This is a series of journals recording my days in the Yangtze River Headwaters volunteering project. I will try to update every day but there might be delays in the days I work in the wild without the internet. I’m also trying to write bilingual if time allows. Like it? Follow my Instagram (@anar.chica.yichenguo) for updates!
7:10 in the morning, I went to patrol around the station and pick some trash.
We did a trash investigation at national road 109 before noon. This road carries 90% of all the goods transporting into Tibet, therefore there are always big trucks running on the road. The truck drivers are driving long distances and are too tired to think of the environment, therefore many of them throw trash everywhere. First, we investigate the trash condition in the range 50 meters along the road and 250 meters into the fields. It was not too bad. There were a few bottles and some small pieces of trash close to the road, other than that, there wasn’t much inside the field. While we were busy doing our job, there were pikas staring at us with curiosity and alert. This kind of cute rodent at the bottom of the food chain is flooding in the Tibetan plateau. They’ve fed many precious wild animals and their activities are beneficial for the land to change from semi-sandy land to useful earth. After investigation of this area, we started to pick up trash in the range 1 km along the road and 50 meters into the fields. Plastic bottles are the most common trash, soon they’ve filled several big bags. Many drivers couldn’t wait to find public toilets, they pee into the drank-up bottles. When we picked such bottles, we need to pour out the pee before recycling. Normally, if you see unknown yellow liquid inside the bottle, then that’s it. Most of them are 1/4 – 1/3 full, but sometimes you can also find full bottles. When they throw bottles out of the truck, they don’t usually mind where the bottles go. I picked a few right outside of pikas’ homes. Some of them have already blocked the entrance. What bothers me most is that when some people get off to answer the call of nature, they might have found the holes quite convenient therefore poo into them, follow with toilet paper covering the whole thing including the holes. Can you imagine the pikas’ feelings who live inside?
After a nap at noon, we separated the trash that we picked in the morning. Plastic bottles, iron cans, aluminum cans, metal parts are recorded and stored separately. The rest are put into the big trash bin to be transported to the landfill close by. The trash disposal ability in the Tibetan plateau is not so advanced. This little town in the center of hundreds of miles around. It is good enough to have a landfill. The recycled trash is usually transported to our Golmud station more than three hundred kilometers away by the passing tourists, empty loaded trucks and military vehicles, and then transport to the nearest trash recycling center.
The rest of the time I was on duty in the post office. There was a tourist poorly educated came to the station today. Although he is not very nice while talking to us, he doesn’t mean bad. My years of experience in the construction industry has given me the ability to handle different types of people. I’m not irritated easily and I don’t irritate him either. I patiently showed him around the exhibition area, explaining our history and vision, and even chat with him for a while, trying my best to provide some advice he needs.
Some of us didn’t have particular plans in the evening so we gathered in the post office with the lights off and chat while eating snacks. We talked about the meaning of volunteering here or even the meaning of this conservation station. In fact, what we do here is too little for the whole nature. Trash investigation cleans up this little piece of land, the trash taken away by the tourists are only a small, clean part of everything. The point of all these is mainly for spreading environmental awareness to as many people as possible. The tourists also have a sense of fulfillment when they take away some trash. At times there are social media popular account holders come here to do live shows. And for each of us, on the one hand, we’ve all made interesting friends, on the other hand, being away from old routines and experience new things can give us fresh new input and inspirations as long as we attentively observe, learn and think.