The cleaning festival
It was in 2009 when Javier Rojel, a former guide Explora in Torres del Paine, realized while visiting the park along with a friend, Luisa Alegría, that despite being a place with wonderful landscapes, turquoise lakes and rivers, golden plains and imposing mountains in their full splendor, there was something else that caught his attention that he could not stop looking at.
The characteristic and unique flora and fauna of Chilean Patagonia was overshadowed by thousands of pieces of waste discarded by humans, and which do not decompose with the passing of time. In other words, garbage.
That was when his love of nature and the place where he began working at the age of 16 led him to act and think about reversing the situation. This is how the Cleaning Festival began.
He spoke with CONAF – in charge of the Torres del Paine National Park – and the different concessionaires that are there, including Explora, to obtain their support cleaning the Park.
YOU’RE INVITED TO THE PARTY
They began to publicize it through acquaintances and the same companies that work in the park, inviting people to participate in this activity and managing to convene volunteers from Torres del Paine National Park and young people from nearby cities, such as Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas.
“Initially the activity lasted for 3 days, when volunteers would get together and cover the most visited trails in the park, as well as the W, collecting the garbage. We called it the trail festival (…) and after a few years we realized that the places near the park were also dirty, so we created the festival or roads, where we would get together and clean the entrances a day before the festival of the trails,” Javier Rojel explained.
The latest festival was held last weekend, with 43 volunteers participating, including 21 children from the Juan de Ladrilleros school in Puerto Natales. Hundreds of volunteers have participated in this activity since the festival began, including CONAF workers, with a record of 120 kilos of garbage collected in 2012.
Javier Rojel commented that there is less and less garbage as time passes, which means that people are more aware about not throwing it out. They collected 45 kilos this year.
ALL HELP IS WELCOME
José Linnebrink is superintendent of the Torres del Paine National Park. The Conaf provides the volunteers with every assistance so they can work without problems on those days.
“We have always been involved and we try to help, for example, we free up the park entrance and provide staff when we can. We also talk to the concessionaires so they can help transport the volunteer and we take responsibility for disposing of the garbage they collect,” said José Linnebrink.
On the other hand, the different accommodation services in the park, including Explora, help by providing the volunteers with food and/or accommodation.
Eduardo Machuca, manager of Explora in Torres del Paine, commented that it is very important for the company to participate in this type of activities, as it is in line with our commitment to the environment and local communities.
“This year four of our employees participated during their working hours and we not only supplied food to our team, but also to many participants in the event,” Eduardo Machuca said.
Photos by: Instagram @fiestadelalimpieza