Hiking offers a great opportunity to feel at one with nature, push boundaries and explore. At the same time, hikers can pose environmental problems, including soil erosion, disturbed wildlife, water pollution and accumulation of waste.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that 30% of the world’s protected areas are under intense human pressure, mainly from tourism. As a result, hikers should try to avoid overcrowding, littering, or disturbing wildlife when visiting natural and cultural heritage sites.
Hence, it would help if you practised some eco-friendly measures that leave minimal footprints. This post shares some eco-friendly practices for trekkers. By adopting these guidelines, you will become an eco-warrior princess or prince.
Top eco-friendly practices for hikers
Leave No Trace Principles
The Leave No Trace principles are guidelines for recreational activities in wilderness and wilderness-like areas based on scientific research and best practices. They provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors.
The principles can be applied anywhere, from remote wilderness areas to local parks and even in your own garden.
The 7 Leave No Trace principles are:
- Plan and Prepare: This involves learning about the area you will visit and preparing for weather, hazards and emergencies. It also means reducing waste by repackaging food and using a map and compass or GPS to avoid marking trails. For those planning treks in destinations like Everest, Nepal, or Peru, using a reliable platform for information and preparation is crucial. Responsible trekking resources can provide valuable guidance on eco-friendly trails and practices that align with the Leave No Trace ethos.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Stay on the best-maintained eco-friendly trails and designated campsites suggested by the best destination platforms to minimize the impact on the environment. Camp at least 200 feet away from water sources. Do not alter or create new campsites or trails.
- Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack everything you bring, including trash, food, and litter. Use toilet facilities if available, or dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, camp, and trails for human waste. Cover and disguise the hole when done.
- Leave What You Find: Do not touch or take cultural or historical artifacts, rocks, plants, or other natural objects. Do not introduce or transport any non-native species. Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Minimise Campfire Impacts: Use a stove for cooking and a lantern for light. Use existing fire rings, pans, or mound fires if you make a fire. Keep the fire small, and use only dead wood from the ground that you can break by hand.
- Respect Wildlife: Watch wildlife from a distance, and do not follow or approach them. Do not feed them, as it harms their health and behavior. Avoid disturbing wildlife during mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect other visitors and their experience. Be courteous and yield to other users on the trail. Step to the downhill side when meeting pack stock. Camp and take breaks away from trails and other visitors. Avoid loud noises and voices.
Following these principles will reduce your environmental impact and ensure that the places you visit remain beautiful and healthy for future generations.
Choose sustainable gear choices
You can choose from several sustainable lifestyle options. Hiking gear is another way to be an eco-warrior. Your gear choices can significantly impact the environment, depending on the materials, production methods, durability and disposal of the products you use.
Here’s an example of what you can do:
Choose natural or recycled materials: Avoid gear that is made of synthetic materials, such as polyester, nylon, or plastic, which are derived from fossil fuels and take a long time to decompose.
Moreover, many synthetic materials emit microfibres into the environment, harming wildlife and water quality. Instead, opt for a plastic-free trip or gear made of natural or recycled materials, such as organic cotton, hemp, wool, bamboo, or recycled plastic.
You could also choose to buy second-hand where possible.
Manage your waste effectively
One of the best ways to be an eco-warrior is to manage your waste while hiking. Waste management is crucial to prevent pollution, protect wildlife and preserve the natural beauty of the places you visit.
Here’s the best way you can accomplish this: Become more environmentally friendly by reducing your waste. The best way to manage your waste is to avoid producing it in the first place. You can do this by planning and preparing your food and snacks in reusable containers, using reusable water bottles and cutlery, and avoiding single-use items.
Conclusion: Adopting eco-friendly practices can make your outdoor adventures more meaningful and fulfilling. Remember, every action counts; together, we can make a difference for the environment and the future.