Life with Waste Warriors and a Neverending Battle against Plastic Pollution

I learned about the existence of Mcleodganj in 2014. A quaint, peaceful place with hardly any human in sight, Mcleodganj was a sort of a place where you’ll vanish for a few months and then emerged as a new person. I spent a few days during my first vacation and then returned within a few months. A transition between the vibe of the same place introduced me to a touristy Mcleodganj that was somewhere in between its battle against upcoming over-tourism and plastic pollution.


I came to learn about Waste Warriors during my second visit and went on a cleanup drive with them. We climbed the Triund trekking trail, a fairly new and lesser know trekking destination littered with plastic bottles, maggi packets, beer cans and frooti packets thrown carelessly. Cleaning that trail was a fun, learning experience but it was just an introduction to the bigger picture.

I returned from the cleanup drive, spoke with a few travellers and some friends trying to convey the message of a plastic free life while travelling and in general made me feel optimistic that Mcleodganj will be free from this evil in the coming years.

I kept coming year after year, trying to help them out in whatever way I could until I left my job in 2017 and saw what was become of this place despite so many efforts.

In 2017, we went for a cleanup in Bhagsu Nag Waterfall, we came back with 110 kgs of waste. We had carefully segregated all the waste on the move. I ended up with a huge bag of empty bottles and it became a walk of a lifetime to reach the office and deposit all the garbage.


Nothing changed in the coming years. In 2019, the quantity of waste has increased. During the cleanup drives in the same area, the amount of waste has now increased to 210 kgs and the problem doesn’t seem to be ending.

Volunteering experience in 2019


Volunteering in India doesn’t have a lot of options. Most of the NGOs in hills and even cities have plans keeping in mind that either the backpackers from abroad will be interested in working here or for the Indians who need a place for internship experience while pursuing their graduations. The fee for volunteering in India ranges between INR 400 to 1000 per day depending on the region. This fee is collected for the daily cost of stay and food.

Compared to this, Waste Warriors have a simple plan that is ideal for volunteering from every walk of life. The volunteers are free to join during one of the cleanup drives that are organized on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. The stay is needed to be arranged by the person volunteering.



Apart from field work, Waste Warriors has different requirements for volunteer work. One can join the organization to create artworks, street art projects and awareness campaign. If you are a writer and belong to content writing background then it would make sense to handle social media updates, project reports and newsletters.

New challenges and issues with ongoing projects


World changed a lot in 2019. More people are aware about the problems that hills are facing but not many find a way to actively support the cause. The last few projects have seen mixed response but worked in favour of bringing a change on smaller level. 2019 has seen some of the campaigns meeting positive conclusions, the important ones include –


  • No straws campaign under which more than 40 cafes around Dharamshala, Mcleodganj and Bhagsu have switched to metal straws, paper straws or no straws.
  • Taxi association awareness campaign also met with positive response as many taxi drivers are now using information brochures on the backseat of their cabs in order to inform the tourists about harms of plastic usage and irresponsible dumping of the waste.
  • More dustbins have been installed in the routes of Triund and Bhagsu
  • We also created some wall murals to raise awareness
  • Upcoming campaigns will also see Waste Warriors move beyond Mcleodganj and go to Sidhpur and Bir.


But despite this, the problems seem to be increasing so it is on the visitors who are coming to Mcleodganj be a part of this effort on their own terms.

In the last 5 years, the temperature of Dharamshala has increased. It used to be cold enough to sport a sweatshirt in the months of April and May but now it has gone high and a t-shirt is enough to walk around in the afternoon.


Worse than Mcleodganj, Triund trekking trail has worsened in terms of garbage accumulation. Continuous cleanup drives have resolved the issues and now when camping is banned, the problem may come down in the coming few months.

How can you contribute?


As a visitor to this quaint, pristine destination, you can be a part of change in some easy ways.

  • Mcleodganj, or any hill station in India is a uphill terrain with very narrow roads. Tourists forcefully take their vehicles to Bhagsu Nag and Dharamkot. By parking your cars in Dharamshala and using private taxis or buses to commute around Mcleodganj, you can help us sort the issue of traffic jam in the city.
  • Our no straws campaign has encouraged many cafés to switch to metal and paper straws. You can support them by visiting these places and supporting our cause.
  • Avoid buying plastic bottles in hills and carry a refillable one. There are a number of shops from where you can refill your bottles and stop yourself from being a cause of littering.
  • Speak with homestay owners and hotels about this issue so that the awareness spreads on personal level.

Travel responsibly, plastic and non recyclable garbage need reduction and it can only be resolved through personal measures.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. clmuileboom

    Wow!! Your are an amazing human. Thank you for taking part of this wonderful group. If only more people cared about the environment. 🙁 We are so wasteful, and sadly it’s the earth that has to suffer.

  2. Jaana McEntee

    Plastic is horrible & destructive, I don’t understand why people still produce & consume it..Like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol..

  3. We recently did away with plastic water bottles to a minimum and now started using the reusable water bottle that can keep cool for an extended period of time. I love the bottle and bring it everywhere I go now.

  4. Unta

    This topic is so needed these days, I wish more people were aware of plastic pollution. You are doing an awesome job.

  5. This is such an important thing. We are not really aware of what we are doing to our planet earth. Mcleodganj looks like an amazing city. You are doing a truly awesome job. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. sn1463

    The Waste Warriors are doing God’s work! It can feel totally pointless sometimes but I commend them for doing the right thing and fighting against pollution.

  7. You, Me and Benny

    oh wow – this is a really great thing to discuss and get the word out on ! Pollution of any kind is awful and I’m glad you’re a part of helping!

  8. Polly Amora

    As someone who is an advocate of Leave No Trace, I support this to the nth. I find it really annoying when people are irresponsible (and freakin’ lazy) when it comes to disposing their trash. Whenever I climb mountains I always bring with me a trash bag to pick up rubbish and properly dispose when when I climb back down. Most of what I picked up were empty plastic bottles. It pissed me off so much. I totally support no straws campaigns – its a good start. And I think it should be implemented around the world.

  9. clmuileboom

    You are doing a great thing!! If only more people cared about the environment these days. It’s awesome that you are writing this aswell. You making people aware , may not help much, but it’s still helping a little bit. Your amazing, keep it up.

  10. amayszingblogs

    People nowadays are lack of discipline when regards to protect the environment. recycling plastic bottles and proper disposal of human waste is the key to clean our environment I love this advocate kudos!

  11. Neil Alvin Nicerio

    I’m happy that our city already passes several ordinances about banning the use of single plastics. I hope other cities follow.

  12. TheKitchenDoc

    Waste warriors are doing an awesome job…plastic is the bane of topday’s society

  13. clydequin93

    Every individual should be reminded with this. I salute these people who are advocates and who battle against plastic pollution.

  14. onehoppymomma

    So glad you are bringing awareness to this. Reduce should be the goal!

  15. Laithan

    The world is really taking this seriously, and its great seeing this happening all around the world! Let’s end our use of single use plastics!

  16. Laithan

    I love seeing how the world is starting to take this seriously! We need to stop our use of the single use plastics.

  17. Ryan K Biddulph

    Awesome work guys! People are being aware of this waste problem all over the globe. More folks toss rubbish in the trash. Things are improving.


  18. Suanlian Tangpua

    Great campaign! Keep up the good work!

  19. infusionistaadmin

    awesome work.

  20. Catherine

    Thanks for all the work you’re doing, especially in educating others about plastic pollution. It’s such a huge issue worldwide and we all need to do our part to try to make our planet a cleaner place.

  21. Two’s company

    I am sorry to hear that the waste has increased so drastically over the last few years, although it sounds like you and the rest of the volunteers are doing an amazing job! It’s really useful to know all the various ways that people can help and volunteer to this cause!

  22. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Waste Warriors are doing such a commendable job. In India, many of our pristine places are being ravaged by the ills of over-tourism. A sustained effort by all stakeholders combined with a feeling of responsibility by every tourist is the need of the hour.

  23. Travel with Mei and Kerstin

    We’ve never heard ot the Waste Warriors, but from what you say here they’re really doing a great job! And you should be very proud to have helped them by volunteering year after year!

  24. Court

    Thanks for sharing about your experience with Waste Warriors! I love the idea of volunteering for a day when traveling if possible!

  25. Giulia Turchetti

    This is a great cause to contribute to. In general, I think if we all made small efforts to reduce our plastic consumption (like using refillable water bottles instead of plastic for instance), we could collectively have a better impact and avoid generating so much waste.

  26. josypheen

    Goodness, it honestly blows my mind that people could even consider dropping rubbish in such a pristine area, let alone the amount of rubbish you guys collected. That is mad.

    It does seem like the world is slowly waking up to the idea that we all need to consume less plastic, but it can be so hard to do this when almost everything we buy has a plastic wrapper. I tried to go plastic free in 2020, but it has not been easy, especially with covid-19 as we can often not use our recycled bags in the supermarkets now.

    Anyway, great work with the Waste Warriors! I really hope it will start to improve for you. Somehow you’ll need to get all visitors to the area to learn about leave no trace principles!