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How to be a better human (hiking in nature)

 

It’s no secret that us humans have had a big impact on this planet already, and as an outdoor enthusiast you probably don’t feel like one of the ‘bad guys’ but you could be doing more harm than you realise! We all think that just one person doing something isn’t going to have much of an impact, but if you thought it then someone else probably has and will too… The ‘leave no trace’ mindset is very much needed to carry us through the great outdoors and to ensure it’s still there in all its glory for all those who come after us.

To leave no trace at all is arguably impossible, but below are some tips to make sure we have as little impact as is humanly possible:

 

1. Keep to the path. A plant can generally bounce back if trodden on once, but not if everyone treads on it… If you really MUST get that special photo off the path be extra mindful as to exactly what you’re trampling on as you get into position, then get your butt back to the trail where you belong (preferably the same way you came)!

Sometimes the main path is impassible due to deep mud etc so it’s understandable to forge another route around when you really have to – though with the right footwear a bit of mud shouldn’t matter!

 

2. Take your litter home with you, and perhaps even be a better human and pick up any litter left by the lazy ones while you’re passing with your own rubbish bag!

In some areas it also means taking home the banana peels and apple cores too since at high elevations they take far too long to decompose and can alter the delicate ecosystem that you came to enjoy. If you don’t want to have to pack it out, don’t pack it in…

 

3. Make use of public transport or walk where you can to avoid spoiling an area with dozens of parked cars and all the excess emissions they mean. Park & Ride schemes are in place in many popular tourist hiking areas during peak seasons so do a bit of research before you go, you might be surprised.

 

4. Can you do without a fire? I know a campfire when wild camping is super romantic, and everyone enjoys watching the sparks and flames dance but do you need it? Rotting wood is a valuable element for the forest ecosystem and those resources can be quickly depleted if everyone enjoyed a roaring campfire in the same area every week, plus each log is likely teaming with life already - working on turning the wood into fertile soil to complete the cycle!

If you can get by well enough with a camp stove then do so and keep the campfire special.

 

5. Put things back where you found it! Curiosity is a good thing, without it we wouldn’t learn very much but when you’re done nosing under that ever so intriguing rock PUT IT BACK the same way you found it. The lichen developing on the top of the rock and the mycelium underneath would very much like to stay in the conditions that attracted them, not to mention all the wee beasties that were merrily scurrying around in safety before you came along...

 

 

Do you have any other tips to help us all be better humans when hiking and camping? Leave us a comment below!

 

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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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