To leave no trace when camping, when in the outdoors or when in nature in general, great care is required and it's a goal that has to be somehow prioritized. It’s not always a simple thing to do: even the smallest drop of organic soap or the most harmless apple skin is a trace and some sort of pollution: in the long run, nature will suffer from it.
Indeed, there’s plenty of us who love being outside, free-camping, free-climbing, hiking, thru-hiking, or doing whatever other activity. If each one of us leaves behind that one drop or that one apple skin, Planet Earth will soon be covered with them.
“But it’s organic: soil will absorb it and actually use it as a fertilizer!”, many could object.
Of course, using biodegradable products or sustainable gear like this one can be a great start, but this doesn’t allow us to treat the outdoors as our own. Would you like it if someone threw away a banana skin in your garden just because it’s organic? How many times did you cringe in front of those tissues left behind in the bushes with the excuse the soil will decompose them eventually?
So, leaving no trace whatsoever when in the outdoors can be a great goal to respect nature, take care of our gorgeous Mother and allow everyone to enjoy the outdoors as immaculate as we found it. And here’s how to do it.
Plan ahead and prepare
Number 1 really is the number 1 thing to do when you want to leave no trace. Indeed, this will help you to know exactly what to expect and what you need to meet it. Do your research about the place where you’re going, the weather you’ll find and the general conditions you’ll have to face. Be sure to have with you all the information and gear you need, including maps, food, and water. Also, remember to prepare yourself to contain your waste and carry it back with you...all of it!
Camp on durable surface and beware of the soil you step on
Even if setting up your tent in a beautiful meadow can sound and look like the best and most spectacular thing to do, it might harm quite a bit the fresh plants and grass around you, which are often very sensitive and that might need a very long time to recover from the weight of tents and feet. So always pick hard, durable surfaces, possibly located far from water sources (where the most delicate organisms thrive) and make sure to stay on trails. And if you really have to go off track, then make sure you won’t all step on the same spot. Also, move your tent as often as you can!
Dispose of waste properly
As we said, don’t leave any waste behind you...and remember that this means your personal “bodily” waste too. Make sure to carry with you the right gear to contain all of your garbage without too much effort and dispose of it properly after. When it comes to cleaning dishes, the best solution is to use a multiple bucket system and a mesh strainer to strain your grey water. Always remember to broadcast your dirty water at least 200 feet away from your campsite and from water sources.
Also, collaborate with the environment: if someone before you did leave a trace, pick it up and dispose of it properly too.
Leave it as you found it
Simple, yet so difficult sometimes! Don’t pick anything, don’t leave your mark as a memory of you being there, don’t break pieces of nature, don’t change anything. Or it’s quite clear you’d leave a mark.
Keep your fire to the minimum
Fires alter the environment in many various ways. First of all, there’s always the chance of a wildfire if you don’t pay good and enough attention to it, or if you forget to put it down properly before sleep. But it’s not just that: to make a fire means to leave a big trace behind you, so keep it small.
Last but not least, make sure to get your wood from the ground and to get it where you are: don’t bring it from other places, or you’ll risk bringing with it many unwelcome diseases and insects that can cause much damage.
Is there really much more to add? Maybe it’s good to remind ourselves that wildlife shouldn’t be fed, even and especially when we’re talking about puppies. Also, it doesn’t need rescue and if you really think it does, then call a specialist and don’t act by yourself: you’ll probably end up doing the wrong thing. And respect its spaces, don’t get too close for the sake of a picture and leave it live peacefully, without interfering with its wilderness.
Remember you’re not alone
Not just in terms of wildlife, but also in terms of visitors. We are every day more, so be kind, patient and considerate of those who might be less experienced. Actually, give a hand and be a “teacher” if you can. Remember to share and not to compete and don’t think about any place as yours.