My biggest pet peeve when I’m out enjoying the beautiful great outdoors is when people think they can treat this earth like it’s a garbage can. I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to just toss their garbage to the side of a trail or leave all their beer bottles behind after spending a night in nature.
I love that people get out and do clean ups or keep a conscious mind on Earth Day, but it would be great if we’d just treat every day like Earth Day. So in honor of that, I’m listing ways you can help to reduce your negative impact on this beautiful planet while adventuring outside.
- Pick up after yourself!
This one is the most basic, but yet somehow so many people find it hard to follow. Pack out what you pack in! Instead of throwing your garbage on the side of a trail or campsite, put it in your pack, or pocket, or a bag. Even your car! I don’t know, it’s really not that hard to place garbage somewhere else besides the outdoors.
- Pick up after your dog.
I’ve been over this a lot, but if you hike with a dog and they happen to need to go to the bathroom while you’re off on a trail, bag the poop and take it with you when you leave. Also, I know it’s gross to have it in your vehicle, but if they don’t have trash cans at the trailhead, don’t just leave it there. Take it with you and find the nearest trash. There is pretty much no purpose to you bagging poop just to leave it there. You’re just adding more waste.
- Plan ahead and prepare.
If you’re going camping and brining lots of stuff for meals and cooking, plan ahead. Transfer your eggs to an egg holder, remove things from packages beforehand, and when possible, repackage food to minimize the waste you are bringing with you. Also, use a reusable water bottle. It’s better to keep filling up the same one than going through a bunch and having a ton of plastic to deal with.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
Always have the goal of camping at established campsites and taking established trails. Sometimes it’s hard to find an established campsite if you’re backpacking where a lot of people don’t go. In that case, find a patch of solid dirt, instead of just sticking your tent where you think will make the best Instagram shot, so that you’re not crushing all the vegetation.
- Be mindful of waterways.
Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. If you’re washing dishes, follow that same rule and never dump your water in or near those bodies of water. Also when needing to dig a toilet in the backcountry, always dig it away from these waterways (and trails)!
Now obviously I’m not perfect and I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but if you want to be conscious in your daily impact and not just when outdoors, here’s a list of things you can work on.
Separate your trash from things that can be recycled.
- Don’t use plastic straws.
Did you know you can drink from the top of your cup?! That you don’t actually need to sip your beverage through a straw?! I get that some things are hard to drink without a straw, or that some people are diehard straw fans, but if that’s the case for you, then invest in a reusable straw.
- Be mindful of geotagging.
I normally only tag places that are already popular, but won’t tag places that not a lot of people go to. That’s slightly because I’m stingy and want to keep that place more to myself, but it’s mostly because I worry about the impact an influx of people will have on it. Some places just aren’t meant to be touched by all of mankind.
- Use reusable bags.
Plastic bags are ugly and weak anyway.
- Don’t leave the water running when you’re brushing your teeth.
It’s really not that hard to turn the water off and then back on when you need it.
There are a lot more things I could cover, but it comes down to using common sense and putting in a bit of extra work to help reduce the impact you have on this planet. I feel it really comes down to most of us being lazy and not wanting to put in the extra work, not that we don’t care. But we need to remember this is our planet and we need to take care of her. So while we’re enjoying the outdoors this weekend, keep our beautiful planet in mind. You can even join one of the many groups participating in an Earth Day clean up, or make one of your own.
Happy adventuring and recycling 😉