othing feels more Earth-friendly than spending time in nature — hiking, rock-climbing, bird-watching,
kayaking and more. However, as more people explore the great outdoors, we face more trash, more humanwildlife interactions and greater risks to natural ecosystems.

The National Recreation and Park
Association, the Environmental News
Network and Backpackers Pantry lays out
ways for outdoor lovers to enjoy nature
and keep their carbon footprint low and
nature natural.


Items like toothpaste and soap can negatively affect the environment; in addition
to just not being part of that ecosystem,
many products contain chemicals that
may take a long time to degrade. Find
biodegradable products for when you’re

backpacking or camping in the wilderness
and away from managed facilities and
stay at least 200 feet from natural water
sources when you use these products.
Even water-soluble products like lotions,
oils and makeup can pollute water sources. Also avoid chemical insect repellents.


Trails and campsites should look as
unused when you leave them as when you
found them. In addition to picking up
trash, other ways to ensure you’re doing
this includes leaving anything you find
(though you can pack other people’s trash
out if you find it); minimizing the impact

of campfires if fires are allowed where
you’re camping; packing out any trash
you bring in (including items like toilet
paper and food waste); and keeping a
good distance from wildlife.


Often, the areas surrounding trails are
delicate ecosystems that are home to
thousands of plants, animals and microorganisms. Hikers tramping through
them can harm those ecosystems, speed
up soil erosion, contaminate water and
put hikers into closer proximity with
wildlife. Even one person going off trail
can cause damage, so stay on the trail

and, whenever feasible, use existing


Many national and state parks have shuttles to move people around. These often
run on natural gas or cleaner energy and
move more people than individual cars, so
whenever possible, use these transit options
instead of driving your own car. If that’s not
an option, look for bikes or horses as other
possible transit option. Also consider carpooling. Fewer cars also means less time
spent idling in line to get into parks.


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