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6 Ways to Leave Hiking Trails Better Than You Found Them

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Gros Morne National Park By Colin Delaney Via Flickr

With the days of summer winding down, we’re quickly approaching fall. Aside from football, pumpkin spiced lattes, and Halloween, this also means changing leaves and cooler weather … both of which make hiking a highly attractive pursuit.

If you’re going to be hiking this fall, though, make sure you leave the trails better than you found them. Here are six ways you can do your part.

1. Come Prepared


Nobody ever sets out on a hike and says to himself, “I’m going to be super irresponsible today.” Instead, most mistakes happen because hikers come unprepared and then make the wrong choices to compensate or “make do.”

“On hikes of any length and difficulty level, be sure to come prepared,” explains Powerstep, a leader in orthotic supports. “Bring water, insect repellant, sun protection and appropriate clothing and gear. Dress in layers and wear closed-toe shoes with ankle support and a shoe insole that provides the necessary support and cushioning.”

You’ll also want to make sure you tell someone where you’re going, in case something untoward should happen.

2. Break Up into Smaller Groups


Group hikes can be a lot of fun, but most people don’t realize how disruptive they can be. When you put a large number of people together on the same isolated stretch of a trail, you can end up impeding others from passing, making too much noise, and likely scaring off wildlife.

Not only does this lead to a less enjoyable hiking experience for at least some, but it also puts extra wear and tear on the trail.

3. Stay on Designated Trails

You’ll often hear people tell you to stay on the trail (and you’ll see signs to this effect too), but the logic behind the rule isn’t what you might think. Although getting lost is always a possibility, the real problem is that people can easily damage parks and natural landscape by going off the path.

As one park ranger says, “Going off trail causes erosion problems and could force land managers to close trails that we have fought so hard to keep open and negatively impacts our ability to open new trails.”

4. Collect Any Trash You Run Across

Not only should you avoid littering while you’re on the trail, but you should also do your part to clean up after the less responsible hikers that have tramped before you. It may be unsavory and irritating to have to clean up someone else’s mess, remember that you’re working to maintain sustainable environments that you and other hikers will be able to enjoy for years to come.

Carrying a small trash bag in your backpack is a great idea. It enables you to clean up without worrying about getting your own gear and supplies dirty or contaminated.

5. Respect the Wildlife

When someone comes into your home, you expect him to treat your things nicely and clean up after himself, right? Please remind yourself that you’re a guest on the trails you choose to hike.

In fact, from the perspective of the animals, you weren’t even invited. Respect the wildlife and do your part to stay as quiet as you can. If you see local critters, stop and admire them, but do not touch!

6. Follow Hiker Etiquette

Hikers have a sort of code of conduct. It involves fairly simple little rules, but following them means less general frustration and ensures everyone has a good time.

For example, uphill hikers have the right of way on small trails: You should step to the side if you see them coming. People hiking behind you should be given room to pass.

When you approach other people, let them know if you’ve seen anything they need to know about (snakes, trail obstructions, and so on). These may seem like small things, but all play a role in making you a responsible hiker.

Leave it Better Than You Found It

The moral of the story is to leave every trail better than you found it, if possible. Hiking trails are designed for people to enjoy, certainly, but you should remember that you’re trekking through a natural habitat that plants and animals depend on for their very existence.

Treat every trail well and leave nothing behind.

 

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.


While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.


One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.


1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.


4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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