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How to love the outdoors (even more!)

How to love the outdoors
How to love the outdoors

I was lucky to grow up in a family that values the outdoors and taught me how to love, respect and preserve nature. Before and after every camping trip we picked up any litter we could find and “leave it better than you found it” was a frequently heard mantra.

After graduating college I worked for a company that was focused on outdoor conservation in Arizona. When I wasn’t running their social media accounts and writing blogs on how to keep nature beautiful, I was coordinating and hosting wilderness cleanups.

How to love the outdoors
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So from my childhood years spent exploring the great outdoors to my time working in the outdoor industry and through my own research, I’ve learned a lot about preserving the outdoors. While I don’t claim to be perfect, I am very mindful about the time I spend in nature and my possible impact on it.

This blog will review common practices to adopt when exploring the wild and will provide some tips on how to love the outdoors (even more)!

1. Follow the Leave No Trace Principles

How to love the outdoors

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) provide an easy-to-understand framework of practices that will minimize your impact on the outdoors. Here’s a brief overview:

Plan Ahead & Prepare

Planning helps you be prepared for the conditions of your adventure and ensures the safety of yourself and others. Be sure to look at maps, check the weather and know the skills of yourself and the people in your group. 

Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

When you spend time outside, your main goal should be to explore with minimal impact or damage to the land, waterways, plants and animals. Staying on the trails, camping in designated or already-used areas, and traveling on surfaces that withstand the impact of your travel (rocks, sand, snow, etc.) are all ways to do this.

Dispose of Waste Properly

The litter I see on trails (crying emoji). Please be sure to dispose of your waste properly to make everyone’s experience in nature more enjoyable! And waste includes your poop. Digging a cat hole and burying your toilet paper is a great way to leave no trace!

Leave What You Find

As much as we love to bring home cool rocks and pick flowers, it’s important to leave nature as you found it. Stacking rocks or carving your name into a living tree causes damage and only encourages others to do the same.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

With all the wildfires our world has experienced lately, it’s extremely important to think about your campfire impact. Consider the conditions and laws before building your fire – too hot or too windy? Better to skip it than get a fine or burn down the forest.

Respect Wildlife

For everyone’s safety, it’s important to respect wildlife – after all, you are in their home! Give them their space and don’t feed them.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Everyone in nature is just trying to enjoy their visit. It’s SO important to be courteous to others because when people are out in nature, they want to listen to nature. Excessive noise, wild pets or a trashed campsite take away from the appeal of the outdoors.

2. Cleanup after yourself (and others)

How to love the outdoors
Leave No Trace For hiking

While cleaning up after yourself is great, cleaning up after others is an easy way to make a huge impact!

I know you can relate when I say that every time I go hiking or camping, I find trash. It’s disgusting, infuriating, dangerous for wildlife but mostly, it’s sad. Nothing breaks my heart more than when I’m on a beautiful hike and I stumble upon a candy wrapper or 15 beer cans that someone carelessly left behind.

While I don’t suggest picking up things that could be harmful to you, I do suggest picking up litter you come across. If you get in the habit of picking up the trash on the trail that you otherwise would have stepped over, you are making a positive impact! And once you start doing it, you will notice just how much trash there is.

My favorite tip is to keep an old grocery bag and some gloves in your backpack for such occasions. And if you have some free time, why not head to your favorite local trail and do some cleaning? I promise you, your work will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

3. Make sustainable swaps

My 2021 Adventure Resolutions

While I truly believe using what you already own is the best way to be sustainable, there are some swaps that benefit Mother Nature. While I have about a dozen sustainable swaps I can mention, I’ll start with four easy ones. 😉

Grab a reusable water bottle

Our landfills are overflowing with plastic water bottles! Instead of throwing away 5-6 water bottles a day, ditch the plastic for a water bottle that you can use for years to come. The best part is there are SO many reusable bottles to choose from and in all different price ranges! My favorites are from Hydro Flask.

Try a menstrual cup

WAIT! Don’t skip this! I was really grossed out by menstrual cups too… until I tried them. I knowwww it seems disgusting but it works for me. I haven’t purchased tampons or pads in 5 years! My DivaCup has saved me a ton of money, it’s kept me from getting toxic shock syndrome, keeps harmful chemicals out of my body, and has reduced the amount of waste I produce!

Ditch plastic bags

Slowly over the years I have been building up my collection of reusable cloth and silicone bags. I use my Baggu bag for everything because it’s extremely cute and folds up into a tiny pouch. And recently I’ve started acquiring Stacher silicone bags to replace ziplock baggies. They are super easy to clean and silicone is a low-impact material so it’s an awesome plastic alternative.

Shop second-hand

I grew up thrift shopping so shopping second-hand is second-nature to me (see what I did there?). Almost all of my home decor and a majority of my clothing has been purchased at a thrift shop. Not only does it add some uniqueness to my home and wardrobe, but it also saves me money and keeps reduces the amount of waste going into the landfills.

4. Support companies that support the planet

My favorite boots are from Columbia!

Put your money where your heart is! Supporting companies that actively work to make the planet a better place is an easy way to love the outdoors. Check out some of my favorite companies that love the planet.

REI – Read about their environmental impact.

Columbia – Check out their corporate responsibility.

Patagonia – Read about their activism for the planet.

Hydro Flask – Learn about their story and awesome projects.

New Belgium Brewing – Beer with a mission?! Yes, please.

Dr. Bronner’s – My favorite cleaning products’ impact! 

Numi Organic TeaTea for a better world.

5. Use your voice and vote for the planet

The health of our environment is one of my top voter concerns. Whatever your politics, candidates at every level have have an impact on the environmental future of our planet. The next time you vote, be sure to check out your canditate’s views on the environment and climate change.

6. Teach others how to love the outdoors (even more)

How to love the outdoors

When it comes to teaching others to take care of the outdoors, please be kind. Remember that you were once new to outdoor adventures and made mistakes when you were learning about hiking and camping.

If it’s something you witness online, I suggest sending them a respectful direct message and if it’s in-person, I recommend aiming for a meaningful and educational conversation instead of shaming or throwing accusations.

Together we can minimize our impact in the wild to make it a place to enjoy for generations to come!

I really hope this article about loving nature and Leave No Trace helps you enjoy the great outdoors even more!

These days, we can all use an extra love (especially Mother Nature), so let me know your favorite ways to love the outdoors in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This blog post is written in reference to resources produced by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in relation to the Leave No Trace Seven Principles – © 1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

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Meet the author

Jacey West

My mission is simple: Inspire you to get outside. I like camping, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, and exploring National Parks. I’m passionate about sharing all the details of my adventure so you can plan some of your own!

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