Guest Blog Post: Personal Responsibility & Leaving No Trace

Today’s guest blog post is from Michael Katz of Earth River SUP, a business partner of The Center for Outdoor Ethics, the nonprofit organization which developed the Leave No Trace Principles: a set of principles that form the basis of an educational program designed to encourage sustainable behavior during recreational use of the outdoors. Since so many of us in the NWEI & EcoChallenge communities are lovers of the outdoors as well as advocates of zero-waste and living lightly, these principles provide a timeless reminder of how to minimize our impact on the places we love. Read on for Michael’s post on the seven principles of Leave No Trace. 

Northwest Earth Institute’s mission, simply put, is to inspire people to take responsibility for the Earth. EcoChallenge, a platform that helps organizations mobilize individuals to reduce their impact on the planet, is a means to that end. With similar goals, the Leave No Trace organization manages trainings, courses, and distribution of educational materials to instill and propagate this ethic, which has been adopted by various parks, recreational organizations, land management agencies, and educational institutions.

The original Leave No Trace Seven Principles are:

Plan Ahead and Prepare: This includes knowing the regulations of the area you’ll visit, being prepared, visiting in small groups, and repackaging food in order to minimize waste.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Remember to stick to established trails and campsites, protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams, and minimize your impact by walking single file on trails. In pristine areas, avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack it in, pack it out. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find: Preserve the past by examining, but not touching cultural or historic structures and artifacts. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

Minimize Campfire Impacts: Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals as feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Leave No Trace amplifies its message of personal responsibility through a network of partners, including businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions. Thanks to Michael Katz for sharing these reminders! You can learn more here. 



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