Determined to Climb Mt. Everest? You May Have to Carry Some Poop

iStock.com/hadynyah
iStock.com/hadynyah

At nearly 5.5 miles high, Mt. Everest’s peak is notoriously hard to climb. The mountain's unforgiving weather, harsh terrain, and high-altitude, low-oxygen "death zone" make it difficult and expensive to retrieve items left behind by those making an ascent. That includes waste and, more gruesomely, the bodies of more than 200 mountaineers who perished at some point along the way.

Many of the bodies end up staying on the mountain, but waste management is somewhat easier to tackle. According to Fodor’s Travel, climbers on the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest are now required to start carrying all of their waste (including the waste their bodies produce naturally). So yes, they’ll have to make room in their backpacks for poop.

These measures aren’t exactly extreme, though. Similar requirements are in place at popular climbing spots in the U.S., like Washington state’s Mt. Rainier and Yosemite’s El Capitan, where climbers have to poop in a bag and bring it back with them.

In addition, climbers without permits are now indefinitely banned from the Tibetan base camp. The lack of tourists will give a team of 200 people space to clean up the mountainside and remove trash, which has become a growing problem in recent years.

These new guidelines were announced by Ci Luo, director of the Chinese Mountaineering Association. Because Mt. Everest straddles the border between Nepal and China, each country manages its own side. About 70 percent of all climbers go through to Nepal, but the popularity of the Tibetan side is growing.

Mountaineer Adrian Ballinger, who has scaled Mt. Everest eight times, lauded the new changes. “Like many of the world's most beautiful places, Mount Everest is at risk of being loved to death,” he wrote in an opinion piece for ABC News. “Too many climbers, too much inexperience, and too many ethically questionable commercial outfitters chasing only profits have led to problems with trash, human waste, and unnecessary accidents, many of which unfairly impact mountain workers like the Sherpa, Tibetans, and other local groups.”

As for the Nepalese side, the government requires climbers to pay a $4000 waste deposit, which gets refunded when they return with at least 18 pounds of waste. By Fodor’s estimates, each person produces about 50 pounds of human waste over the course of a two-month trip.

[h/t Fodor’s Travel]

Why You Shouldn't Crush an Aluminum Can Before Recycling It

iStock.com/FotografiaBasica
iStock.com/FotografiaBasica

Participating in your local recycling program is a great first step toward reducing waste, but tossing your old containers in the right bin is just one part of the process. To make sure your recyclable goods end up where they're supposed to be, you have to treat them right. That means resisting the urge to crush your aluminum cans, according to Lifehacker.

Stomping on an empty can may seem like a logical move: A crushed can takes up less space, which should make it easier to store and recycle. But recycling centers actually have a harder time processing cans that have been flattened.

Many recycling plants sort recyclable materials by shape. Small items tend to be marked as waste and sent to the landfill (which is why it's better to leave caps on plastic bottles when you recycle them). Flat items are usually sorted with the paper and cardboard, so when a can is crushed, it may be misidentified and end up contaminating a batch of paper items.

If you want your aluminum cans to be sent to the right place, leave them in their original 3D shape when you dispose of them. That way your local recycling center will have an easier time identifying the material. But if crushing cans has become a habit, you may be able to keep doing it without creating more waste. Some municipalities use multi-stream recycling systems which are able to recycle your cans properly no matter what shape they're in. So, if you use two separate bins for your recycling and live in a multi-stream recycling area, you can probably continue crushing cans to your heart's content.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Your Balloons Are Bad for Seabirds

iStock.com/Image Source
iStock.com/Image Source

Bad news, party planners: Your balloons are killing birds. A new study spotted by Live Science reveals that these colorful decorations often end up in our oceans, where seabirds mistake them for squid and consume them.

The team of Australian researchers studied more than 1700 seabirds belonging to 51 different species. One in three of the birds had plastic in their systems. Researchers also found that the birds had a 20 percent chance of dying after ingesting a single piece of debris. Though hard plastics were consumed in greater quantities by seabirds, balloons proved to be far deadlier. Eating them is “32 times more likely to result in death than ingesting hard plastic,” researchers write in their paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Marine debris ingestion is now a globally recognized threat,” Lauren Roman, who led the study, said in a statement. “Among the birds we studied, the leading cause of death was blockage of the gastrointestinal tract, followed by infections or other complications caused by gastrointestinal obstructions.”

The study also highlighted another startling statistic: 99 percent of all seabird species are predicted to ingest marine debris by 2050. That is of great concern in Australasia, which is home to the world's highest biodiversity of seabirds. Albatross and petrel species are particularly under threat, but the exact role that debris plays in that is not fully known.

Similarly, a survey from last December found microplastics in the guts of all seven sea turtle species that were studied, including the endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill and Kemp's ridley turtles. However, these particles are smaller than balloon bits, and the consequences of ingesting microplastics are still being studied.

According to researchers, the most obvious and immediate solution is to reduce the amount of waste entering oceans.

[h/t Live Science]

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