Scaling China’s Tianmen mountain, 48-year-old Yang Feiyue is not the average litter-picker. Feiyue is among the many men who have been hired to clean the mountains littered with plastic and other waste thrown by the tourists.
“Am I afraid? No, I’m used to it,” Yang tells AFP as he steps over a guardrail. Yang and his team’s job involves climbing as high as 400 meters (1,300 feet) above the ground to collect water bottles, packaging, and tissues — prompting local media to call them “the Spidermen”.
While Yang hangs off the steep cliff, clearing the thrown garbage, his colleague holds firmly onto the rope, which is attached to the hooks in the rock. Once the area is cleared, he is hauled up via a system of pullies, AFP reports.
China’s ‘Spidermen’: Litter-picking over the abyss.
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) December 8, 2020
“When it rains, we get single-use ponchos — and since the pandemic, we get face masks as well,” Yang says. Describing the challenging nature of his job, Yang says, “At first, my hands were incredibly painful after a day’s work — I could barely use my chopsticks to eat. But it’s a lot better now!”
The Tianmen mountain management created Yang’s team back in 2010 in order to manage the waste accumulating on the mountain, a common occurrence at most tourist spots in China. However, over the years, littering has reduced, Ding Yunjuan, vice-director of marketing for the mountain, said. “Before, our ‘Spidermen’ collected five tonnes of litter a year. Tourists nowadays are more civilised.”
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Yang and his team collected over two tonnes of waste in 2020, which saw a significant drop in the number of visitors.
(With inputs from AFP)