Leave No Trace

BY: The Outbound Collective

Make the outdoors better for you and for others.

More of us are getting outdoors than ever before. We’re breathing the fresh air, getting the shot, taking in the view...and it’s great. To appreciate and protect the natural world, we need to experience it. But, as with any new experience, there’s a learning curve, and there are some things you need to figure out. Getting outside is no different.

That’s where Leave No Trace comes in. The folks at Leave No Trace have defined a list of principles for experiencing everything the outdoors has to offer while leaving minimal impact. These aren't just principles for the backcountry, they are a guide to reduce your impact whenever you're outdoors.

There are seven core principles of Leave No Trace:

  • Plan and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors 

To dig into more detail on the Leave No Trace principles check out this story by Sarah Seads.

It All Adds Up

The great thing about these principles is that they’re easy to practice anytime you go outdoors, whether you’re on a picnic at a local park, chilling with friends in the backyard, or spending a day at the beach. Leave No Trace will help you minimize impact in everything you do.

It’s the small things that can make a difference, like checking the weather and knowing that it might rain on your afternoon hike. You’ll be able to pull out a raincoat instead of going off-trail to seek shelter under a tree. Or, picking up crumbs off the picnic table so that wildlife doesn’t get habituated to human interaction. 

Want to make it a game? Use Litterati to map and track each piece of waste you pick up. You can keep a running count of your positive impact, and the data helps communities track litter patterns. You'll be surprised at how quickly your eye will begin to notice litter in the world around you, and you'll feel great about being a part of a community picking it up. 

Leave No Trace is all about learning the basics and passing them on. Though at first they may seem like big changes, these principles will quickly become a natural part of your outdoor experience. With a few small steps and a willingness to share your knowledge, the places you love can stay in great shape for other visitors and your next visit.

Leave No Trace Hot Spots

Around the United States, some natural areas are getting “loved to death." The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics started the Hot Spot Tour to bring these areas into the spotlight and aid the local community in developing a recovery plan.

For the 2019 tour, Leave No Trace received over 120 nominations for landscapes in need. After selecting 19 landscapes, the organization started working with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, state agencies, non-profits, and land trusts to build programs that address the core issues affecting these landscapes. 

Education programs, service projects, and follow-up programs put heavily impacted areas back on the road to recovery and give the core user groups tools to keep them healthy. Check out this year's hot spots–and the steps being taken to protect them–on the Leave No Trace website.

Keeping the lands and waters we enjoy ready for our kids, and our kid's kids, is up to all of us. Practicing Leave No Trace every day will help us get there.