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Benjamin Ortega collected 1,630 tons of trash in Mount Rinjani: “IT IS SO NATURALLY NEEDED TO BE DONE”

Because of its natural beauty, Mount Rinjani is one of the most wonderful mountains often climbed in Indonesia. Unfortunately, this mountain is prone to trash left by irresponsible climbers. Benjamin Ortega or more familiarly called Benni is a climber from France who realized this when he set his foot on Mount Rinjani. He was amazed by its beautiful scenery, but he was very sad to see so much trash.

“It’s just a natural will. I had an amazing hiking experience. It was so beautiful. I was so happy about the whole trip, but then I got super sad that the trash is a big problem in the national park. I saw it instantly and directly when I stopped the hike. I could see trash everywhere, and the more I went up, the more trash I could see. It was kind of sad and a bit of a mixed feeling for me because I wanted to document a nice beautiful video about how beautiful Rinjani was. In my first two videos before the cleaned-up, I showed how beautiful Rinjani was, but then I felt so frustrated because I didn’t do anything about the trash. I edited my video and worked so hard to make it look beautiful without the trash, and I didn’t want to ruin this amazing video showing this beautiful volcano. I realized I couldn’t just walk past knowing the fact there’s a lot of trash there,” Benni explained what moved him to clean up the Rinjani through his virtual interview with us.

Benjamin sold baguettes online as a fundraiser for this clean-up project (IG/Benjaminortega).

Within 72 hours, he worked with the local community @greenrinjani_ and collected 1,603 tons of trash with locals and volunteers. Before the action, Benni and @greenrinjani_ raised funds to be able to pay porters. They raised funds by selling baguettes online and sold 2.3 thousand loaves of bread. From the fund, they spent 50 porters. Benni didn’t expect that the team could work so fast and had such good teamwork. They really enjoyed the “cleaning” trip.

“This whole trip was absolutely amazing. It was an incredible human experience. I was so happy to be a part of this action, especially since the last three years the economy around Rinjani has been going down because of the earthquake and covid, hired 50 people and provided them money in this trip and mission was really amazing. It’s so good to see us working together because I think many of the porters did it sincerely, they feel that the mountain is their mountain, they have been there for their whole life. Besides, they were already aware that Rinjani is very dirty, but they felt helpless to deal with it, and finally, there was this movement. They were very happy to be a part of this movement. Everyone worked together and had fun because we did it sincerely,” Benni expressed how happy he was.

With the help from @GreenRinjani_ , 50 porters and a couple of volunteers, he manage to pick up 1.603 tons of trash from 1200m to 2600m altitude during a short timeframe of 72h (IG/Benjaminortega).

The local government responded happily and appreciated the movement. Benjamin and @greenrinjani_ got invited to the National Park Office and discussed the solutions to trash on Mount Rinjani in the future; @lombokplasticfree was also there. It is being discussed to minimize the potential for climbers to leave trash on top, one of which is to try to require climbers to bring their trash bags, and all climbers have to pick up their trash when they go down.

“But now it’s still in the process. Hopefully, everyone will have more awareness to maintain cleanliness and natural beauty in the future,” Benjamin has high hopes for this.

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