Müllsammelaktion Umweltbaustelle Alpenverein am Kitzsteinhorn | © Edith Danzer

A project with the Zell am See High School and the Alpine Club

Two days, two school classes and loads of collected trash. The Zell am See Alpine Club carried out a clean-up operation together with high school students on the slopes and lift lines in the Alpincenter and Langwied area.

"It's alarming what skiers loose on their lift ride", find the students of the Zell am See High School while on their trash-collection mission. They all agree that in the future, they are going to pay even more attention not to drop any kind of trash anywhere else but in a trash can.

Müllsammelaktion Umweltbaustelle Alpenverein am Kitzsteinhorn | © Edith Danzer ©Edith Danzer
Students on their trash-collection mission, equipped with containers, gloves and garbage bags.

Last year, the Alpine Club celebrated its 150th anniversary. The clean-up operation was launched on this occasion, as Gabriel Seitlinger from the Alpine Club explains: "One of the Alpine Club's three pillars is nature protection. And part of it is getting rid of trash on our mountains. Last year, the weather let us down, so we carried out our project at the end of the 2023 school year."

Things lost & wasted

Besides expensive smartphones, earbuds, sunglasses, coins, credit cards, gloves and beanies, it were mostly cigarette butts, tissues and snack packaging that found their way into the trash bags. "I admit that I've also accidentally dropped things on a lift ride", says one of the students and adds, frowning: "The object falls down and vanishes in the deep snow. In spring, when the snow starts to melt, it re-emerges into the daylight. I will definitely be more careful not to drop things anymore."

Decomposition times

Gabriel Seitlinger knows exactly how long the lost items would pose an ecological or optical problem to the high-alpine terrain: "The Alpine Club Decomposition Chart shows: A tissue, for instance, decomposes in nature, but takes up to five years to do so. A cigarette butt takes seven years on average, but in the meantime does not only look ugly, but also contaminates groundwater by leaching toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the soil. A tin can will lay around in nature potentially hurting animals with its sharp edges for up to 500 years. A plastic bottle will leach its plasticizers into the environment for up to 5,000 years. While mini glass liquor bottles don’t decompose, their shards will pose a serious threat to animals over centuries."

Müllsammelaktion Umweltbaustelle Alpenverein am Kitzsteinhorn | © Edith Danzer ©Edith Danzer
A clear sign that will hopefully provide food for thought.

Ingo Steiner, operations manager, thanks the students for their hands-on support, for also his team collects trash on slopes and lift lines regularly. What everyone considered as particularly alarming was the number of cigarette butts collected in different containers over the two days and eventually presented by Ingo Steiner in a glass cylinder. At the same time, it stands for the great success of the clean-up operation. And maybe the one or the other will think back to it and put that chewing gum, tissue or cigarette butt back into their pocket on the next lift ride.