Team Asha Pasa dedicates a day to waste collection


Dechen Dolkar  


“Don’t be an Azha Pasa!”

This is a common term in Western  Bhutan to warn someone trying to do something, but misconstrued as solely for show or to gain attention. Azha Pasa Stores’ Namgay Zangmo’s endeavors on Thursdays (Pasa) has nothing to do with being an Asha Pasa even if they have decided to not let Thursdays go to waste.

For two years now, the 32-year-old employee of Asha Pasa Stores has led a team of like-minded volunteers to clean up the dirtier face of trashy Thimphu.

At around 9:15 am, when Kuensel met the team last Thursday to see them at work, the team was ready, clad in black pants, a black long-sleeved shirt, and a pink office T-shirt, Namgay gears up with gloves, a mask, a hat, and plastic bags for waste collection.

Action starts at 9:30 am, cleaning the area around their office below NPPF colony, before venturing into the city from 10 am to 1 pm. Namgay said  they visit different locations every week, sometimes prompted by public requests.

“We collect an average of 40 kilograms of waste every week. The highest quantity we ever collected was 200 kilograms, and the least was around 12 to 15 kilograms,” Namgay said.

Where there’s rubbish, there are pests, and some of them walk on two legs, throwing their rubbish right in front of the do-gooders.

But Namgay said  it is a very Buddhist thing for her to continue doing this. “I feel very proud to be part of these initiatives. I can also earn merits from collecting waste, where I don’t have to do separate things for religion,” Namgay added.

Namgay finds deep satisfaction in these voluntary acts of waste collection, driven by her passion for a cleaner environment and country. She sees waste management as one of Bhutan’s significant challenges and believes her contribution, though small, is crucial.

“I feel very proud to be part of this initiative,” Namgay said.

However, their efforts aren’t without challenges. Namgay said that while collecting waste, some people passing by would add to it, while others, seeing their work, would take their waste back.

Sometimes, a volunteer. Or two often join their cause, further strengthening their impact.

After 1 pm, the team coordinates with Thimphu Thromde to pick up the waste, or they drop it at Mothithang, where the waste truck is stationed.

The founder of Azha Pasa, Kinley Wangchuk  said their commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness by dedicating Thursday mornings to trash collection in and around Thimphu

“With 20 to 25 people working in the organisation, we decided to raise awareness on the waste problem and inspire other organisations to do the same,” Kinley said.

Their cleaning campaign started in April 2022, with only two Thursdays missed since then—one due to heavy rainfall and the other on a national holiday.

Namgay has been leading the charge since day one, ensuring that even if they miss a Thursday, they make up for it on other days.

The team’s work can also inspire. Last week, a foreign volunteer from Dratsho joined the team after seeing their dedication to cleaning.

Meanwhile, another volunteer, Anjana Rai from Trongsa has been contributing Nu 1,000 almost every Thursday, supporting the team with refreshments.