Lately, a lot of attention has been focused on the problem of waste left behind on mountains by alpinists and hikers. Mount Everest is said to be almost a dump and Mount Fuji a national disgrace. However, the problem of trash and environmental pollution afflicts even smaller peaks.

This week, NHK’s nature series “Chikyu Daisuki (Loving the Earth)” (NHK-G, Sat., 11 a.m.) will report on efforts to clean up Mount Hayachine in Iwate Prefecture and protect it from destructive refuse. As with many mountains, the main culprit is human waste, which seeps into the ground and contaminates not only the soil, but the underground water system as well. Hayachine is famous in Japan as a kind of sanctuary for high-altitude plants and flowers, and is particularly popular among middle-aged and elderly hikers, a group that is swelling as baby boomers reach retirement age.

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