China / Society

Hikers pick up garbage for Earth Day

( Updated: 2014-04-22 23:28

On April 20, a group of volunteers came together at the Huanghuacheng Great Wall in Huairou district of Beijing to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up trash.

The section of the Great Wall is about 70 km north of Beijing and can be reached from a trail that starts in Zhuangdaokou village.

Arriving at the village at around 11 am, the group began the cleanup right away. Equipped with trash bags and plastic gloves, the volunteers picked up plastic bottles, cigarette butts and fruit peels scattered along the trail.

Volunteers hailed from all over the world, including China, the United States, Germany and Britain.

The Earth Day cleanup trip has been organized by the Beijing Hikers hiking club every April since 2009.

"We have come here several times before and noticed that the buildup of trash has spoiled the scenery," said Hayden Opie, the leader of the cleanup trip. "When you go hiking you want to see nature, and the rubbish around there does not give the same kind of feeling."

Lu Yao, an office worker at a French logistic company who attended last year's trip, brought her friend and colleague Zhu Qing this time.

"I prefer going outdoors over staying in the office," said Zhu. "And doing this kind of good deed, makes me feel more like my true self."

Meike Benker, an intern at a German company in Beijing, brought her father, who was visiting her, along on the trip.

"I think this is more meaningful than just hiking," she said. "My father hasn't seen the Great Wall, so I combined sightseeing and volunteering for him."

The volunteers' efforts influenced about a dozen of tourists and villagers to join in the activity as they neared the Great Wall.

The villagers helped to pick up garbage and took away full trash bags as they left.

"Don't worry. We will dump them at the waste site in our villages." said one villager. "We live close by, and we will try to keep the site clean, as it should be."

After two and half hours, volunteers finished cleaning up the area and climbed onto the Great Wall to eat lunch and bask in the sunshine.

Millicent Thape, another hike leader from Beijing Hikers, highlighted the activity as a way to raise awareness of the effect littering has on the environment.

"Back in the 1960s and 70s, the national parks in the US were like this, but now they are super clean," said. "It is very important to teach people to not careless throw their trash away."

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