The Happiness Quotient

#90 - Mount Everest is a Mess! An Investigation Into The Garbage and Human Waste Problem on Everest (PS, It's Getting Fixed)

July 23, 2021 Thom Pollard Episode 90
The Happiness Quotient
#90 - Mount Everest is a Mess! An Investigation Into The Garbage and Human Waste Problem on Everest (PS, It's Getting Fixed)
Show Notes Transcript

I recently hosted a live streaming event for the Musa Masala organization, who in their multiple capacities of forwarding safe and ethical mountain travel are raising money for the Wongchu Memorial Hospital….a good cause indeed. 

Our event talked about the garbage and human waste problem on Everest and the KHUMBU region - if you look for episode #87 of this podcast you’ll remember my interview with Peter Hillary about the current situation on Everest….he gives us a good picture of the Khumbu region but not so much of a good picture on the mountain, Everest, itself. 

Many of you have I’m sure heard has been referred to as the HIGHEST GARBAGE DUMP ON THE PLANET.   It’s shocking image for someone who has not visited there to conjure up the idea of Everest, the unknown frontier, the far reaches of our planet, being tarnished by overuse and carelessness at the hands of those who come there seeking adventure and, let’s face, ego gratification. 


In this episode I’m going to share some short segments of interviews taken from the show itself…...which will link in the show notes if you would like to watch it on YouTube

IMPORTANT LINKS

Donate to Musa Masala:
https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/musam...

Shop with Us to support our ongoing work:
https://musamasala.com/the-musa-store/

Visit the GoFundMe Page in honor of our friend, Gary McLean. All funds raised will go to the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital and the Musa Masala Nursing Scholorship Program, projects Gary was actively involved in. Contribute here:
https://gofund.me/3017e2cd


GUESTS:

Peter Hillary:
     http://peterhillary.com

David Liaño Gonzalez - 7-time submitter of Mount Everest
     http://www.davidliano.com

Yangji Doma Sherpa - of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee
     https://www.spcc.org.np

Damian Benegas - Benga's Brothers Expedtions
     https://benegasbrothers.com

Dan Mazur - Summit Climb owner and board of the Everest Biogas Project
     https://www.mteverestbiogasproject.org

Diana Yousef - founder and CEO of change:Water Labs
     http://www.change-water.com



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I'd like to thank Oliver and Chris Wood, Jano Ricks and The Wood Brothers management, as well as their publicist Kevin Calabro for granting us the rights to use HAPPINESS JONES for our theme music. We are deeply honored. 

Find The Wood Brothers at: 
https://www.thewoodbros.com/

The Wood Brothers on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTvWKQovDZlLceuct1EEMMQ

Happiness Jones video can be seen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKIoiVWwF5A

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Thom Pollard:

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Thom Pollard:

coming to you today from the campus of Yale University, where I am attending an event this weekend. If you detect a slight difference in the audio quality or characteristics, it's because I'm recording right into my iPhone today. So thank you for the slight change in the normal, high quality of sound that you are used to. We will get back to that in the middle of this program that was recorded in my studio. I recently hosted a live streaming event for the Moosa massala organization who in their multiple capacities of forwarding safe and ethical mountain travel, or raising money for the Wang Shu Memorial Hospital. It's a hospital in a remote area of the Khumbu region of Nepal. It's a very good cause, indeed and underserved area, and the hospital is most needed by the people there. Our event covered the garbage and human waste problem on Everest and the Khumbu region at large. If you look for Episode Number 87 of this podcast, you'll remember my interview with Peter Hillary about the current situation there. He gives us a good picture of the Khumbu region, but not so much of a good picture on the mountain Everest itself. Many of you have, I'm sure heard that Everest has been referred to as the highest garbage dump on the planet. A shocking image for anyone who has not visited there would be to conjure up the idea of Everest, the unknown and unexplored frontier, the far reaches of our planet, being tarnished by overuse and carelessness at the hands of those who come there seeking adventure. And let's face it, ego gratification, the term highest garbage dump on the planet, isn't altogether untrue. And in this episode, I'm going to share some short segments of interviews taken from that show itself, it will give you a broad understanding of the vast amount of garbage and human waste that is now on Everest, and not getting much better. With 1300 people in base camp last year, the situation isn't changing, perhaps even growing more crowded, and the situation that much more dire. Here's my report on the situation on Mount Everest. In 1953, when the British in their successful first ascent arrived, Mount Everest was one of the loneliest places on earth, the thought of 1300 people living in Basecamp. Each spring, during the peak of climbing season would have been thought of as some weird attempt at humor, not what is now a modern day fact at the world's highest peak. Those early expeditions that came to climb on Everest, the best information we can receive shows that they didn't do things much differently than the way they did things at home, trash was burned. On on Everest, the human waste was was dumped or into crevasses along with other biodegradable or there were latrines, dug and then covered over when they were filled. Everest being so remote and isolated. I don't think anyone back then could have imagined that it would ever have been a problem that there would be too much garbage or too much human waste. higher up on the mountain things weren't a lot different, maybe even a little bit worse, thanks to long conversations with my mentor Bradford Washburn some years ago, he told me about abandoned camps of the 1952 Swiss and the 53 British expeditions. At the time when they abandon those camps. They probably figured no one would ever go there again. And it didn't even matter tense Food canisters, fuel canisters, sleeping bags, oxygen bottles, backpack frames, you name it, everything was left up there. And they've been blown away by the wind and some things are still washing out down below at base camp from some of the middle section camps from early expeditions. With the coming of more expeditions also came more and more trackers into the Everest region. Each year now over 100,000 people visit the Khumbu region or the Everest region, many of them trekking all the way up to Everest base camp, putting an immense amount of pressure on the resources there. When I first visited Everest in 1995, I can remember taking photos and video of monks from the 10 bow che monastery coming back from the forest with loads of wood on their backs to burn to use as fuel in the kitchen or for warmth, and that no longer takes place. And with the trekkers also really came a higher level of prosperity for the Sherpa living in the region. But it also came a lot more garbage the toilet paper trail as it was called, and more beer cans more soda bottles, more uneaten food, more wood taken from the forest to help cook the meals for those trackers. And thanks to the efforts of the Himalayan trust started by Sir Edmund Hillary back in the early 1960s. The Khumbu region has seen immense changes reforestation projects, the building of schools, education, you can imagine that growing up with Sir Edmund Hillary as your dad must have been a pretty amazing thing, the being visiting the Everest region back in the day, the early 60s, the that region made Sir Edmund Hillary famous and then he devoted the rest of his life, giving back his son, Peter, Hillary, with whom I had a conversation talks passionately about his early experiences growing up there, and the changes for the better that he's seen in recent years in the last couple of decades, keeping the Khumbu region clean. Here's a bit of my conversation with Peter about the situation there in the Khumbu Valley and on Everest itself. It's a good thing, the people have benefited greatly from this infusion of outsiders and how is how is the environment there? I my my gut guess is that it might be better in some ways, more trees more, you know, reforestation. They don't cut trees down to burn, things like that. But in in the Everest Khumbu region is what's the state there? Is it really the highest garbage dump in the world that outsiders seem to say? Yeah, look, I think the the garbage dump stories really had got wildly overstated. I mean, certainly there was a period on the outskirts of villages or up near the base camp, there was rubbish lying around.

Peter HIllary:

That is true. But there has been cleaned up very, very substantially. It was cleaned up initially by foreign groups. I know my old friend, Brett Bishop from Seattle had a group who went up there and removed a lot of rubbish from Basecamp. And up from higher up on the mountain, there have been a number of efforts along those lines. But now the sagarmatha pollution control committee based in knrg desire, obviously, the local people run this, and they've set up rubbish collection sites along the trails, they clear these. So they are developing the infrastructure. So it really is not too much of a problem anymore. I mean, obviously, more needs to be done. It needs to be done in all of our cities, too. But I think a lot of that has been well addressed. There's a continuing problem up on the mountain, and I think, really on Mount Everest, they need to take some of the bold steps that were taken, for example, on Denali. And the National Park Service came in with what base when I when I went there, they said look, we admit this is a very simple solution. You collect your own business, a little bag and you dispose of it only in the place that we say you can, but it really works and I was delighted when I was up there on their amazing Alaskan mountain to find an absolutely pristine. Now Denali did have the same human waste pollution issues that ever stood. I mean, there are something like 1500 people climb the mountain each year. So simple mathematics tells you it could have been pretty nasty.But these days, it really it's fantastic. And, you know, the result is wonderful. But this needs to happen in Nepal, it's perhaps a little more challenging because there are cultural issues. So that's a challenge.

Thom Pollard:

I read an article recently a blog actually by an adventurer mountain near Stefan nessler. And he was writing about our next guest, David Leon yoke Gonzalez a seven time submitter of Mount Everest from both sides, he has summited, and a lifelong devoted to stretching the boundaries of human endeavor in sports and adventure. And David, for his more than a decade of climbing on Everest, has always been devoted to carrying out whatever he brought in, and that includes bringing out in bags his own human waste. He's been a part of eco Everest expeditions for over 10 years, and has been fully committed to keeping the mountains, Everest, and the areas where he travels clean. David and his Everest teams have brought down more than 10 tons of trash. And in the blog post, he said I tried to leave the mountains cleaner than I found it. But with so many people, no oversight and no mountain ethics. The problem is out of control. Most summit aspirants don't even care about Everest, says David, they only climb Everest to get a photo at the summit and posted on social media. That's it no respect for them. It's irrelevant if the mountain is a garbage dump, or if they litter it while they are there. David is stunned that in more recent years, even the Sherpa are known to pollute the high camps. And he said it at one time was known as a sacred mountain. But that has changed and he doesn't blame them in any regard. But he says that everybody is guilty of it. Here's a conversation I had very recently with David about his experiences there, and his shock at how bad the problem has become. And he also has some pretty straightforward and important ideas on how to fix the problem. Radical Some might say absolutely necessary in his outspoken opinion. This is my conversation with David Leon yo Gonzalez

David Liao Gonzales:

In 2018. I I spent the the beginning of the climbing season in continue but I was I was trying to climb there so I hiked in a did all my climatization and that year I had the plan of climbing the four highest peaks in the world the same year. People had been summiting Everest for about a week. By the time I got there. And so this was late in the season. I don't I don't remember exactly which day i was i was i was on the summit, but almost everyone was off of the mountain. So I got to see for the first time how the mountain looked after everyone had left. And it was shocking shocking shocking. Not only the the South Col but Camp 2 was an absolute mess. I mean the obviously torrent ads and the gas canisters that you see broken a tent poles but bags and bags of poo. But we at least I always took down my own bags in It was shocking to see again to just those bags left over everywhere. Completely defeating the point of of bringing it down human waste know it because it's not only out there but it's inside a bag that is not biodegradable. It's going to be there for hundreds of years. In shiny bag. It was a mess. But even going up Camp Three you would see the spots where cats had been and but there's a lot of stuff that is left behind up there a food a just genera ljunk No. A the most shocking part was definitely the South Col, which it was just I mean, just having the logos of the tent cut out, you cannot identify who's who that belong to. Those tents were not destroyed perfectly fine. They just didn't want to carry them down.

Thom Pollard:

That's Thank you. That's really, really helpful to hear that and the backstory of it and how you kind of came to this realization? And and I totally understand that one of the things you're saying is that, that if it if it wasn't for all the outside people, the Sherpa wouldn't be up there in the first place. But everybody, I think what you're saying is everybody should be held accountable equally. And that especially almost maybe even more so goes to the expedition organizers, and or the operators could could you kind of tell me again about some ideas you had about the idea of maybe finding people or remote revoking permits for organizer organizers to operate on the mountain, just kind of a, you know, maybe a penalty system or an or a reward system? consequently, as well,

David Liao Gonzales:

Right, see, for example, one one idea that I had is you in many mountains, you have designated a camping areas, I think for the for the big companies, you can you can say that there's so much money involved in Everest expeditions, that it would be possible to have someone out there actually designating areas for camps for each of the companies. Now. I know that many times they just run up there. Now they even leave caches up there, which was not allowed. Until think 2015 when they started leaving stuff up there. I just having people be accountable for that area that they're occupying. A, you could do the same gantry you could do the same in the South Col. And yeah, it for independent climbers, you could have a different area in and have somebody up there actually check that each company is, is leaving that area as clean as when they occupied it at the beginning. Now that doesn't solve the problem, but they could just be grabbing the leftover junk and throwing it in a crevasse. But you have to start somewhere. No, I think that that's something that you can do. But I also I think making a foreign companies accountable, at least at least a shaming them publicly. I've also been in the Chinese side of the mountain. I've climbed successfully once. I've been there two other times when I was trying to do the double summit, a trash is not a problem in the Chinese side. So why is it a problem in Nepal, it's not a problem in China, because they're extremely strict.

Thom Pollard:

I personally agree with David about imposing harsh fines or bans on companies, or individuals who litter and leave their waste up high on the mountain. And he went so far as to name some of the very well known companies, one American company in particular. But this isn't about pointing fingers this particular program that's for a different time and a place. But but in talking about it, it's a path toward solving the problem pointing that finger and perhaps publicly calling out these companies in a different venue might be the only way to change that without banning them from the mountain. So I just have to say removing one's own self from high camp from 26,000 feet or, or 1000 meters up in the death zone. It is a huge endeavor, it is not easy to even walk around up there. But there are so many resources and wealthy individuals who come to Mount Everest every year that there has to be a way to start managing this problem. And and and to publicly point fingers at those who are violating it. purposefully at least there are many efforts to make changes on the mountain some that are working very very well and at base camp. If one were to ever take part in a mountaineering expedition to Mount Everest, they would quickly become familiar with the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee or known as the SPCC, it's an oversight and management organization to manage garbage and human waste not only on the mountain, but throughout the Khumbu region and I earlier I showed you some photographs of waste bins on the trails and and pick up resources and efforts that take place throughout the Khumbu Valley to manage the garbage and the litter there. I interviewed a representative from the NSPCC recently, Ms. yangdi DOMA, she Sherpa of the SBCC. And she discussed their efforts on Everest in the Khumbu region on the tracking trails, and how they are endeavoring to protect the region from the growing crowds now and into the future. It's a it's an upbeat conversation progress is being made. Here's my conversation with Yangdi Doma Sherpa.

Yangdi Doma Sherpa:

Well, like, like forever, like almost like 25 years now we have our focus has been on waste management. And as you have already aware that the main reason why these spcc was formed because it was because there was no such rules exist at that time. And that that's why the organism came to address those issues. And since then, we have been working in the waste management. And so I would like many when we divide our our work will be focused on like base camp of the mountains. And then tracking trails and settlements are usually explained that way, that's much easier, because those are the main thematic areas, the areas that we focus on. So we are an NGO based in solely in Kambou. And we work in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, and Nipa mountaineering Association. And as you're aware, in the mountains, they are you are required to have their refundable garbage deposit each climber is equal to that deposit with the Ministry of Tourism and nama. How much is that? Maybe for like? I think it's $4,000. Yeah. So and then the peaks around 350, something like that, like I kinda it's different for the different mountains. Yeah, so but the deposit is with the Nepal monitoring Association, or Ministry of Tourism when they issue the permit. So it, it doesn't come to us. So it hasn't to do with us. The rule is that at the base camp, you're supposed to keep all your garbage with it. And then at our office, they are supposed to submit all the garbage is they created, so at Everest base camp for sure, like we have our one office, and then people stay there for almost like two, three months. And then at Everest Base camp, it's quite effective, because there is a monitoring thing, it just right there. So the more and more challenges that we face right now is like above the base camp, we felt that there are a lot of garbages, you know, in the old garbages still left on the mountain from like many years before, there are still people saying that they are still seeing and in the dead bodies. So that's why in 2019, we also initiated the Everest cleanup campaign. So it's a it's a it's a joint collaboration. So in 2019, SPCC took the lead to bring all the stakeholders the, you know, local level government, central level government, and then other NGOs, I NGOs department, we project together we work with the Nepal army. And we did the first campaign in 2019. And we collected around 10 tonnes of waste and four dead bodies on in 2019 and 2020. There is no averaged Yeah, there was no expedition because of pandemic and 2021 day Nepal are meeting with other partners, they took the lead and they did it. So I'm not sure like the exact amount of how much they collected but I'm sure it will be like 10 tons and several dead bodies. So I think this we believe that it should be done continuously for at least four or five years because you know it's conducting a cleanup campaign one set in the Mount Airy is not possible to get all the garbage down. You know, the weather is the way the problem is there. Sometimes the you know, snowfall coverage and sometimes the melting and sometimes the old garbage coming out again and again.

Thom Pollard:

I had an opportunity to speak with one of the more respected guides and expedition operators in the business. Damien Benet Agus, he is the brother of Willie Banegas. If you've been in the mountains or been on Everest, or been on Aconcagua or Denali, or many of the mountains around the world, you have heard of them. They are of the bananas brothers expeditions. And Damien was really interested in speaking about what the problem really is over there.

Damian Benegas:

Everest is a natural resource for Nepal. And we have to accept that that's their natural resource in Nepal is not a country who had the same value that Denali has. That is the only only 200 people can go up. You know. So

Thom Pollard:

I want the truth told, but I don't want to point at anybody. But But

Damian Benegas:

okay, I know the truth.

Thom Pollard:

Give it to me

Damian Benegas:

as a as an industry thing, the evolution of the change to the industry.Okay, so if you're a small company, and your clients have to sit on standards of knowledge, and strength and whatever I need two staff, for every few clients, as the quality of the clients diminish, I need more stuff to support those clients. Because clients always online, they cannot unclip a clip of whatever. So now I have a lot more support for that person to go up and down. So then they say, Okay, hold on a second, I have 100 clients going up and down. You know, and then I need from those states, I need at least 50 people to babysit these people. I don't have enough resources to carry garbage down. It's cheaper to cut the logo of a tent lever there than to carry the tag down. Because I need to have the human main power to help the people down. So garbage, all that stuff. But back to second guard. So that stander of of guiding, that's how we become value instead of quality that's a direct correlation to garbage. And I remember the companies with Asian clients who they pick up the tent, and they left the cups everything, the garbage right there, they don't care. Because the responsibility is like Thom, if you go up and you guys, your staff, drops garbage, you go, Hey guys, how about this, we got to carry this down. Because also you represent validity as a client to keep the mountain clean and for you to be, Hey, hold on a second, I'm going with this company. And this company is not cleaning the mountain, you know. So everyone responsible - think in the mechanics of the industry is such now that there are no human resources available on the company to look after themselves. And a that started 5, 6 years ago, that's when it started.

Thom Pollard:

Damian and I talked for about 45 minutes. And one of the things he told me is that he and his brother and their company will no longer be guiding on Everest in the pre monsoon season in the spring. And we'll only be guiding post monsoon he says because he doesn't want to put himself and his clients at the greatest risk of having the other people be the greatest danger on the mountain, as opposed to Everest itself being the one objective that we need to keep and pay attention to. There are over 120 garbage bins throughout the Khumbu as well as several public toilets installed. And one of their current major efforts is to take care of the human waste that is collected at Everest base camp. At the present time the waste is carried in large 50 or 60 gallon blue drums on the backs of porters to the village nearby village of Gorak Shep which is for a normal person is a couple maybe three hour mellow walk away and they are dumped into holes and after those holes are filled up, they get covered up. It's a growing problem obviously and our next guest Dan maser has been on Everest as an expedition leader and guide for more than 20 years and has taken a personal interest and taken it upon himself to help and try to fix and solve the problem of human waste on Everest. Dan tells me that each season there are 12 tonnes, nearly 26,000 pounds or 12,000 kg of human waste removed from base camp and carried in those large blue drums to gorakshep dumped there. And how many more years can this go on with 1300 people last year in Everest base camp, it can only go so far since that waste isn't really biodegrading. It's very cold there most of the year. It's something that's going to fill up and has to be solved in some way. Somehow Dan, and a group of concerned climbers and trekkers have started the Everest bio gas project, a facility that would literally convert the human waste into usable gas for fuel. And then that would be provided to the many Sherpa who stay and the porters who stay in Gorak Shep in a in a in a, if you will kind of a lodge that was built just for them. Here's my interview with Dan Mazur about his efforts to try and solve the human waste problem on Mount Everest. Give us an idea if somebody is listening to this.what's what's the environmental situation on Mount Everest? Today as we know it,

Dan Mazur:

Base camp is big, you know, to accommodate 1300 people, it's going to be huge, and there's going to be a lot of toilets there. I hung out with the human waste porters for a whole week this year and took a lot of photos and talk to them quite a bit. And there was, um, I think nine guys looked like that carried waist down. They told me they made 200 trips200 drums, and each drum the average weight of a drum is like 60 kilos. So that's about 12,000 kilos of human waste they carried out of there this year, they just carried down. They filled up all the available holes, they've been doing it for years, they started taking the human waste off the glacier, I forget what year that was, I can find out but I think it was in the mid 2000s or something like that 2005 or something like that. And then they were just digging holes on the side of the glacier, right by put under pumori. But they filled up that whole area, there was like a big area, they put so many holes in there's no more. And then I found out about this group of engineers called Engineers Without Borders. A bunch of people from their club are like, yeah, we want to do something about this son. And I was like, Okay, great. And I thought it was a perfect thing for their club, you know, because bio gas right involves a flame, you're cleaning up garbage. You're taking you know, where you're taking, you know, dirt and making it into gold right and some useful so that's exciting. Um, also it's got involves fire, and it could explode. You know, I know engineers love, you know, making bombs and stuff. You know, they love that. So there's excitement right there. Right? They could blog. Well, how about if we do this, on average, make biogas on average, that was like really cold up there. And they were like, so what? You know, we're engineers, we love a challenge. And we'll figure this out. So then, they started studying this. And after 10 years, they come up with a awesome design and the design was approved and checked by the Seattle University. researchers working together with the Katmandu University. So they had like a collaboration between the two universities, you know, so that was really exciting. And so they made this design of a buried in the ground, you know, while insulated bio gas tank heated by solar panels, they're going to put all this 12,000 kilos of human waste into it. And it's going to digest it and make it into gas that the porters can cook on, it's going to be hooked up to the porter shelter. There's a big Porter shelter there. I heard it could sleep 50. It was built by Doug Scott's organization. The thing treats all the human waste, and then it produces fertilizer where the pathogens have been reduced and removed. So you can use it as good farm fertilizer, and it produces methane that you can cook on. So it's kind of a win win situation, you know, if you do it, right. And so we're really excited about it. It's not that expensive to build the thing. I mean, a really fancy tea house and gorakshep. Now I know a guy who just built one of those are running about one and a half to $2 million to build on one of those. And because of the transportation costs, but this bio gas thing is all it's gonna be about, I think we've penciled in around 600,000 bucks, so it's not even as much as a half a tea house. So Wow. And when you think about it, I mean to treat the human waste of 1300 people, man, that's no no joke right?

Thom Pollard:

After speaking with Dan, I got to thinking $600,000 it's it's not a ton of money in the grand scheme of things, but but it is enough money that it could take a while to raise that money unless somebody steps forward, or an NGO or some Governmental Organization comes forward to help and try to provide that money. And then it's going to take some years to build that facility. Something more immediate, I was thinking about like, Is there something that might be a better way to solve the problem? And I wondered how waste is managed in refugee camps around the world where, where there's obviously a large gathering of people, and the human waste problem is certainly something do they truck it away? Do they have these facilities that convert the human waste. And as it would turn out, I found out about a company in my very own New England based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it's called Change Water. And their mission is to develop and deploy safer, smarter, more dignified sanitation globally. 3 billion people plus on the planet lack safe toilet access, and a billion defecate openly. That's a lot of people and Mount Everest is just a tiny blip on the map. As Change Water says chronic under investment into sanitation. Infrastructure means people in many poor and vulnerable communities live with their sewage. With no toilets, or pipes. There's no way to flush Change Water Labs is developing a low cost, compact waterless toilet for non sewered households and communities. I spoke with founder and CEO Diana Yousef about their work, and posited to her if it might be a viable option to use on Mount Everest. Here's my revealing an awesome interview with Diana Yousef of change water. This, this isn't a problem unique to Mount Everest, probably the unique aspect of it is that the people there, most of them have a lot of money in, relatively speaking. And it's pretty, it's kind of sad that this problem hasn't been dealt with and fixed. And it might be you could blame it on the government, perhaps. But that's kind of lame. So, um, I thought maybe I could ask you in making that connection. Tell me a little bit about your organization and how it got started. And then maybe we can draw distinctions to Mount Everest, right?

Diana Yousef:

It's funny, first of all, regarding Mount Everest, I mean, a couple of years ago, somebody was saying, oh, wouldn't that be a great like, sort of project to get visibility to what you were doing? If you figured out a partner to do this on Everest? So, I mean, we did you know, at the time, we were still head down in the lab. So there wasn't really a thought of that. But does it's funny that, you know, this isn't the first time I've heard about the issue. So yeah, so I have to say that the idea started in a venue that is much higher than Everest. So, um, I, back in 2009, I was consulting to NASA, on ideas around recycling water for the space station. So because they also have a problem with, you know, resources on the space station. And you know, you can't throw things out and you can't turn on the faucet and expect more water to come out, you only have the water that you bring up with you. And so I was looking at a portfolio of ideas with them around recycling water on the space station. And one idea that was mentioned kind of in passing and they mean, like they didn't really do much with it was oh, you know, could could breathable materials. So these are the materials that we kind of know, like, similar to, you know, dry fit, you know, like the stuff that you have in your, you know, high tech sportswear that keeps you dry while you're working out. Can we use breathable materials as a way to passively separate water away from contaminants or away from waste. And in doing that, you know, you you're essentially pulling out the molecular water leaving the waste behind and then you can take that molecular water and use it again and again, because it's it, you know, it's really just pure water. And so I kind of, you know, it just caught my attention. I was like, you know, this is I mean, I come from a background of Kind of kind of a hodgepodge. But one of the things that's been a driver for me is trying to solve, trying to use science and technology as a way to solve problems in developing countries. And maybe the reason for that is because my parents are immigrants from a developing country, and specifically, they're from the Middle East, and water is sort of top priority in the Middle East. So I guess it's not a big surprise that I kept thinking about, what are we going to do with water. And so, you know, as a scientist makes sense, to me that, you know, trying to find a low energy way to treat water or to get rid of wastewater, would be a really good thing to do, especially in places that are low resource, like developing countries and, and, you know, I sort of made the connection, like, yes, the space station is the ultimate off grid location, but there are plenty of off grid locations here on Earth, and couldn't we use this as a low energy, low cost way to essentially deal with, with dirty water, essentially, I look at waste. And I see it's, it's, you know, it's a mix of things, but 95% of human waste is, is water. And, you know, if you pull out that water, you shrink the problem down to something much more manageable, something much safer, something much lower cost to deal with. And so I just kept thinking of this as like, there's got to be a way that we can help solve this problem by subtracting the waterpark. And, initially, you know, people said, That's not a thing. And I'm like, it has to be a thing, if 95% of what we're dealing with is water. And the big problem is, you can't flush it away. And if you have to carry it around to get rid of it, that just can't be easy, and it can't be pleasant. And, you know, it must be really costly. I just figured, you know, if we just take the water part out, then all of that becomes much easier. And better yet, you take the water out, and you put it back in nature in its cleanest form, you know, this becomes a much more sustainable solution. And, you know, of course, trying, you know, you know, it, it's, it's a really obvious use case, to put this in remote areas where, you know, you're trying to protect a really pristine, natural ecosystem, especially one that starts to, you know, become more traffic with human beings. So I think, yeah, I think, you know, it's, it's close to our heart, you know, to, you know, and also toilets are a way that you can essentially, deliver huge social impact and huge environmental impact, you know, with just one intervention.

Thom Pollard:

In the show notes, I'll have links to information about all of our guests and the organizations they represent, as well as more on Musa Masala and where you can learn about their organization, and the Wangchu Memorial Hospital.

The Wood Brothers:

didn't appreciate it.

Thom Pollard:

And happy as always, thank you to the wood brothers and their management for use of their song, happiness Jones for our theme song here on the happiness quotient under their publicist Kevin Calabro for making it all happen. For more information about me, Tom Dharma Pollard, to inquire about personal coaching or public speaking in person or virtually, please visit me at eyes open productions.com and write me anytime Tom dot Dharma dot Pollard at gmail. And if you'd like to join my mailing list, be sure to let me know. The story about human waste and garbage on Mount Everest is certainly an important one and we will return to that story from time to time in the future. Thank you for visiting the happiness quotient. I will see you all real soon.

The Wood Brothers:

Happy Happiness got it. Happiness