9 Best Practices to Keep Your Hike Environmentally Friendly
Aside from being an enjoyable and athletic activity, hiking allows you to be one with nature. Nonetheless, this is one hobby that requires your utmost respect for the environment.
That said, we have listed down nine tips on how you make your hike environment-friendly:
1. Bring a reusable water bottle
There is nothing much to gain from a single-use plastic water bottle. Hence, whether you are a first-timer or an avid hiker, it would be ideal to invest in a reusable water bottle instead.
For one, a reusable water bottle is less likely to end up in landfills. Not to mention that it results in less carbon footprint during production. And most importantly, it allows you to protect marine life.
In case you do not know, it takes more water to produce a plastic bottle than the amount of drink that you put in it.
2. Stay on marked trails
Hiking trails allow you to easily identify routes to ensure your safety and to protect the environment. How? By informing you on which parts of the trail are open to the public.
Here’s what can happen when you go off-trail:
- You can unknowingly trample fragile soils and surface vegetation.
- Damaging the surface vegetation can disrupt the food source of wildlife.
- You can disturb the organic matters that protect the land from erosion.
That said, stay on the marked trails when hiking and keep the stones unturned.
3. Don’t feed the animals
Aside from staying on the marked trails, you should also keep in mind that feeding the animals is prohibited.
That’s because our food is less likely health for wildlife animals. Not to mention that they do not need feeding to survive. They can forage it themselves.
Feeding the animals, no matter how pure your intentions are, will only teach them to be dependent on people. And this can be detrimental to them in the long run.
4. Leave no trace behind
“Leave No Trace” is a resource stewardship practice that allows you to enjoy nature without making too much of a negative impact.
According to the people from Turpin Meadow Ranch in Wyoming, USA, the Leave No Trace principle includes the following:
- Prepare and plan ahead
- Camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of your waste properly
- Don’t disturb the native flora and fauna
- Use established fire rings when using a campfire
- Respect the wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
5. Make and bring your own food
Meal packs may be convenient but they are not a sustainable option when hiking. It would be ideal to make and bring your own food when hiking. Doing so allows you to reduce packaging waste and minimize food miles.
The food you can make for your hike includes muesli bars, hard-boiled eggs, and even hot soup in a thermos.
Just keep your hiking schedule in mind so that you will know what kind of food you should make and take with you.
6. Dispose of your trash properly
Here’s the thing: It does not matter if you have sustainable hiking gears if you do not know how to dispose of your waste properly.
In fact, you cannot throw things away when hiking. Yes, even organic waste such as an apple core, as these are not native to the environment you are in.
So might as well create as little waste as possible, limit your number of single meal bags, and always have garbage that you can bring and dispose of properly once you are done with your trip.
7. Do campfire in an open area
Recently, we have heard of the news about devastating wildfires in the Amazon and in Australia. Hence, as a hiker, it is important to do your part in ensuring that these unfortunate events will not happen wherever you are.
So if you are making a campfire, be responsible, and do it in an open area. Never leave it unless it is extinguished properly. Mind you, even dying embers can be a huge fire hazard.
8. Choose sustainable gear
If you are new to hiking, we suggest that you look for gears that are made of high-quality and sustainable materials.
Meanwhile, that does not mean that you should buy a new pair of trekking poles just because your existing one is not made of bamboo.
It takes a surprising amount of energy and natural resources to make a hiking gear. Hence, we advise you to save up and buy something of top quality. Doing so prevents you from replacing your hiking gear often, which can increase your carbon footprint.
9. Keep your dogs leashed
Hiking is not just for humans. In fact, your furbaby can be a great hiking companion. However, there are a lot of things that you should consider.
Are dogs allowed in the trail? Were you able to pack your pet’s needs? How can you clean up after your four-legged companion?
And most importantly, you should make sure that your dog is leashed. That’s because not every hiker you will meet on the trail will like your pet. Not to mention that it prevents them from chasing animals who are in their natural habitat.
We have various reasons for taking a hike. However, that does not give you the right to interfere with how nature works. Not matter clean your intentions are, it is important that you practice sustainable hiking.
Writer: Geraldine Mills.