Hiking can be a nice activity in order to relax from your stressful job and to improve your inner connection with nature. However, when I go hiking, I see plenty of trash in our forests, lakes and rivers.
People often just litter and dispose their garbage into nature right where they stand instead of taking it back home or disposing it on official sites.
There are several other issues that can be observed which can destroy our experience while hiking and can also harm our environment.
In this article, a variety of tips on how you can make your hiking experience greener are shown.
When you go hiking, it is crucial that you do not start campfires in the wilderness. Campfires are quite nice, however, they can lead to serious wildfires which can lead to the death of many animals in plants.
Instead of starting a campfire in the wild, start your campfire at designated places where they are officially allowed.
By doing so, you can avoid trouble with official authorities and you can also protect our local flora and fauna.
You should also make sure that you use eco-friendly hiking gear. This includes shoes, hiking poles, sun glasses and other gadgets made out of eco-friendly and sustainable materials that have been produced under fair labor conditions.
By using these kinds of hiking gear, you can make sure that you improve your ecological footprint and also support poor people in third world countries with a fair wage so that they can provide for their families.
You should also stay on the trails when you go hiking so that animals are not get disturbed while breeding but also to ensure your own safety.
Especially if you go hiking in the mountains, leaving the track can be a mortal danger since you may fall of a cliff.
Thus, don’t leave the trail if you are not 100% sure that you are not threatening the local wildlife and also your own life.
In general, you should always avoid the production of waste since waste has become a serious global environmental issue. Waste has either be burned or disposed into landfills in order to get rid of it.
However, burning waste implies the emission of harmful gases into our atmosphere, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Disposing waste into landfills often leads to soil and water pollution.
Thus, in order to reduce those negative environmental effects from waste, we should all try to reduce our overall waste production. This is true when you are at home but also when you go hiking.
Therefore, when it comes to decisions related to hiking, make sure you choose the option which implies the lowest amount of waste, everything else equal.
It is also crucial that you safe energy whenever possible since most of our energy is still produced with the help of fossil fuels which in turn contribute to global warming and air pollution.
For your hiking trip, this means you could use solar chargers instead of conventional chargers or solar candles instead in order to save electricity.
However, keep in mind that these devices often only work when the sun is shining. Thus, you should also have a backup for rainy days in order to ensure your energy supply.
The use of bottled water is still quite common in our nowadays society. However, it also implies the production of large amounts of plastic waste. Therefore, in order to minimize plastic waste production, you should try to rely on reusable water bottles instead of bottled plastic water.
This would greatly benefit our environment and may also improve your health level since water out of reusable bottles is often considered to be healthier compared to drinking water out of plastic bottles.
When you go hiking and want to wash your hands or clothes in creeks, never use conventional detergents! These detergents often contain plenty of harmful chemicals which can harm fishes and other water animals and plants.
Instead, you can use soap nuts. Soap nuts are fully organic and have a good cleaning potential. By using soap nuts instead of conventional detergents, you can save the local flora and fauna and can still get pretty decent cleaning results.
For hiking but also when you are back home, you should make sure that clothes you buy are made out of natural and sustainable materials with the use of fair labor. By doing so, you can protect our environment and also improve the labor conditions in poor countries where those clothes are manufactured.
Sustainability usually involves the four R’s. This means reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. Let’s look at this 4 R’s in detail.
Reduce means that you should reduce consumption and the resulting waste production whenever possible.
Reuse refers to the state where you do not dispose your old things into the garbage but rather give them away to family or friends for free.
If no one wants to have your old stuff, at least make sure that you separate your waste in order to make it recyclable.
Finally, you should also try to repair your stuff in order to avoid waste and to protect our natural resources from depletion.
You should follow this concept in general, but also when you go hiking. Reduce your waste production whenever possible.
Reuse your things multiple times instead of disposing them into the garbage after a few or even after a single use.
Make your trash recyclable by separating it properly. If your hiking gadgets are broke, try to repair them instead of disposing them into the garbage.
For sure, you will not be able to meet all the criteria at every hiking trip, however, it is worth some efforts to improve your ecological footprint and to protect our natural resources.
Since single-use items always imply the production of excessive amounts of unnecessary waste, try to use reusable stuff instead of single-use items. For instance, this could mean using rechargeable batteries instead of single-use ones. It could also mean not to use disposable cutlery or plates for hiking.
Also make sure to take care of your belongings while hiking. Hiking equipment can be quite costly and also involves the use of precious natural resources. By treating your hiking equipment in a proper manner, you can make sure that it works for a quite long time, which will not only benefit our environment, but will also lower your hiking expenses.
Especially when you go hiking on sunny days, the use of sunscreen is crucial to avoid sunburns and to minimize the risk for skin cancer. However, conventional sunscreen often involves the use of chemicals that can be harmful to our planet and which can also contribute to ozone layer depletion. Thus, instead of using conventional sun cream, try to use eco-friendly sunscreen instead.
When you go hiking, make sure to internalize the concept of leaving no trace. This concept basically states that you should take all the stuff you brought with you and leave no trash or other things behind so that other hikers can also enjoy the beautiful nature instead of looking at trash from other people.
Thus, make sure to leave no trace whenever you go for a hike in order to ensure a nice experience for other hikers and also to protect the natural habitat of animals and plants.
Some natural areas are breeding grounds for a variety of animals. Thus, if there are areas that are prohibited for humans, do not enter those areas. Entering those areas would disturb the local wildlife and may destroy the breeding grounds of those animals. Instead, respect those prohibited areas and stay out of them!
Some famous hiking spots are quite crowded in main season. This will not only lower your experience since it may be quite stressful but may also hurt a variety of animals since it is against nature for them to be surrounded by crowds of people.
Thus, whenever possible, try to go hiking in off-season rather than in main season, especially when it comes to destinations that are quite famous. By doing so, you can improve your own natural experience and also protect the local flora and fauna.
In general, you should avoid crowded tourist destinations. For instance, the Mount Everest has become such a famous destination that there are large crowds in main season which want to climb to the summit. However, this also implies the excessive pollution with waste in the area.
Therefore, you can do yourself and also nature a favor if you refrain from visiting those crowded destinations and watch out for alternative routes instead.
When it comes to buying souvenirs or to choose an accommodation, make sure to support locals instead of travel companies. By doing so, you can ensure the livelihood of locals and you can also contribute to better living conditions for them.
However, make sure not to buy souvenirs that are made of protected animal materials or plants in order to avoid trouble with official authorities.
Using convenience food for your hiking trip may be the easiest way to ensure your food supply, however, it often involves the use of disposable cutlery and plates which in turn leads to excessive unnecessary amounts of plastic waste.
Instead of using convenience food, try to prepare your own food in the morning and use a lunchbox made out of metal which can be reused multiple times.
Especially when you go hiking in foreign countries, make sure to respect the local customs and cultures. By doing so, locals will be much more friendly since they realize that you actually respect their way of life. Moreover, it would also be great if you learn a few words of the local language so you can ask for help if you got of track.
Whenever you see other hikers who behave in a quite eco-unfriendly manner, try to convince those people to change their behavior. Many hikers are still not even aware about the importance to protect our nature. Thus, by having the courage to speak up, you can multiply your positive environmental effect while hiking.
When it comes to buying decisions regarding hiking gear, always make sure to think long-term. Sometimes, it is better to invest a little bit more money and to buy high-quality and durable things instead of cheap crap that has to be replaced every year.
By thinking long term, you will not only improve your ecological footprint since you reduce your waste production but you can also safe significant amounts of money.
There are plenty of ways how you can make your hiking experience more sustainable and eco-friendly. Most of them are quite easy to implement.
Thus, it is on you to take the steps necessary to protect our environment and to ensure a livable future for the next generations, not only when you go hiking but also for all other parts of your daily life.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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