Leave No Trace: A Guide to Sustainable Outdoor Recreation

Ainsley Lawrence
Leave No Trace: A Guide to Sustainable Outdoor Recreation

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There’s nothing like spending time in nature. It’s good for your mental and physical well-being, and you’ll never stop witnessing and experiencing some of the incredible natural wonders our world has to offer every time you step outside. 

But, if you’re a nature enthusiast, it’s important to give back to the planet as much as possible by minimizing your environmental impact while enjoying the great outdoors. If you love spending time outside, making the effort to live more sustainably will make a big difference in the future health and beauty of the world around you. 

The sustainable actions you take today will foster a healthier planet for generations to come. Harmonizing your passion for nature with eco-friendly practices is easy to do. Make a few simple swaps. Dedicate time and effort to wildlife conservation. Educate yourself and others on how to keep the great outdoors clean, and make sure you’re not just “talking the talk” when you spend time in nature. 

If you’re not sure how to get started with sustainable outdoor recreation efforts, let’s cover a few tips you can start using right away. 

Natural Pest Control Solutions

If there’s one thing most dislike about spending time in nature, it’s bugs. While plenty of insects have useful roles in their ecosystem, the last thing you want to experience while you’re hiking or camping is getting bit or stung by mosquitos, flies, certain types of ants, or wasps. As a solution, many outdoor enthusiasts look to bug repellent or bug spray. Unfortunately, many commercial bug sprays come in aerosol cans. That makes them easy to spray on your skin evenly, but aerosols deplete the ozone layer, increase radiation, and release dangerous gases into the environment. On top of that, empty aerosol cans lead to excess waste. 

If you’re camping or hiking in an area that’s likely to have a lot of biting bugs, opt for natural insect-repellent solutions. For example, some of the best natural ingredients to keep away flies include: 

  • Lemongrass oil; 
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus;
  • Catnip; 
  • Citronella;
  • Coconut oil;
  • Cinnamon.

You might already have some of those ingredients around your house, and you can take them with you into the great outdoors in your own bottles or jars to naturally keep buzzing flies (and other insects) away from you while you’re trying to enjoy your time in the sun. 

Be Mindful Around Waterways and Wildlife

Even when you’re enjoying outdoor recreational activities, you can do your part to give back to the planet. That includes being responsible when you’re participating in water activities. When most people camp or hike, they enjoy spending time near water either boating, kayaking, or swimming. There’s nothing like the relaxing sound of a river or the serene peace that comes from looking out over a lake. However, the ecosystems around these areas are very sensitive to human activity. A variety of fish and riparian wildlife have become endangered due to human activity like the introduction of invasive species or disturbances caused by boating.

Therefore, avoid disturbing wildlife as much as possible, don’t trample on vegetation near the shore, and check your boats and kayaks for any invasive species it may have carried over from other bodies of water. 

In addition, be considerate of wildlife that may be spooked by your presence. Wildlife — including predators like bears — tend to congregate around bodies of water, and may act aggressively if they’re spooked by your presence. These same animals may be tracked down and euthanized if an attack does occur, so it’s important to prevent these situations in the first place by prioritizing your safety. So pack bear spray, listen to your park rangers, respect the wildlife around you, and consider how your actions could be impacting their lifestyle

Education and Sustainability

One person can make a difference when it comes to a cleaner and brighter future. But, you can make an even bigger difference if you educate others on sustainable practices, too. Use every opportunity made available to you to show people the importance of sustainable outdoor practices, whether you’re at home or in the middle of a wooded campsite. 

If you want to get your neighborhood involved, consider starting a community garden. It’s a great opportunity to educate others on the importance of things like organic farming and the impact buying food from the store can have on the environment. You might be able to get help from universities or local government departments to help spark interest. 

Or, go one step further and host eco-friendly events in your favorite outdoor spots. Is there a local hiking trail you love or a campsite you like to visit every summer? Invite friends and family to spend some time there with you. Not only will they get a hands-on appreciation for their surroundings, but you can use it as an opportunity to talk about things like ecosystems, deforestation, and even climate change. Habitat degradation can lead to an increased risk of extinction and an increased risk of not adjusting to natural disasters. The more people understand the impact they have on the environment every day, the more likely they are to start living more sustainably. 

If you love the great outdoors, it’s time to take action to protect it. Keep these tips in mind to make your outdoor activities more eco-friendly, and future generations will benefit from your efforts. 

Ainsley Lawrence

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