Time to Hit the Trails: A Guide for Environmentally Friendly Adventures

Hiking has always been a gift to many, but this past year it really gained some traction and popularity. With travel being limited, the need to socially distance and people itching to get out of the house, many hit the trails in a big way. 
Hiking can be liberating, can give your soul a chance to just take a big breath of fresh air (& your physical body too!), allow you to see some beautiful things. On top of that, you get a workout. What’s not to love? So, in support of everyone getting outside and hitting the trails, I wanted to write this post to share some tips for hiking consciously to not leave behind any negative footprints, to pack properly and some zero-waste products that elevate a hike (see what I did there?).

 

It’s imperative to be non-intrusive and leave no trace. We don’t want to damage the flora or endanger the wildlife. So here are some ways to keep the environment safe and happy while hiking:

  1. Travel on the durable surfaces and trails. For one, treading off trail could threaten your safety. Secondly, there could be plants and flora that can be damaged beyond repair. Lastly, you could lay harm to wildlife or find yourself harmed from wildlife. 

  2. Be wise about fires. Find an open area and clear out any loose shrubs, leaves or vegetation that could catch fire. Before heading out, ensure that it’s completely out, including small embers before moving on by dowsing water onto them. Be extra vigilant if the wind is a factor. 

  3. Respect the wildlife. Observe from a distance, do not touch, give them plenty of space and be respectful. Move on pretty quickly after you have had a moment to take a photo and take it all in.

  4. If you smoke, do not litter your butts. Take them with you in your trash bag. They are not only hazardous to animals and the environment, they are also a wildfire risk. 

  5. Bury your solid waste (not to be confused with trash waste). Yes, bury your poop. You’ll want to find a spot roughly 200 feet away from any campsite, trail or water access. Dig a small hole 6-8 inches deep, do your business and then bury the solid waste back up. Once finished with that, cover with some rocks or sticks to prevent animals from digging it up. Even though toilet paper can be biodegradable, take it out with you (in your trash bag). If you want to take your sustainability to the next step, check out antimicrobial pee mats. This hole is referred to as a “cat hole”. If you’re in a desert or unable to dig into soil, you will carry out your waste in your trash bag. A lightweight aluminum small shovel will prove helpful here. 

  6. If you are planning on jumping into a body of water, be mindful about what is on your body. Bug repellents, sunscreens and sanitizers can be harmful to the ecosystem if they’re not free of harsh chemicals. 

  7. Use a reusable water bottle. If you’re going for a long period of time and will need to refill, bring along a lightweight water filter that is proven to remove bacteria and parasites from water so that you can fill up at a body of water. If it’s a hot climate, consider carrying a hydration bladder pack as well. These are lightweight but will hold liters of water and can slide easily into a backpack. This will eliminate the need for single-use plastic and keep you hydrated. 

  8. Build your own first aid kit. This way, you can eliminate single use items and cater it to your needs more. While building a first aid kit, avoid small single-use or travel sized products. Rather, use small containers with a strong seal to hold ointments, creams or alcohols from larger containers that you likely already own. You can put your DIY kit in a reusable bag to keep everything together and tidy. 

  9. Plan ahead for your food. It’s possible to eliminate pre-packaged items and pack less if you take into account packing foods with high protein and carbs. You’ll be expending energy and will want to be able to fuel up. Wrapping food in reusables will eliminate trash to carry out and will leave you with lightweight wrappings that you are left carrying.

  10. Be prepared. Read up on where you’re headed. Be aware of any rules or regulations. Have some knowledge on the local flora and wildlife. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll handle the trails and the more likely you are to leave no trace. This will also help you be prepared with procuring your gear which will give you the time and space to shop around for the most eco-conscious options. This could even make it’s way down to the type of clothes you buy to protect yourself and how they are made (look for responsible, ethical, fair trade and other certified brands). 

  11. Don’t take anything with you out of the trails. Leave behind rocks, plants and any other piece of nature that got your attention. 

  12. To help the local area which in turn helps give back to the parks and trails you’re enjoying, spend money locally and support the local economy and businesses. This also is something to consider if you are in need of a guide.

  13. If you have control over the situation, or a choice, find trails that are less populated. This will ensure that you can stay socially distanced and take your time and pause when needed. It will also eliminate the need to walk around others which will begin to widen the path and beat down the flora.

  14. Dispose of your waste properly. Carry it out with you. Bring a bag that can seal it up so there is minimal chance of it falling out & hang onto it until you get back out of the trails. 

 

 

What to pack? LYM has you covered for a few things:

  1. Non-Toxic Bug Repellent: it’s not harmful to the environment so while you’re spraying it onto yourself, you can trust that the residual mist isn’t affecting what’s around you. It’s safe for your body also and an effective repellent. Also available in a balm stick that is wrapped in cardboard. You’ll be able to apply it onto your body and rub it in and then easily store it in any pocket or bag. It’s lightweight and comfortable enough to even keep in a pant’s pocket. The plus side, the spray and the balm are both plastic-free bottles.

  2. Reusable Snack Bags: these can hold food, toiletries, gear and all that’s in between. While they are lightweight, they also have enough weight on them so prevent them blowing away by an accident. They’ll help to reduce the amount of trash once you are finished with what is inside. You can repurpose them for different things depending on the length of the hike/trip which makes them helpful in more than one way. Once they’re empty of food or supplies being used they can be used as a trash bag or to hold dirty items. When you get home, wash them out and reuse, reuse, reuse.

  3. Oral Care: Toothpaste tablets offer you the ability to brush your teeth with a little chewable tablet. In a container smaller than an ounce, you could carry two weeks worth of toothpaste. Generally speaking, they will not melt or get mushy. Carrying your toothbrush can sometimes be a bigger burden. If you’re limited with space and don’t have a sturdy toothbrush holder, there is a chance of your toothbrush becoming exposed in your bag. These bamboo toothbrush holders are durable, antimicrobial and fully enclose the toothbrush. The lid stays on tightly and has a hole so the toothbrush is able to dry out while commuting. You can slide this into any pocket or bag and trust that it’ll stay safe.

  4. Bug Repellent Soap and Lotion Bars: if you’re hitting the trails for a bit and will need to wash up, these two are easy picks. Both are non-toxic options that will help give you extra protection to repel insects in addition to any spray or balm. The soap is biodegradable and not harmful to the environment. You’ll want to be mindful about washing up away from waterways.

  5. Hand Spray: this one is obvious, just in case you need a quick clean up. This is without toxic chemicals and comes in an easy to spray plastic-free bottle.

  6. Cloth Napkins: these can be used to clean your body, wipe off sweat, wipe down utensils, wrap up a wound, cushion something in your bag and more. They’re cotton flannel so they’re super soft, lightweight and the perfect hand-held size. They can be used more than once and are quick to dry if you end up rinsing them off.

  7. Bamboo Cutlery Pouch: easy to clean, use and tote eating utensils. This durable pouch can clip onto your bag so you can easily carry it around, but is secure when the flap is closed to keep everything tucked in and clean. The knife, fork, spoon and chopsticks can be multi-use as well.

  8. Nipple Balm Herbal Salve: this is great for any raw or sore spots on the body from fiction of clothes or scratches.

  9. Reusable Sandwich Wraps: these lightweight wraps will secure a sandwich, or any other similar food items with their strings. The inside is easy to wipe clean and the outside is cotton flannel (and in the case of an emergency can be used to wipe something). Once you’re finished with what was inside (if you didn’t use it for something else while adventuring), it can fold up neatly and will not weigh you down. When you get back home, wash it and reuse, reuse, reuse.

  10. Fabric Bandaids: when building your first aid kit or just packing some just-in-case items, consider these fabric bandaids that are biodegradable. If you remove it when on the trail, you’ll still need to carry it out with your trash, but at least when you get home you can dispose of it properly.

  11. Facial Rounds: pack a few of these to keep stored for sterile use. They can be used to help clean wounds, help clean sensitive areas (if something gets in your eyes) or used to cushion any friction (tucked into a sock between your heel and the shoe). Once home, they’re washable and reusable. The pack comes with so many, you can dedicate a few to your adventure bag to keep them separate from the ones you use in your bathroom for apothecary needs.

  12. Shampoo Bar: if you’re headed out for a while, you’ll likely need shampoo. This bar is sulfate free, silicone free and paraben free. It won’t leave behind any harsh chemicals. Since it’s a bar, it’s easy to tote.

  13. Pocket Sized Notebook: If you want to take notes, record what you see or remember how the hike made you feel, consider this small spiral notebook. It’s made from recycled materials and will slide right into your bag.

  14. Rumble Go: this cold brew maker will eliminate the need to heat up water, brew coffee and carry all the gear that those steps involve. This streamlined mesh basket fits into any wide mouth bottle. Fill the basket with grounds before you go (to make storage easier), toss into the bottle and top it all off with water. Let it steep for 8-24 hours, pull out the basket and you’re left with concentrated cold brew. You can serve it cold (use cold water to steep it and your bottle should keep it cold) or you can heat it up. There will be enough to last you a few days or you can share with others. You do need to carry your coffee grounds out as they aren’t normally found in nature.

  15. Compostable Waste Bag: these bags are compostable, small and have a slight lemon scent. You can pack a few effortlessly and fill them up as you need to.

 

 

 

Thankful for a few tips from: https://experiencingtheglobe.com/eco-friendly-hiking-sustainable-tips-and-packing-guide/

 


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