My name is Gembo and I am a senior guide with MyBhutan with a personal story about Bhutan’s environmental challenge. Given that I have been a cultural guide for the last 21 years, I have had the opportunity to travel and explore the length and breadth of my beautiful country. My job is the best because I credit it for having evoked a strong patriotic love. A love that I never thought existed. I feel so blessed to be one of the travel ambassadors for Bhutan.
Bhutan’s Environmental Challenge
In 1997, I decided to give up the life of a businessman and train as a guide. During this time, I realized how ignorant I had been about the abundant natural beauty of our country. My first few years as a guide made me completely in awe by how beautiful and clean Bhutan was compared to other countries.
But sadly, over the years, I have been a firsthand witness to our environmental challenge – the increasing littering issue. This issue not only exists in the urban areas but also in some our pristine mountainous regions. With the increase in tourist inflow and roads being built to our more remote villages, the garbage issue has been increasing by the day, right under our noses.
I thought that, perhaps, my efforts would inspire other guides to do the same: one day, one trail, one establishment, and one river at a time.
My Small Step, Big Impact Solution
Sensing the urgency, I started taking part in mass cleanup campaigns whenever I could. But, these event-oriented campaigns were few and completely dependent on funding. I realized I was wasting my time waiting for organized cleanups. It dawned on me that I could conduct my own cleanups whenever I was on tour. I thought that, perhaps, my efforts would inspire other guides to do the same: one day, one trail, one establishment, and one river at a time.
Maybe people don’t notice it but through my own experience, I saw what a huge difference a single individual can make.
Ever since then, I have always included a few empty rolled up sacks in my backpack whenever I go on tour. Maybe people don’t notice it, but through my own experience, I saw what a huge difference a single individual can make. Many of my clients have also requested to participate in these cleanups too.
An Everyday Habit Which Everyone Can Participate
Bhutan is one of the last remaining sovereign nations on Earth. Owing to our farsighted Kings, it still manages to retain a forest cover that is above 60% with a large part of the country still unexplored. The urban areas have their own battle with waste management as most of the major cleaning campaigns are centered only around these cities. This got me thinking. I concluded that if we are only going to concentrate on cleaning the major cities, then one day Bhutan would seem like a dirty person with a lot of make up on. Thereafter, I took it upon myself, as a true citizen of Bhutan and a loyal subject to our great rulers, to dedicate most all of my free time to clean the neglected areas of our beautiful kingdom.
With the unwavering support from MyBhutan and my colleagues Tsheten Dorji and Tshering Wangdi — who are also guides of MyBhutan — I can proudly say that we have collected tons of garbage along some of the most spectacular trails around the country. We continue to do so fervently, whenever time permits and hope that you may come visit Bhutan to see for yourself why this county is the most special place on Earth.