As an outdoor enthusiast, you've probably heard of 'leave no trace' or 'zero waste' principles.
By implementing these principles, you ensure that the environment remains thriving and beautiful for others to enjoy for years to come.
However, did you know that you can easily apply some of zero waste practices at home?
In this article, we'll talk about what leave no trace principles are, why they're so important when applied to our everyday lives and how to put them into practice with minimal effort!
Leave no trace principles are guidelines that outdoor enthusiasts abide by to minimize their impact on the environment.
Made up of seven main rules, these guidelines provide a framework for behaving when outdoors to ensure generations after us enjoy the same outdoor environment.
The principles are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp only on durable surfaces
- Have proper waste disposal
- Leave what you find (except for waste)
- Minimize campfire impact
- Respect wildlife
- Be mindful of other visitors
By following these seven principles when we're outdoors, we minimize our impact on the environment and also make hiking more enjoyable for ourselves!
Why Apply Leave No Trace Principles in Everyday Life
Just like you'd like to leave the nature trails clean and undisturbed for the next generations, it's equally important to ensure you do the same to your immediate environment.
Applying these principles at home is a great way to be more mindful of our daily lives' impact on nature.
How to Apply Leave No Trace Principles in Your Everyday Life
Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare
One of the most significant environmental issues we face, is that of single-use items. As someone looking to protect the environment, your first task should be reducing your consumption and waste by eliminating single-use items in your life.
This is where planning comes in.
First you should really consider if the things you're using are essential and reduce consumption of unnecessary stuff. After that consider switching from single-use items to their eco-friendly reusable alternatives. This includes things such as grocery bags, food containers, utensils, water bottles, cosmetics and so much more.
The best part is that this will also significantly lower your spendings in the long-term.
Principle 2: Travel and camp only on durable surfaces
This means that you should stay on the existing trail, always be mindful of where you step and choose rock, gravel, or other dry soils over meadows and other sensitive areas as a path.
Even though it might seem like one step won't damage the environment, it becomes a big deal when hundreds of people think the same way and make their 'one step'.
Principle 3: Have a Proper Waste Disposal System
How much trash do you generate in a week? Do you recycle? Are you the kind of person who'd throw trash out of the car window on a highway? (hope not)
These are some of the questions to ask yourself when thinking about your waste disposal system. And don't stop here at the questions.Take the necessary steps to improve your waste disposal system.
One of the ways to do this is by reducing consumption of single-use consumables at your house (as explained above), reusing and repurposing what you already have at home and only then recycling what's left.
Start reading the labels and doing the separate collection of recyclables. If you feel overwhelmed start with the basic sorting – paper / plastic / glass. Don't forget to google the guidelines of your local area and make sure to follow their instructions.
If you have old clothes that you'd like to get rid of, donate them rather than sending them to the landfill. To learn more about cloth donations, check out our guide on where to donate clothes in Canada, USA, UK and Australia.
When hiking try to collect all the waste you generate (if any) and make sure to bring it to the recycling bin.
Principle 4: Leave What You Find
This principle urges outdoor enthusiasts to avoid picking stuff from nature. When outdoors, don't pick wildflowers, rocks or shells from their natural space, and try not to cut tree branches.
If you find trash, though, picking it up and disposing of it in a eco-friendly manner would be a great thing to do. Some people even practice plogging (collecting trash from the ground while jogging in natural areas). We tried it, it's really fulfilling!
Principle 6: Respect Wildlife
When in nature, respect wildlife. Keep in mind that you're coming into wild animals' and birds' homes, and any carefree action can negatively impact their lives.
But how do you apply this in everyday life?
One of the ways to do this is by adopting a more plant-based lifestyle. By following a plant-based lifestyle, you'll not only do your body good but also help protect the environment.
By eating less meat and more vegetables and fruits, you can reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Eating less meat is also a way of taking a stand against the exploitative animal agriculture and commercial fish farming industries.
Another way to protect wildlife in your area is by always picking up your pet's poop. By picking your pet's poop, you help reduce the risk of fecal bacteria getting into natural waterways, which could cause infections to wildlife.
Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Whether in nature or everyday life, it's essential to think about how your actions affect other people.
Don't be the neighbor who blasts loud music in the middle of the night. If you are a smoker, think about how your behavior affects those around you.
If you run a company, make sure your processes have minimal impact on the environment.
And that's not all!
Being considerate of other people also means taking the time to teach those around you about applying leave no trace principles in their everyday life.
It's Time We All Played Our Part
If everyone practiced leave no trace principles in their everyday lives, the world would be a better place.
However, it starts with you.
Play your part, and practice some of the tips explained in this post. What tips will you introduce to your everyday life? Please tell us in the comment section below.
And if you're looking to purchase high-quality outdoor apparel, check out our online store here. At Northbound Gear, we look to ensure that we apply leave no trace principles during the manufacture of our products.