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6 Ways to Leave Hiking Trails Better Than You Found Them



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.




Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations



green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions



auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.


The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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