The hills are alive with the sound of cleaners as thousands climb Tatras to sweep up 600kg of rubbish
Around 6,000 volunteers descended on the Tatra Mountains at the weekend to clean its trails, slopes and forests of 600kg of rubbish left by tourists.
Held on 26-27th July, the eight edition of the Clean Tatra (Czyste Tatry) initiative saw a record breaking clean up with volunteers segregating 147.7 kg of plastic, 159 kg of glass, 40.5 kg of paper, 39.5 kg of bio and 200 kg of mixed garbage.
Rafał Sonik, quad rally driver and Dakar winner, as well as the “Czyste Tatry” initiator said: “We cleaned all the peaks and trails of the Tatra Mountains - 300 km of trails and 139 peaks, as well as the surroundings of the Tatra National Park.
“What pleases us the most is the fact that the ecological awareness of tourists is increasing year by year and we observe less and less garbage left in the mountains."
This year the dates of the event were moved to July, making it a great chance to set a positive example and educate tourists on the go. Previously, “Czyste Tatry” were organized before the vacation and peak season.
“This is a poker-like ‘show of hand’. We wanted to find out how badly littered the mountains would be during the biggest tourist siege. We can state, that every time we carry out our action the trails look better,“ added Sonik.
Jan Krzeptowski-Sabała, from the Tatra National Park education department, said: “It may seem to us that one cigarette or plastic bottle won’t make a difference, but if we multiply it by 4 million tourists who visit the Tatras annually, a huge mountain of rubbish will come out of it.”
Since the initiative began in 2012, volunteers have collected five tonnes of rubbish, but the extent of littering is much higher.
Apart from the clean-up, the aim is to educate the public about the threats posed by environmental pollution.
Every year the National Park employees and other visitors gather 40-50 tons of garbage from the trails.
Most of it is made of plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down, poisoning the soil, water and air.