In the collective imaginary, Nepal is a land of pristine nature, temples and sacred sites. Few people are acquainted with the other side of the picture: a land devastated by plastic and rubbish generated by mass tourism and the rapid spread of consumption in a civilization that is still archaic. Starting in 2011, a group of volunteers began gathering the trash abandoned on the peaks of the Himalayas and in Nepal’s sacred areas. They are known as the Green Soldiers, an army led by Achut Gurung, who, like a Bollywood version of Don Quixote, battles the mountains of plastic under which indifference, scorn, ignorance and, above all, a gradual and inexorable loss of cultural identity are hiding.
Today, after years of collecting garbage, the Green Soldiers want to leave a lasting mark, reappropriate an ancient symbol and reconstruct harmony and beauty, starting from something that is universally considered waste. On May 3, 2014, in the center of one of Kathmandu’s most sacred squares, after countless hardships, radio and television announcements, glitches, and authorizations and blessings that never arrived, the Green Soldiers created an enormous Mandala, made not of sand but of plastic gathered in the four corners of Nepal. It is the symbolic beginning of change that not even the terrible earthquake which hit in April 2015 will be able to cancel.
Official website: http://www.wastemandala.com/