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Keep Hiking Trails Litter-Free | There’s nothing better than the scenic views and immense beauty of a hiking trail on your day off. The sense of relaxation you feel wandering down a trail and admiring the unspoiled nature is completely unmatched by any other experience. However, we must also fulfill our responsibility and keep the environment clean to ensure our experiences at a trail are always enriching.
The essence of a good hike lies in the experience that comes with it. No one would want to go back to a trail where all they step in or smell is litter or are greeted by a sight of pollution. Unfortunately, it’s easier to litter such places, given how high the influx of hikers is at times, but a little effort on a personal level can go a long way to ensure that these wonders of nature are.
Over the last few years, hiking has become immensely popular among individuals who turn out in hundreds to rejuvenate and enjoy nature’s bounty. However, with more and more hikers turning up every year, it’s only natural to expect they will leave traces behind.
We may think that litter thrown by an individual is not detrimental enough to the environment, but that’s not the case. When you leave litter behind, it degrades gradually, meaning it will stay there even for years to come. Therefore, effort on an individual level matters, and if we cannot eliminate the practice of throwing litter, we should at least minimize it.
Take a cigarette butt, for example. Sometimes, it can take up to ten years to decompose into the ground fully. Even something as light as a piece of tissue paper can take up to two years to break down. So imagine what plastic waste can do to the environment when it easily takes hundreds of years to degrade.
Moreover, various other forms of litter take even longer to break down, which means they will stay where you leave them and continue to harm the environment.
Litter-free hiking is not as hard to pursue as we may think. The principle is simple, you can hike all you want, and in the process, you must not leave a single trace behind. So what do you do about all the snacks and waste bags you bring along? And what about when you bring a pet along?
More recently, the trend of bringing your pet dogs along on a hike has also increased. This means you and your dog will both leave traces behind, causing more harm to the environment.
However, if you think the impact of leaving trash behind is limited to the environment alone, you’re wrong. It also has an impact on the health of other hikers and their pets.
The best way to minimize throwing litter around is to carry your own litter home. This way, you’ll know that there’s no choice but to pick up after yourself and take everything back home.
Another way to ensure you don’t leave a trace behind is to use the litter bins effectively. However, the problem with litter bins is that instead of reducing the problem, it may end up exacerbating it.
Moreover, you will hardly come across enough of them on hiking trails and national parks because the idea is to enjoy nature without having the foul smell of litter all around you. Some hiking trails, however, have waste collection points right at the beginning where you can trow away trash and recyclables accordingly. Again, it’s better to go prepared than unprepared because it’s unreasonable to expect every hiking spot to have such facilities.
When you’re planning to go out, especially to an area far away from the city, you must pack smart. With regards to food, only take as much as you need, or slightly more but make sure to opt for environmentally friendly packaging. As a hiker, there are several options you can explore when packing your food, such as resealable freezer bags and containers with lids.
The key to a great hike is to carry as little as possible, and the less you have, the less likely you’ll leave stuff behind. Apart from essential items, it’s recommended not to bring any unnecessary items that may weigh down your rucksack. The lighter it is, the more you can fill it with rubbish that you can later dispose of properly at home. If you do end up taking a lot of stuff along, make sure to take enough resealable bags, too, because bags of this nature can handle rubbish from even a week-long hike.
By looking after nature on a personal level, you’re not only clearing your path but are also doing a service to society at large. Efforts on an individual level and small steps are the keys to making a huge impact after all.
Never leave your cigarette butts behind because not only will they not break down, but they will also be hazardous to an animal who tries to swallow them on the way.
In the end, ensuring that you do not leave your waste for someone else to pick up is the least you can do as a responsible hiker to ensure not only your own comfort but also those who come after you.