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WED-LOGO-1Dharamshala: In the Dharamshala suburb of McLeod Ganj, where Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides, the grubby work of collecting garbage has become a catalyst for uniting its multi-cultural population. The transient nature of Dharamshala - which means resting place for travellers - and the cultural diversity of the residents here, are factors which could easily make for a disorganized and half-hearted approach to garbage disposal.

But not so in the case of McLeod Ganj where Tibetan refugees, Indian villagers and international travellers work together to lessen their collective human footprint.

At the core of this shared effort stands the Clean Upper Dharamshala Project (CUDP), an undertaking by the Tibetan Settlement Office of Dharamshala. With a pioneering waste management system, and a substantial volunteer effort, they are changing people's views on how they handle their waste.

Working closely with the Municipal Council of Dharamshala, the CUDP was established in 1994 and now runs three garbage trucks, a paper-recycling workshop, composting sites, educational programs, segregation centres, a "Green Shop" and has 37 employees.

In 2009, another project joined in as an international crew, calling themselves the Mountain Cleaners, took on the responsibility of collecting the waste from nearby trekking destination Triund and surrounding trekking paths.

In the spirit of World Environment Day on June 5, in the coming weeks The Tibet Post International will bring a series of three articles, following the dedicated people behind the growing success of McLeod Ganj's waste management system and understanding how something so simple as garbage can build bridges between cultures.

The first two articles will be exploring the inner workings of the Clean Upper Dharamshala Project and the Mountain Cleaners, while in the third and last article we will look at some of the problems they are facing as well as some possible solutions to these.

Going from the pristine mountain peak to the grubby dump site we will talk to an eclectic mix of locals and internationals and visit the area's environment hotspots. So watch this space for an interesting tour de trash!

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