Join the Movement: Embrace Our (Mini) Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge

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Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge

Join the Movement: Embrace Our (Mini) Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge

We’re a small company built on the principle of taking small but meaningful steps. This same approach drives our Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge, a key part of our broader Sustainable Tourism Strategy.

While we may not completely eliminate single-use plastics, we believe that small steps can make a significant impact. Our Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge focuses on five simple steps, along with a #2MinuteLitterPick. Each step targets a specific plastic product and outlines what EL is doing to help our guests reduce their plastic footprint, as well as how guests can contribute. We are also encouraging members of our EL team to participate.

As Mongolia aims to significantly expand its tourism sector to an ambitious target of one million visitors, our challenge is part of our vision for a tourism manifesto for Mongolia. This manifesto aims to protect Mongolia’s unique cultural heritage and fragile ecosystems from undue pressures.

The Steps Of Our (Mini) Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge

 

Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge | Plastic bags  Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge | Plastic bottles    Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge | Wet wipes

Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge | Toiletries

Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge | Recycling

Mini Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge | 2 minute litter pick

The Story Behind Our (Mini) Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge

Since 2014, we have organised an annual two-day cleanup of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Arkhangai Aimag, collaborating with local community members, including park rangers.

In 2019, we observed an increase in discarded wet wipes, sanitary items, and hygiene products, which mar the beauty of Mongolia’s wilderness. Improper disposal methods, like hiding waste under rocks or in tree root holes, are not acceptable. This motivated us to create our ‘Be A Changemaker’ Sustainable Tourism Strategy. We believe tourism can be a powerful force for good, but it requires the travel and tourism industry to take responsibility for its environmental impact, ensuring sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. Now is the time for change, and that’s why we developed our own Sustainable Tourism Strategy as well as our Tourism Manifesto for tourism in Mongolia.

Despite the pandemic, we continued our annual cleanup in 2020 and 2021, albeit with a smaller truck due to reduced tourism. Yet, the issue of plastic waste, particularly plastic bottles, remained significant.

Tourism significantly contributes to the millions of tons of plastic waste generated annually, much of which is non-recyclable. It is like a toxic tide and we must focus on reducing single-use plastics and shift toward environmentally sustainable products.



Instances of Plastic Pollution Found in Mongolia’s Natural Environment

Micro Plastics In Khovsgol Nuur

Although Mongolia is land-locked, the increase in single-use plastic used in tourism in the country has resulted in fragments and films of consumer plastics (including plastic bottles, fishing gear, and plastic bags) being found in Lake Khovsgol – Mongolia’s largest freshwater lake (representing 70% of Mongolia’s fresh water and 1% of the planet’s freshwater) and the core of Khovsgol Nuur National Park.

[Free, C.M., et al. High-levels of microplastic pollution in a large, remote, mountain lake. Mar. Pollut. Bull. (2014), http:// dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.06.001]

Khovsgol Nuur: A Central Focus of Our Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia Challenge

Mongolia’s Rare Saiga Antelope

Plastic waste is a threat to Mongolia’s wildlife including the saiga antelope – a rare species of the Gobi Desert. In 2018 a ranger from Mongolia’s Gobi-Altai province reported that he had found a carcass of a saiga that had eaten a plastic bag. Although the sales of plastic bags were banned in 2019, plastic bags continue to be discarded and, partly due to the scarcity of food due to the impact of climate change,  Mongolian saigas are eating plastic waste.



Plastic Free Tourism In Mongolia – Our Future Focus

As a tourism company, we are looking at the bigger picture. The continued use of disposable items adds pressure on local waste collection and recycling in Mongolia. Our focus includes minimizing or eliminating the use of:

  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic film packaging
  • Multi-pack rings for canned drinks
  • Vegetable / fruit net bags
  • PVC cling film
  • Bottle tops/caps
  • Single-use drinks bottles
  • Fruit and veg punnets/trays
  • Internal plastic trays e.g. trays used in packets of cookies or biscuits
  • Disposable cutlery, plastic plates and bowls, plastic cups, lids and stirrers * we don’t use these on tour but do sometimes purchase in Ulaanbaatar
  • Condiment or food sachets
  • Tear off tamper-evident strips on containers
  • Polystyrene packaging such as for takeaway food ordered from local restaurants
  • Plastic straws * we don’t use these on tour but sometimes a drink in a local bar comes with a plastic straw

Where single-use plastic items or packaging cannot be avoided, we’ll prioritise recyclable or compostable plastic and items with recycled content. We’ll also focus on reducing, sorting, and separating plastic waste.

Reach out to us today and discover how you can contribute to our bigger travel philosophy while experiencing Mongolia with us.

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I'm Jess Brooks, the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia and the voice behind EL's blog posts. For more than a decade, since 2006, I've been based in Mongolia, working closely with my beloved Mongolian team to advocate for a tourism approach that brings about positive change.. What sets our blog apart is our deep understanding of Mongolia—our home. Unlike content from influencers or creators, our posts prioritise authenticity and firsthand knowledge as guiding principles.
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