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  • Writer's pictureDorien Scheets

5 Tips to Hike More Sustainably in 2023

Hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature, breathe in the fresh air, and rejuvenate our souls. However, as responsible outdoor enthusiasts, it is crucial to adopt sustainable practices to ensure the preservation of our natural environments. By making conscious choices while hiking, we can minimize our ecological footprint and contribute to the conservation of these beautiful landscapes. Here are five tips to help you hike more sustainably.


5 Tips to Make Your Next Hike More Sustainable


1. Stick to Designated Trails

One of the essential principles of sustainable hiking is to stick to designated trails. Trails are carefully planned to minimize the impact on the surrounding ecosystem, including flora and fauna that may be potentially highly endangered. Venturing off-trail can lead to soil erosion, damage to vegetation, and disruption of animal habitats, causing serious issues that may actually cause a chain reaction of negative knock-on effects. By respecting trail markers and staying on the designated path, you can minimize your impact and help preserve the fragile ecosystems you explore. Also note that while its important to stick to designated trails, you may choose to explore a lesser-known trail with less traffic. By choosing a less popular trail, you're helping to distribute pressures on the area's environment and ultimately contribute to a healthier balance.


2. Leave No Trace

The "Leave No Trace" principle is a fundamental concept for sustainable hiking. Always pack out what you pack in, leaving no trace of your presence behind--and yes, before you ask, that includes fruit cores, orange peels, and sometimes your own fecal waste (if you can't bury it). Carry a sturdy trash bag with you to collect your litter, including food wrappers, water bottles, and any other waste. Dispose of it properly when you reach a designated trash bin. Additionally, avoid removing or damaging any natural objects such as rocks, plants, or flowers. Leave them as you found them, allowing future hikers to enjoy the same experience.


3. Conserve Water and Energy

When hiking and camping out, it's important to conserve water and energy to minimize your impact on the environment. Carry a reusable water bottle and refill it from reliable water sources, such as streams or water fountains, when available. If you choose to take this route, consider buying a filter water bottle to keep your stomach safe from potential bacteria or parasite. Furthermore, avoid using single-use plastic bottles as they contribute to pollution. If you're taking a sophisticated camping set-up along with you on the trail, try using eco-friendly alternatives for energy needs, such as solar-powered devices or rechargeable batteries for your electronic equipment.


3.5 . Practice Sustainable Camping (bonus!)

If you plan on camping during your hike, adopt sustainable practices to reduce your environmental impact. Choose designated campsites to minimize damage to fragile ecosystems. When setting up your camp, follow the principles of Leave No Trace, including properly disposing of waste and using biodegradable soaps. Additionally, use energy-efficient camping stoves and pack lightweight, durable camping gear that will last longer, reducing waste over time.


4. Gear Up Sustainably

The best option for choosing sustainable hiking gear is, of course, to use what you already have on hand! You don't always need the highest spec gear to get outside and enjoy the spaces and places around you. By using clothing, backpacks, and hiking gear you already own, you stop the cycle of over-consumption in its tracks. If you do need to get your hands on some new equipment, though, I highly recommend buying pre-loved gear that is still in great shape with lots of life left. Or, if choosing to buy new, ensure you are buying from brands that produce their goods sustainably, ethically, and consciously. Some of my favourites are Patagonia, REI, and Cotopaxi. Lastly, take care of your gear to ensure it can take care of you for years to come.


5. Educate Yourself and Others

Knowledge is a powerful tool for promoting sustainable hiking practices. Educate yourself about the local flora, fauna, and environmental concerns of the area you plan to explore. By understanding the delicate balance of the ecosystem, you can take extra care to avoid damaging sensitive habitats or endangered species. Share your knowledge with fellow hikers, friends, and family to spread awareness about sustainable hiking and inspire others to follow suit.


Conclusion

Hiking provides an excellent opportunity to immerse ourselves in the wonders of nature. By adopting sustainable practices, we can ensure that these pristine landscapes remain unspoiled for generations to come. Remember to stick to designated trails, leave no trace, conserve water and energy, practice sustainable camping, and educate yourself and others about the importance of hiking sustainably. Let's strive to preserve our natural environments, not only for our enjoyment but also for the countless plants, animals, and future generations that rely on them. Happy and sustainable hiking!


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