Tips for Preserving Nature While Hiking
By Eric Minghella
When you head outdoors on a hiking adventure, you are having the opportunity to see nature up close. While you are out there enjoying what nature has to offer, you will want to stand kind to the animals that make their home there and do what you can to protect the great outdoors. You should stay alert and be aware of how your actions can harm nature. Here are a few tips for preserving nature while you are hiking:
- Take a reusable water bottle – About 80 percent of plastic water bottles end up in the landfills. That means more than 38 billion water bottles are thrown into landfills every year. Those water bottles are made of recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, but it takes them breaking into smaller fragments over time. Those fragments will absorb toxins that pollute water supplies and contaminate soils. So, take a long a water bottle you can use time and time again.
- Make your own snacks – Mix up your own trail mix and granola. That will cut down on waste, save you some money, and reduce packaging. You should then take those snacks along in reusable containers that you can just wash out and use time and time again.
- Stay on the trail – While it may seem harmless, wandering even slightly off the trail can be devastating to the environment. Stepping off the trail will crush plants and contribute to erosion. When other hikers see the crushed plants, they will follow suit and head the same way. When the rains come, it will cause wash-outs and damage the trail below. Even if there is mud, just trek straight through.
- Clean up – When possible, leave the area in even better shape than it was when you came to visit. If you have trash, take it with you so you can dispose of it properly. If you see trash left by someone else, be sure to pick it up and take it out. Trash can be life-threatening to animals, and it is also unsightly.
- Leave only with memories – Don’t take out any plants, pick flowers, or remove rocks. While it might seem like a single rock or plant won’t hurt anything, it can. And if you remove one, odds are someone else will do the same. Don’t damage the area. Remember many animals make their home there.
- Watch for wildlife – While you might only see a small creature like a chipmunk, you could encounter larger animals, such as a deer. You might even get sight of a skunk – which is something you definitely don’t want to approach. Always keep your distance. Don’t frighten the wildlife. Remember, you are visiting their home.
- Keep any fires small – If you build a small fire for roasting marshmallows or enjoying hot coffee, you should build the fire in a designated space with a well-built border on a bed of dirt or ashes. Just a single spark can cause a fire to spread quickly. Don’t risk it.
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