To hike, camp, and travel brings us closer to nature, but those activities can also result in unintentional damage through litter, pollution, energy use and more. The good news: That's a problem easily solved with a little conscientious planning and packing.
Sustainable stewardship can be achieved by utilizing portable energy, packing light and doing a little bit of research ahead of time. So, before you head out on your next adventure, keep these tips and tricks in mind and...
CARRY YOUR OWN SOLAR POWER
Whatever your power needs may be, save energy by harnessing the power of the sun in small solar panels that are easy to charge and won't add too much weight to your pack. They can be used to charge small devices, batteries, laptops, tablets and more.
STICK TO THE MARKED PATH
Trails are marked for a reason, and straying from marked paths can cause damage to native animals, plants and ecosystems. Check online or with visitor centers to ensure you know where hiking and camping is permitted before you leave.
If you're going to burn a fire while camping, follow local guidelines and rules closely. First, look to see if there is a no-burn policy in place for the time in which you're travelling. If you are allowed to build campfires, keep them small and contained, and make sure it's completely out before turning your attention away.
You can also help protect local species by ensuring the wood you burn is local to the area, as foreign woods can introduce foreign insects and pollen into the area.
USE BPA-FREE WATER CARRIERS
Hydration is key to staying happy and healthy, regardless of if you're hiking, camping, backpacking or travelling. Fight off thirst, save money and reduce waste by carrying your own water bottle or water pack. If you're camping, look into either sustainable water coolers or water filters.
Transportation is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — and that includes air travel. If you're travelling a long distance, flying will likely be the best bet — but you can help reduce your emissions by booking direct flights to your destination. It also helps to fly coach and purchase carbon offsets when you fly.
UTILIZE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
If flying isn't going to work out, public transportation will likely be the most environmentally-friendly way to travel. Riding a bus or a train will save on carbon emissions, and walking or biking could save you money, as well.
PICK UP TRASH ALONG THE WAY
Responsible stewardship can, at times, require you clean up after other people. While hiking, you can bring along a small bag to collect trash you find along the way. Believe it or not, this is an actual trend in Sweden called “Plogging.” Why not bring it to the United States, as well?
You can also reduce your own trash trail by ensuring you've removed all additional packaging from your own gear before you go camping or travelling.
USE NON-TOXIC SUNSCREEN AND BUG SPRAY
Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays and from nasty bug bites should be a priority when you travel, but you should also be aware of what's in your skincare products. Many sunscreens and bug sprays have dangerous chemicals that can negatively impact the ecosystem around you. Look for all-natural alternatives from companies like Goddess Garden and Stream 2 Sea, or look into making your own bug spray with essential oils.