Leave no trace principles have never been more important in the whole of human history as they are important today. Many of us like to spend our time in nature. It’s a place we emerged from and it’s our home although we made ourselves concrete homes and moved away from nature in the last few centuries.
Still, we need to spend as much time as we can in nature. It’s good for everything. Nature is a cure. However, we need to understand that we make an inevitable impact every time we get back to our roots and travel through nature. This impact can be much smaller if we only get aware of it and try to follow a few simple rules. That’s what leave no trace philosophy is all about.
introduction to 7 leave no trace principles
The original 7 leave no trace principles were designed by The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Please read their rules about proper behavior in nature and the extra rules we added will make much more sense to you.
Leave no trace philosophy is not just a set of rules to abide by when you are spending your time outdoor. It’s truly a set of rules to follow in all aspects of our lives. They can be applied everywhere and can have a huge impact on the way you live.
We need to understand that there are many more others who share similar passions for being outdoor. Suddenly you have a ton of people visiting one particular famous outdoor place. That inevitably brings a huge impact that we as a human species have on the nature around us.
And that’s why it is important to follow the leave no trace principles. We cover 5 additional rules that could be considered as an add-on to the original leave no trace philosophy.
1. minimize the usage of plastics
There’s a fun statement that we read somewhere on the Internet and it says that the sole purpose of human existence is to make plastic because Earth can’t produce it naturally. Somehow it seems that we have taken this task seriously and we produce a ton of plastic every day.
We are not aware of the impact plastic has on our environment until we see the whales with their stomachs full of it. Plastics are the ultimate problem of our modern existence. We don’t believe we could get rid of it completely, but we can make things better.
We can’t order anyone to use less plastics, but everyone has power over himself/herself. It’s enough if we use less plastics when we go outdoor. And not only when going in nature, but it would also be perfect if we could reduce our plastic waste in all the aspects of our lives. Take glass bottles instead of plastic ones. Not taking plastic bags in the shops but using a reusable canvas one.
Remember, you can make a difference if you follow leave no trace philosophy.
2. use nature-friendly products
There was a time when I was working as an adventure guide on the Zrmanja river in Croatia. We had our base far from civilization and the river was passing right in front of our camp. We used it for everything and we have washed in it. Now imagine 20 persons washing themselves each day with a regular shampoo that gets flushed down the river and harms its natural life.
It’s not something you want to do when in nature. To minimize this effect, you should use products with natural ingredients with as little chemistry as possible. Find the organic solution of the product you need on your outdoor adventures and you’re already on the right path taken by all who follow the leave no trace principles.
3. take someone’s else trash if you find it
Do you remember how many times you stumbled upon someone’s else trash when you were in nature? Too many times, right? Especially in places that are popular and crowded with people. The best thing you can do with it is to take it with you. Take as much as you can, even if it’s only one plastic bottle, that’s already one bottle less in the environment.
If 10 persons are going to do the same, that already makes the difference. If you are taking the same trail to return from your adventures, you can pick up the trash on your way back. That way, you don’t need to carry it for the whole duration of your outdoor ventures.
4. respect the local community and laws
Leave no trace principles are universal, but there are some extra things to think about when traveling in foreign countries or particular places of your own country. There are different rules in different communities. For example, there are periods when you can’t make a fire in Croatia. It’s forbidden to do so during the summer months and you’re not allowed to make fire anywhere.
There are some areas where camping is forbidden too. And there are many more different rules that certain areas have. Make sure you get to know them and try your best to follow them. Maybe camping somewhere won’t do any harm, but making a fire definitely could.
5. know your limits and respect yourself
Finally, you should respect yourself and listen to your body. This entry might seem hard to understand at first but let us give you an example. Let’s say you want to push your limits during a hike. It’s already late and you’re tired but you want to reach the peak you intended to reach. And you get there but now it’s dark and you can’t return home and you got lost somewhere in the mountain.
So you alarm the mountain rescue service and before you know there are 50 more persons in the mountain trying to find you. And they have an impact too. Their main goal is to find and rescue you and they will use any means necessary to do so. So you just made a huge impact only because you haven’t stopped at the right time.
things we do to follow the leave no trace principles
First of all, we are not some enlightened individuals that will tell you how you need to live your life. This article is not about it nor will any of our articles will ever be. There are much more aware of people out there than we are.
But we indeed try to live by these rules. You’ll never see us leave anything when traveling outdoors. We guarantee you. We always take every piece of trash we make with us. We try to use more ecological ways of exploring nature, take kayaking for example. It’s much more ecological than using a motorboat, but we are not against motorboats nor will we reject boat rides. On the other hand, we still prefer kayaking and its benefits when it comes to moving across bodies of water.
We believe that leave no trace principles are there to show us a better way of living with nature, not to tell us to abandon everything we achieved as a civilization. We need to be realistic and aware of the impact we make and try to minimize it step by step.
We do a lot of hiking tours and hiking has been our first love when it comes to outdoor activities. We often see a lot of smaller pieces of trash along our hiking routes and we often pick it up on our way back. We collect as much as we can in that given moment.
Even in our ‘regular’ life, we try to live as sustainably as we can. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. But we always learn.
think about a environment cleaning day once a month
You know about that trend in which people went out and cleaned some part of the landscape and then posted a before and after pictures on the social networks. And suddenly more and more people were doing it and posted pictures. It’s a great add on to leave no trace principles.
We haven’t seen as many such pictures posted lately but it made us think about how anybody could join in the leave no trace philosophy by cleaning something polluted by someone else. A good idea would be to have a cleaning session at least once a month or whenever you have the chance to do so.
You just go out in nature and clean some part for an hour or more. Trust us, Earth needs your help and you’ll feel good after you finish with cleaning.
make leave no trace philosophy part of your everyday living
Leave no trace principles are truly a set of rules that could help us to have a more sustainable life and less impact on nature. Abiding by the rules of leave no trace philosophy is not done over the night. The first step is to become aware of the impact every single one of us has. That step is the most important one.
After that step, walking down the leave no trace principles road becomes much easier. And remember, you make a difference.
Enjoy your adventures, embrace leave no trace philosophy and follow the leave no trace principles!