With more and more people choosing to reconnect with nature and camp in the great outdoors, the potential for collective change grows. Together, we can leave a positive impact by adopting eco-conscious choices and advocating for our Earth. It can start with the simplest act – like removing the litter that others leave – but can quickly snowball, if others see and feel inspired to follow suit!
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you’ve probably heard of Leave No Trace; the principles nature enthusiasts follow to preserve the natural environment.
Leave No Trace has been around since the ‘60s, when the US Forest Service developed the seven Principles of Leave No Trace to reduce our environmental impact and ensure that future generations can enjoy nature for years to come.
Here at GeerGarage, we are working to understand how best to lessen the impact of our environmental footprint while still enjoying the outdoors. We believe the outdoors is for everyone, and the wilderness should be kept wild.
Follow these steps when camping to minimize your environmental impact and deepen your appreciation for mother nature.
Plan ahead and prepare
A bit of planning can make your camping trip go a long way. Platforms like The Dyrt help compare unique outdoor stays. We love The Dyrt's ethos – which feels similar to ours – connecting people to land and nature and building a community of nature lovers.
Once you’ve decided where to camp, research the area and check the weather forecast, trail conditions, regulations and tide predictions (if you’re camping sea-side). Make sure you have the required permits or passes, such as Wilderness Permits or Discover Passes if you’re in Washington state.
Despite careful planning and preparation, unexpected situations can arise when camping, such as accidents or injuries. That’s why being familiar with first aid before setting out on your camping trip is a good idea. Having a close contact who knows basic first aid techniques can ensure your peace of mind while camping, particularly in remote areas where access to medical care could be limited.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Trampling on fragile vegetation can damage it and cause soil erosion. You might not think your footprint alone would cause much environmental damage, but now picture millions of others following in your footsteps! Frequently camping on delicate soil can stunt plant growth in that area and destroy local habitats, particularly for insects and worms.
If camping off the beaten track, set up your home-away-from-home 100 feet away from natural water sources and on durable surfaces such as bare rock or established/purpose-built trails.
Whether it’s the beach, wilderness or ‘glampground’, leave the campsite better than you found it. Seasoned campers or hikers will have heard of the camping tenet ‘Pack it in, Pack it out’. It means before you leave a campsite, packing up any litter or supplies you brought there.
Neglecting to properly dispose of plastic bags and cigarette butts can damage the environment, but so can organic litter like non-native fruit peels, which also attract pests. Nifty gyear like this Parks Project clean-up kit makes picking up trash quick and mess-free. Plus, the money from each purchase is given back to national parklands to support conservation initiatives such as fire recovery efforts and trail construction. Or why not try building a DIY kit?
Respect the wildlife
Respect wildlife when you’re in the great outdoors -you’re sharing the homes of birds, wild animals and insects when you camp! Avoid approaching animals or feeding them leftovers even if they beg. Resist their cuteness and don’t give in! Eating human food can hurt their health and ability to find food in their habitat.
The National Wildlife Federation is doing great work spreading awareness of wildlife conservation and saving certain species from the brink of extinction. They also have field guide apps that nature enthusiasts can use to identify and grow a greater appreciation for the local species of plants, animals and insects in the ecosystem.
Leaf what you find
Before you pick that wildflower on your hike or scour the shore looking for the perfect collection of seashells, consider the impact that it can have on the environment. Flowers (even as they decay) are a source of nutrients for animals such as birds. In the Pacific Northwest, hummingbirds draw nutrients from plants such as red-flowering currants and salmonberries. Sea creatures, such as hermit crabs, use empty snail shells as homes. As tempting as taking home just a touch of nature’s beauty with you might be, remember you’d also be taking it away from animals who depend on it.
Why not try an environmentally-friendly alternative for seaside collecting? Next time you visit the beach, why not ‘Take 3 for the Sea’ and dispose of three pieces of litter instead!
Channel your considerate camper
The concept of Leave No Trace is simple – leaving no evidence you ever set up camp in a space. The only lasting impression of your camping trip should be photos and memories, not trash or scorch marks! Every trip is an opportunity to be an ambassador for the environment and keep it green.
Have you heard any top tips for leaving no trace when you camp? Here’s a sustainable challenge for you! Next time you go camping with a group of friends, why not have a “cleanest campsite” competition? Take before and after photos of your pitch, and the best restored wins a prize. We’re all in this together. Let’s play in a way that preserves the planet, long after we’ve left.