Spending time outdoors is something every traveler is likely to experience, and there are many reasons this is an exciting experience to have at least once. It is an opportunity to get close to nature, smell the clean breeze, and live like a nomad. But while spending time outdoors, it is important to know the best practices to adapt to keep the environment clean and healthy for others. There are numerous tips out there about how best to spend time in nature, but the concept is known as - Leave No Trace covers all areas on how best to spend time in nature without causing damage, and here’s why every traveler needs to know about this concept.
What Is ‘Leave No Trace’ and Why Is It Important?
Nature is one important thing everybody has to pay attention to because it affects all. Any action taken by a person, good or bad, affects another person in one way or the other. When it comes to traveling, the actions of others are not just impactful to others but also to nature. Think about deforestation, the destruction of nature, inappropriate waste disposal, and many other destructive things done by humans. It affects nature and the people as well. Leave No Trace is a simple concept that aims to ensure the environment is preserved and taken care of by its users.
How To 'Leave No Trace' While Traveling
To achieve this aim, seven principles have been put together that should be adopted by people who find themselves outdoors. One thing to note about these principles is that they are not necessarily rules that must be enforced like the laws. It is a lifestyle that can easily be adopted by anybody. With that being said, below are the seven Leave No Trace principles and how to implement them.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Planning is the first step to having a successful journey. Planning and preparing ahead involves studying the destination, checking the weather forecast, following an up-to-date map, and knowing the regulations of the area. This plan also includes backups for emergencies, what to eat, how long to stay, what to carry for the journey, and how to avoid hazards like flash floods and extreme weather. When in an overcrowded or large group, it is also helpful to split the group into smaller ones and spread it across less frequented areas to minimize the impact on the environment. To avoid waste, reusable containers should be used to repackage food and a current map.
Travel and Camp On Durable Surfaces
Traveling or camping on durable surfaces simply implies camping and traveling in areas that have been set aside for those specific purposes. When it comes to camping, camp only in existing campsites, and when it comes to traveling, only travel on existing trails. This helps in preserving as much nature as possible. While hiking or camping, stick to the trail or campsite and avoid expanding it by wandering off to an untouched place. Every impact on an untouched place creates a footstep for the next person to follow. With time, this process eventually destroys the environment.
Gravel, rock, sand, dry grass, and deep snow are all durable surfaces one can camp or travel on. Always avoid untouched places and fragile areas and also stay up to 70 m (200 feet) away from water sources such as - lakes, streams, and rivers to protect them.
Dispose Of Waste Properly
Everything brought into a place should be brought out. Like on many beaches, one should only leave their footprints behind and nothing else. The footprints should also be in the right place. Food scraps, tissue paper, and generally any trash should be collected properly and taken out of the area. It is best to make use of toilet facilities, but if these facilities are not nearby, dig holes up to 8 inches deep and more than 60 m (or 70 wide steps) away from water bodies and dispose of feces in there. Cover up the hole properly at the end of the process without looking inside, because yikes! All hygienic items should be taken out and disposed of properly as well.
In addition, stay more than 70 m (200 feet) away from water bodies when washing dishes or bathing and scatter dirty water. It is best to avoid using biodegradable soap but if it must be used, use a small amount.
Leave What You Find
Both natural and man-made things should be left the way they are found. When something interesting presents itself, simply take pictures and admire it without making contact. Try not to touch, deface, or remove natural and historical materials from where they are. Some of these things have been on the spot for centuries; hence it is important to preserve them as long as possible. Also, do not bring in alien objects or introduce strange species to the area, and avoid constructing new things such as - structures, furniture, or trenches.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Campfires should be kept minimal in places where campfires are permitted. Use dead wood that can be cracked with the hand and set up the fire in established fireplaces. The fire should also be in control and always checked. Make sure wood is burned to ash and also check that fires are completely put out and cool before leaving.
Wildlife has as much right to privacy and even more personal space than people so it is important to always keep a distance when observing these creatures. Do not approach, follow, feed, disturb, or confront wildlife. Pets should also be controlled always or left at home.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
To create a world where everybody enjoys being outdoors, be considerate and respectful of other visitors. Reduce electronic or personal sounds so the sounds of nature can be heard predominantly.