A Guide to the Sustainable Outdoor Adventure
By Lilly Miller
Spending time in nature is one of life’s greatest pleasures and something more of us should be doing on the regular. Outdoor adventures not only broaden our horizons but also improve physical and mental health.
However, when organizing your outdoor adventures, it’s important to be respectful and eco-friendly, in order not to disturb nature and all the beauties in it. Here’s how you can be more sustainable on your next outing:
Choose the right travel destination
It all starts with choosing the right destination for your outdoor adventure. Make sure to be careful where you go and choose a spot that’s sustainable.
If you’re staying in a resort or organized campground, check their eco-friendly practices. And make sure to conduct your own research instead of simply believing what destinations write on their websites.
Luckily, there are still so many destinations for outdoor adventures that are eco-friendly and care about the environment and the local communities.
If you want to be a green traveler, do your homework and pick a spot that’s sustainable and allows you to experience the outdoors without causing any damage to the environment.
To boost your eco-friendliness even more, try to focus on destinations that are closer to your home so you can save resources on travel.
Reuse, recycle, and repair your old gear
When preparing for your trip, make sure to pack well, but also focus on sustainable gear.
If you need to buy new gear, you can visit your local second-hand shops and get cheaper and often better-quality gear. There are also websites that offer second-hand gear that’s barely even used, so you don’t have to worry about the condition.
Another great idea to be a more sustainable outdoor traveler is to take your old clothing and gear, inspect it and repair the issues. Some holes and missing parts can easily be mended or replaced and you’ll end up with next-to-new products that don’t have to go to the landfill just yet.
Invest in quality new gear
In some cases, you really can’t opt for used or repaired gear.
When you need to buy new products, make sure to opt for high-quality items that will last you for a very long time. For example, when buying an otf knife, opt for a reliable manufacturer using the sturdiest materials and manufacturing processes.
With a reliable knife, you can make all your adventures safer and more practical. Plus, you’ll have great items to pass down to your kids or grandkids because the quality gear is basically indestructible.
Pack eco-friendly products
No matter how minimalist of a traveler you are, you still need to pack some hygiene products. Unfortunately, not all toiletries are created equal, and some can be very harmful to the environment because they take forever to degrade and disappear from water and soil.
Luckily, there are also products that are 100% biodegradable yet practical for use. Think natural soaps, biodegradable shampoos, and bamboo toothbrushes. Still, make sure to use these away from animals and water sources.
Leave single-use plastic at home
One of the biggest issues we’re facing today is single-use plastic, which is even banned in many countries and local municipalities.
Even if you’re organizing an outdoor adventure in a place that allows single-use plastic, make sure to minimize its use. For instance, instead of using plastic bags to pack your food and toiletries, you can use zip-lock bags that can be reused and repurposed many times.
Plastic containers are also a great idea that is lightweight and practical for the transport of more sensitive items. Pack metal plates and cutlery and focus on reusable bottles for your outdoor hydration.
All of these items will last for years until they need recycling.
Separate your trash
No matter how much you try to be zero-waste on your outdoor adventures, you will probably produce some trash, and that’s okay as long as you separate it and dispose of it correctly. And don’t think that you can throw organic waste into nature without any consequences.
For instance, meat leftovers or banana peels come from nature but they do not belong on a forest floor. When packing, bring a few trash bags so you can separate your waste into recyclables, compostables, and garbage.
This way, you can take your waste with you until you find a proper place to dispose of it.
Be careful with fire
You might be very experienced with outdoor adventures and know how to light a fire in your sleep, but still, it’s crucial to be responsible when handling an open flame.
Starting and maintaining a fire is not always eco-friendly, especially if you use trash as your fire starter. Many areas prone to wildfires don’t even allow open fires. Therefore, it’s best to bring a portable stove that’s easy to light up, manage and turn off when you’re ready to move. And these stoves are suitable for boiling water, preparing meals, and reheating dinner.
When choosing a portable stove to bring on your outdoor adventure, study the climate and see whether you should opt for butane or propane for fuel.
Choose human-powered activities
Outdoor adventures rarely just include “existing” in nature, and we often choose to take part in various activities.
In order to make your outdoor activities eco-friendly, make sure they are human-powered, such as hiking, trail running, biking, skiing, kayaking, etc. These human-powered activities use your body energy, produce minimal noise and pollution, and don’t require resources to provide you with a ton of fun.
Also, these activities are much healthier for your body and mind as well—it’s a win-win situation.
Follow the “leave no trace” philosophy
One of the best and most effective ways to take good care of the environment is to basically do nothing—leave no trace and not disturb nature.
Whenever you spend time in nature, make sure to take all your things with you and leave no trash or signs of human activity behind. When hiking and exploring, you’ll undoubtedly see many amazing things. While you can photograph them or enjoy them visually, don’t touch anything or bring it home.
A stone looks much better in nature than as a souvenir on your bookshelf. And a flower can have a significant role in the circle of life when it’s present in nature instead of wilting in your vase. The only thing you can take from nature is the trash you find along the way!
Work with locals
Some activities in nature require a guide (kayaking, cave exploration, etc.) so if you need an expert on your side, make sure to choose a local to guide you.
The best thing about local guides is that they know all the things about the area and can offer insider knowledge about all the best spots to see and all the exciting things to do. Also, they can share great knowledge of the history of the locality. Hiring local people is also good for the economy and you’ll be helping someone put money on the table instead of supporting greedy corporations.
As you can see, there are so many ways you can enjoy the environment without causing harm to it. Keep these tips in mind when planning your next outdoor adventure and you’ll come back home with many amazing memories that won’t awaken any guilt in you.
Protect the planet as best as you can, and you’ll be able to enjoy all its beauties for a long time.
About the author: Lilly Miller is a freelance writer, who focuses on interior design, well-being and sustainable living. She loves to experiment on daring new home decor trends and write about it as a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator. Settled in Sydney for the time being, Lilly shares home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. You can find her hanging out on Twitter.