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What Is Leave No Trace And Why It Matters

Whether you're new to hiking or a seasoned veteran you’ve probably seen or heard of “Leave No Trace” at least once. Whether it was a poster stapled to the information sign near the beginning of your trailhead or your ethical standard bible. Leave no trace contains seven principles that provide practices for minimal impact in the outdoors. These practices began in and for the backcountry but can be applied wherever you go. Here are seven different ways to make a positive sustainable impact in the outdoors and your life.



Planning your trip and preparing for your adventure helps you and your group have a more enjoyable and successful trip while also minimizing damage to the land. Poor planning can result in putting yourself and others at risk and causing damage to natural and cultural resources.


Land management construct trails to provide obvious routes. These trails are an impact on the land, but they are a necessary response to the growing number of outdoor lovers who wish to travel through natural areas. Using provided trail systems reduces the risk of scaring the natural landscape and creating multiple poorly chosen paths. When choosing a campsite, try avoiding being close to water and trails, select a sight that’s not easily visible to others. About 200 feet is ideal because it allows for wildlife to access these areas without disturbance. Choose an area that is heavily utilized that will cause no noticeable impact with further usage. For example, Lacks vegetation such as a sandy area or exposed bedrock. 

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Whenever I’m trying to enjoy the outdoors the biggest bummer that takes me out of nature trans is seeing someone’s leftover snack bag or smashed non-reusable water bottle. So let us all take on the mantra “Pack it in, Pack it out”. 

Ever walked into a nice wet squishy pile of dirt to find out its not dirt. Not sure how to handle human waste? Well, let’s get into it. Here are a few doo’s and a few don’ts when going outside. Do: One of the more popular choices are Cat holes, at least 200 ft from water/ trails/ camp find yourself a peaceful spot where you won’t get caught Dig a 6-8in. deep by 4-6in. wide hole. After you go cover it up with the original dirt and hide it under sticks, leaves and other natural materials. Bring a plastic bag or Ziplock, with a brown paper bag if you want to go incognito, to pack out toilet paper and tampons. Just need to go number 1, Try going on a rock, pine needles, or gravel, these ways are less likely to attract wildlife. Urine may attract wildlife because of the salts, water it down to avoid making new furry friends.


Have you ever had that moment when you catch that magical breathtaking moment where you fell in love with the outdoors? The goal is to allow others the same sense of discovery. That same opportunity to see and find the vista exactly as you got to by minimizing site alterations, avoid damaging plants and trees, and leave natural and cultural artifacts. 


When enjoying the outdoors, making a campfire was once the only way to keep warm and to cook food. Now it’s merely an option, If you feel you need or want one, here are a few tips to do it as sustainably as possible. Choose camp areas that are abundant in wood, try and stay away from areas with little wood in higher elevation, heavily used areas or in the desert. Use an existing fire ring, Keeping the fire small and burning only during the time you’re using it can help avoid wildfires. Put out fires with water, not dirt. 


The highlight of every trip, “Dude, you won’t believe how many animals I saw on this trip!” Seeing wildlife is such an amazing experience. Here is a way To enjoy them and still respecting their space. Try and enjoy wildlife from a distance. Quiet observation in small groups is the best way not to scare them and make them flea. Loud noises and quick movements are stressful for animals. (This rule does not apply in bear country, because making a little noise will help avoid startling the bears.) Don’t touch them, you never know who has rabies. Remember, we are visiting their homes. Give them enough space to roam freely so they feel secure and safe.


Considerate of other visitors to help everyone enjoy their outdoor experience. Some of us enjoy nature for the peace and to escape technology. Some of us enjoy hiking with music and our cameras. Be mindful of others. When hiking remember that the assumption on the trail is that downhill hikers will make way for the uphill traveler.

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7 principles are constantly reshaping and keeping up to date with the newest insights in the field. These are a few tips that give you a little power to make a difference, whether you are at home, In the backcountry or traveling through the city. Next time you’re taking an adventure, wherever that might be, you can feel more prepared to enjoy nature responsibly.

What are some tips you’ve found to live more sustainably?   

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