Eco-Friendly Guide To Enjoying The Outdoors
This year has already seen a huge increase of people getting outside and enjoying the beautiful earth, and the warming weather will only keep the number of humans exploring nature growing. In order to conserve and protect our beautiful parks, trails, and campgrounds we must do all we can to minimize the disturbance that we cause to the wildlife and plants that are living in the area.
This article is a compilation of tips and general practices to get you started and thinking about how you can be more eco-concious and respectful during your next outdoor adventure. I am starting off the article by just listing the Leave No Trace principles, which I try and share with everyone I can because it is a great guideline to live by in general and in nature!
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors.
Leave No Trace principles:
• Plan Ahead and Prepare
• Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
• Dispose of Waste Properly
• Leave What You Find
• Minimize Campfire Impacts
• Respect Wildlife
• Be Considerate of Other Visitors
© 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (www.LNT.org)
-Double check your campsite before you leave for any trash, left behind belongings, and your campfire.
-When going to the bathroom outdoors, you need to dig a cat hole and cover it well with soil. Check out the specific regulations of your destination. Some places have unique rules, so make sure you are prepared to bag your feces and/or toilet paper in a bag.
-Soap is very harmful to waterways, even if the packaging says that it is biodegradable. One good idea is to take some water into a pot and walk away from the primary water source to wash yourself. Be sure to pour the grey water away in an arch, so it spreads over a larger area.
-Remember to pack out biodegradable items like apple cores and orange peels. It can take them a long time to decompose and attracts wildlife. On the same note, don’t feed wildlife including birds and squirrels. It’s bad for their health and can make them forget how to find food on their own.
-Repair old or broken gear instead of throwing it out. There are easy tutorials online that can teach you how to maintain or repair pretty much any kind of hiking gear whether it be fixing a hole in your tent, re-waterproofing items, or more.
-If you hike a busy trail, be vigilant at staying on the marked trail. Busy trails lead to lots of impacts on nature by scaring away wildlife, destroying the fragile vegetation on the side of trails, and increasing trail erosion when people step off of the trails to bypass or join crowds.
-Stay culturally aware and respectful. Do a bit of research about the indigenous context of the places you visit to ensure you are being respectful. The interactive website Native-land.ca is a great place to start to learn the traditional territories of indigenous people locally and all over the world.
-Don’t take flowers, plants, rocks, earth or sand with you. Remember the mantra “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories”.
-Always make sure that you bring some of these essentials: A small first-aid kit, A headlamp, A survival kit or a paracord bracelet and a multitool, An emergency blanket
-Campfires are not always safe, responsible, or allowed. If you’re at a camp site, it’s often not allowed, but they might have a barbecue area where you can grill food.
Make sure you check the rules for campfires where you are and for the season. It can go extremely wrong if you lite up a campfire in dry season and there is a reason for the restrictions.
-Make sure you read the rules on bringing your own wood into a park/campsite. Many places only allow you to use wood they provide. This is to minimize the amount of harmful and invasive bug infestations that get carried in to the sites.
-Never leave your fire unattended, even if it is just embers. To verify it’s out, dump water on it and stir it with a shovel or a stick. If the earth is cold to the touch, it’s safe to leave.
-Opt for skipping using a campfire all together and instead utilize a campfire stove or something like a City Bonfire that is compact and holds a lot of heat power.
-Our article on affordable solar gadgets has many unique items you can bring on your next hiking or camping trip, including: solar powered chargers, lanterns, and more!
-Try and thrift some hiking poles or ski poles instead of opting for the trendy (but notably easy to break) collapsible poles!
-Check out Darn Tough Socks, which have an unconditional lifetime guarantee. They are 100% wool, durable, and comfortable!
-You can build an alcohol stove out of a beer can with only a safety pin and pocket knife (video tutorial here!)
-Use ice blocks instead of buying bags of ice
-Eco friendly bug repellents:
-Bring stainless steel cutlery and dining set instead of plastic/paper disposable ones
-Opt for an electric lighter instead of single-use ones!
-Osprey bags has an “All Mighty Guarantee”. This means that they will repair any damaged or defective bag, or replace it if it can’t be repaired. This both makes the bag last longer, as well as creates a continuous loop of repairing, reusing, and recycling!
-If there are water sources, but you’re not sure if the water is safe to drink, then pack a water filter and a water bottle!
I hope that this article inspires you to do a little bit of planning before your next outdoor adventure to ensure that you not only are safe and have fun, but also are being a respectful steward of the Earth. Thank you for working with us to Cut The Crap!