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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Another edition of the Tatra Mountains clean-up campaign has started. Year by year, the bags are getting lighter and there are fewer of them

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The Great Cleanup of the Tatras – volunteers on the trails who will pick up everything that tourists have left behind. This is the 13th edition of this campaign in Podhale. When they started, the Tatra National Park was visited by two and a half million tourists, now almost five million, and the garbage on the trails – as the organizers calculate – is 20 times less.

This time, not only comfortable shoes were useful on the trail, but also gloves and garbage bags. They collect everything that should have been thrown in the bin but didn't. Although you can get a fine of 50 to 500 PLN for littering the Tatras, the fines don't always deter tourists.

– He'll drink it, he'll already have a light can, he won't put it in his backpack, he'll just throw it away, it's hard to understand – comments Mr. Robert, a volunteer of the “Clean Tatras” campaign. – I don't know what people have in their heads – agrees Mrs. Maja, a volunteer of the “Clean Tatras” campaign. – We always collect and will always collect. We always take it with us and throw it in the bin – she adds.

They had to cover several dozen routes, easier ones in the valleys and more difficult ones, such as the one to Kasprowy Wierch, because, unfortunately, there will also be something that a tourist should never leave behind in the mountains.

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– They do it like this [pan Rafał zgniata butelkę – red.] and with great difficulty they push it somewhere under a boulder, a dwarf pine, or a tree's roots, thinking that the problem is solved, but at this moment it begins – says Rafał Sonik, founder of the Czysta Polska Association from the “Czyste Tatry” campaign.

This is a threat primarily to animals, because people in the Tatra National Park are only guests. – Garbage has a lot of smells, it is something unnatural, so these wild animals, well, just eat this garbage. This often leads to the consequences of these animals becoming seriously ill – points out the mayor of Zakopane, Łukasz Filipowicz.

READ ALSO: Cans and bottles, but also bumpers and tires. Volunteers clean up the Tatras

“Clean Tatras” campaign. They even find car parts in the mountainsTVN24

“It's much much better”

Fortunately, the bags are getting lighter and there are fewer of them than 13 years ago, when they first started cleaning the Tatra Mountains. – What has happened over these 13 years is a gigantic improvement, let's ask ourselves: what? Level of awareness! – says Rafał Sonik.

They do not want the mountains to be obscured by a mountain of garbage. In 12 editions of the “Clean Tatras” campaign, over 40 thousand volunteers took part, bringing over seven and a half tons of garbage from the mountains. Even when it was windy and rainy, they did not give up.

– We don't have TVs anymore, and they were in the Tatras. Even car rims could be found in the Tatra streams – recalls Rafał Sonik. – I think this is a huge success of this campaign. During the first edition, these bags were overflowing, several bags for each person – says Łukasz Filipowicz.

Now it's hard to fill even one. – It's much, much better – says Mrs. Maja. – This is heaven and earth, but there is still much, much work – says Mr. Korneliusz, a volunteer of the “Clean Tatras” campaign.

When they started, the Tatra National Park was visited by two and a half million tourists, now it is almost five million, and according to the organizers, there is 20 times less rubbish on the trails.

– Our task now, and this is mainly the purpose of the “Clean Tatras” project, is to show an example of not littering in other places in Poland and in nature in general – says Rafał Sonik.

Clean-up also on the Baltic Sea

That is why the “Czysta Polska” Association has been cleaning up the Baltic Sea for several years. Because what we leave on the shore will not disappear – sooner or later it will be taken by the sea. More than eight million tons of plastic end up in the seas and oceans every year.

– What is the point of creating a dump and then spending holidays there, it is harmful in every respect – emphasizes Rafał Sonik.

It is up to each of us what views we want to admire in the Tatra Mountains during our holidays. The choice is obvious. Better not to litter.

Main image source: TVN24

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