh hide a lot of charm. It has been a favourite destination of many because of its pristine attractions and roads that lead to unique surprises.
Himachal Pradesh is diverse state, worth exploring. But sadly, the plight of over-tourism has affected it a lot. With several travel agencies, resorts, trekking companies, adventure camps operating in the state, it is obvious that the region will be overrun with tourism in the coming 5 years.
With mass tourism, the epidemic of plastic and garbage has also arrived in the state. The need to make Himachal clean and green has brought many individuals and NGOs together to keep the ecological balance the way it should be.
Often we end up facing confusions about the need to travel responsibly. If a certain way is more harmful or a certain way will end up exploiting locals despite being more Eco-friendly.
As a traveller, you too should try a better sustainable way to travel in Himachal Pradesh. I am sharing a few tips which you can ensure that the state doesn’t become a victim of pollution and global warming in the coming years.
Prefer public transport
Travelling in car is comfortable but it brings pollution and traffic jam to these tiny roads. If the idea of your travel is to make the life of locals inconvenient then you can totally go to Himachal with personal cars. But the buses that travel to various regions of Himachal Pradesh are a better and cheap way to ensure that you become part of minimal carbon footprint in the region. The tiny roads of Manali, Shimla, Mcleodganj, Kasol and Chamba are not made to accumulate so many personal vehicles. The sooner you move to private taxis and buses, the faster you’ll assure that Himachal regains its ecology to some extent.
Avoid mineral water, use thermo flask
The biggest troublemaker behind the pollution in Himachal, are the plastic mineral water bottles. The rivers provide fresh and clean water and most of the locals use them for their daily needs. You can also use the portable water purifier if you are not really interested in drinking tap water. Shops around Manali, Kasol, Mcleodganj offer water refilling in 20 rs, this way you can save a lot of money by avoiding mineral water bottles.
Choose local stay homes over resorts
Resorts and super luxury hotels have contributed a lot in growing pains of Himachal Pradesh. These establishments are owned by the outsiders who don’t contribute to the local economy. By staying in local stay homes, you’ll get a chance to observe local Himachali life, up-close. At the same time, you’ll find a chance to speak with locals on ways to avoid plastic consumption in their area.
Hostels in Himachal Pradesh are also a great way to assure ecological travel. You share common room, washrooms, and electricity points so there is less consumption of resources compared to hotels.
Don’t camp everywhere
Camping should be done responsibly. It should be your duty to make sure that the place where you are planning to pitch your tent is not a protected or ecologically sensitive zone. Also, you can ask a local to let you pitch a tent in their farm or outer compound outside their home.
Try bringing bottles from higher altitudes
I understand that this is next to impossible, but if you want to try then all you need to do is pick up two or three bottles and fill them in your rucksack. Imagine if every teammate does the same, and those who follow you copy your actions, the higher altitudes of Himachal Pradesh will be free of plastic pollution in no time.
Volunteer for a weekend
I understand that your idea of travelling is exploring and enjoying with your friend. But volunteering at an NGO that works in maintaining ecological balance and cleaning the garbage off the trails can be something worth enjoying too. NGOs like Waste Warriors, Healing Himalayas and many similar ones need volunteers and you can contact them for their next cleaning program.
Why should you care about Himachal Pradesh’s sustainability
Small steps can lead to a big change. Your contribution in Himachal Pradesh’s sustainability will help both, the people from the mountains as well as the plains. If Himachal Pradesh comes under the plight of global warming, issues like irregular rainfall, less or no snow and lack of water in rivers will arise more frequently. Recently Shimla saw similar issue when the city ran out of water.
Once the hills run out of water, the plains will be the next to suffer. Temperature rise will be uncontrollable and lack of rain will make things worse.
If Himachal Pradesh doesn’t remain the way it is till today, where will you go to escape the heat of the plains? It is a better idea to change your travel preferences and start travelling in a much more responsible way.