It can take many hundreds of years until our rubbish has rotted. As bacteria stop doing their job above a temperature of 10 degrees, there are fewer of these useful helpers, which degrade the rubbish biologically, the higher the altitude.So that you can get a better idea of how long it takes:
Litter is not just unsightly, it can really damage the fragile nature in the alpine region. Cigarette butts for example are full of poisonous substances, which after smoking remain in the filter. With every single cigarette butt thrown away tar, nicotine and traces of sulphur seep into the ground and water cycle. Just one cigarette can pollute 40 to 60 litres of clean water. If wild animals such as rabbits or a dog, accompanying its family on a hike, unwittingly eat a cigarette butt, they can die agonizingly. Broken glass and metal cans can injure humans, grazing and wild animals, simply by stepping on it by accident or swallowing it. Fragments of glass can also start fires due to the sunlight by the magnifying effect.
It’s not that difficult to make your trip in the mountains more sustainable: PET bottles can be exchanged for reusable bottles made of stainless steel, glass or BPA-free plastic. Such bottles can be found in all shapes and styles, almost all of them are dishwasher safe or can simply be washed in hot water after use. Instead of clingfilm or tin foil simply use a lunch box to transport your sandwiches, sausages, eggs, vegetables, whatever. Find out more about how to put together the ideal snack for your hike here in our tips for ideal food on the mountain.
If you don’t want to do without wrappers, please make sure your take them with you after enjoying their contents Stow them carefully so they can’t fall out of your rucksack or trouser pocket by chance. The ideal solution is to take a bag to put all your litter in. That way you keep your rucksack clean (there are also special containers for cigarette butts which also contain the smell). Those wishing to collect karmic bonus points are welcome to bend down along the way and pick up dropped muesli bar wrappers or empty coke bottle which other people have left behind. Mother Nature and other hikers will thank you!
Treating nature responsibly also means abiding by other alpine rules. Your hiking route is also habitat for plants, wild animals and livestock plus recreational area for fellow human beings. You can make a worthwhile contribution even just by avoiding a few things: