How to follow the “leave no trace” principles on your next camping tripJuly 19, 2019
-Words by Dhwani Anand of VentureSeekr-
Did you clean up the campsite the last time you went camping? Did you ensure to leave no trace of trash while enjoying your outdoor adventure or left the place better than you found it? According to the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics, 9 out of 10 are uninformed about the environmental impacts that they bring along when camping, hiking, or performing any other kind of adventurous activity outdoors. Leave No Trace is “a set of best practices for enjoying and protecting outdoor spaces.”
Established since 1994, the Leave No Trace is a non-profit organization that exists to educate people about their recreational impact on nature as well as how they should enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. The organization initiates to emphasize the importance of active stewardship of the outdoors worldwide, dedicated to the responsible enjoyment of adventurists and travellers outdoors. Initially known as Leave No Trace, the organization is now known as “Leave No Trace for Outdoor Ethics” and is currently officially located in Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Through its extensive research, educational resources, volunteerism, partnerships, and 7 principles of ‘leave no trace’, the organization aims at raising awareness, respect, and appreciation for the wildlands, species, and mother nature. Basically, the idea behind ‘Leave No Trace’ is to leave mother nature as unchanged by our presence as possible, so that other generations can enjoy it too.
Growing number of people are choosing to hike or camp in wilderness areas, which means an increasing amount of waste, and environmental damage is being generated, and hence minimizing our environmental impact is becoming increasingly important. Conserving and protecting environmental sustainability is our social responsibility. This is important not only for the protection of our mother nature but for the sustainable development of other people as well. Yes, u had a great time camping with your friends last week, but you want the same for others as well, don’t you? To make the beautiful landscapes and greenery equally enjoyable for others, ensure to Leave No Trace on your next camping trip. Wondering how to do so? Follow the 7 golden principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ listed below.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare - Check the regulations of the place where you are headed, talk to a ranger in person once you arrive or check postings to stay updated with the latest information. Different campsites may have different regulations regarding food storage and whether or not you can have a campfire, so it is important that you know the rules beforehand!
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces - Avoid creating new trails. By durable surfaces we mean hard packed ground or soil with little to no vegetation and flat surface. Try to keep your campsite small and stay 200m away from water. If you are camping in a not established campsite, disperse your camp even further so as to minimize the amount of impact that you create on one section of ground and other people don’t come and camp there as well.
- Dispose of Waste Properly - This includes food, trash, and even spilled food. Clean it all up well so that animals don’t get their hands around any leftovers that has a human smell. When washing dishes, stay at least 200m away from your campsite and water. Also, human waste is another important waste you must dispose off correctly. Be prepared with a poop kit and bury your waste or toilet paper by digging a hole underground further away from the campsite. Again, different areas have different regulations on this, so make sure to check the regulations of the place you are going to. Some places will even require you to carry your own waste out. In short: Whatever you pack in, you have to pack out!
- Leave What You Find - Don’t mess with historic structures and leave no natural formations as they are.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts - Firstly, refer to Principle 1 again, as some campsites will not allow you to light a campfire in their area. For places that do allow, use the designated fire pits, or rings that have already been established by them. This shall help minimize the impact that the fire has on the environment. Collect small woods and twigs that you can easily break off by hand. Never cut wood off trees even if you think they seem dead, and don’t use large logs. These are all part of mother nature, and would be best left as found in the forest. Avoid bringing firewood from home, as you may unintentionally invite invasive species and insects into the area. Instead, buy it locally. Once you are done, burn the coal down to ashes putting the fire out completely and then scatter the cool ashes to minimize the impact.
- Respect Wildlife - If you see a wild animal, do not feed, approach, or follow it. It is their natural habitat and we should peacefully let them live as they do without trying to instigate or harass them. Also, store your food carefully so that it is out of the animals’ reach.
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors - As straightforward as it is, just be respectful of other visitors camping out there! Camp well off the trail to keep the route clear for other campers, visitors, and animals.
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