Green Hiking

Green HikingAre there ways that we can help the environment and attain green hiking status?  We have all been told to recycle, reuse and reduce our carbon footprint, but what about our outdoor activities like hiking?  What are some of the steps we can take to have a smaller negative affect on our environment?

Green Hiking Products:

  • Cookware: Bring reusable dishes, cutlery, cups and water bottles.
  • Flashlights: Use flashlights that are solar charged, hand cranked or have lower levels of power requirements (LED rather than incandescent).
  • Recycle: When unpacking upon arriving home, separate the trash and recycle those items that can be.
  • Organic / Natural / Biodegradable: Use products that have these distinctions.  This includes; soap, shampoo, bug spray, deodorant, sun screen, fabric and boot water proofer.
  • Gear: There are many green hiking products available today that are environmentally friendly.  These include:
    • Hiking Boots: These are made from recycled materials.
    • Backpacks: There are backpacks constructed with a hemp/recycled polyethylene material.  Some are made from recycled nylon.
    • Sleeping Bags: Made from natural fibers and recycled insulation.
    • Tents: Made from recycled products.
    • Utensils: They are made from Bamboo and the holder is made from recycled PET bottles.
    • Clothing: Made from recycled polyester and nylon.

Green Hiking Actions:

  • Leave No Trace: When hiking, camping, backpacking or partaking of any other outdoor activity, it is an eco friendly idea to leave the area in the same shape as when you arrived.
  • Campsite Choice: When hiking, if there are designated campsite areas, then camp there.  This one is pretty obvious, but by camping in a virgin area, you can hurt fragile plants and their eco-systems.  If there is not designated campsite areas, then camp on durable surfaces; rocks, firmly packed dirt, sand, pine straw, gravel and/or dry grass.  When walking between campsites or from your sleeping area to kitchen area, don’t walk the same path every time.
  • Pack It In, Pack It Out: This includes all items.  Yes, hygiene products and toilet paper, did I mention all items?  If you want to go the extra green hiking mile, (pun intended) carry an extra trash bag and pick up other hiker’s trash on the trail.
  • Hike on the Trail: Another obvious item.  Also take into consideration, walking through a muddy area on the trail rather than around it.  If you step around the puddle and then 100 people behind you follow suit, then there are now two trails in that area.  That’s not green hiking.
  • Fire Building: The first thing that pops into people’s heads when the work camping is spoken is campfire.  If you don’t have to have a fire, don’t build one.  If you really want a campfire, then build it the green hiking way:
    • Don’t cut down live any branches.  Only collect fallen, dead wood.
    • Only burn wood, no; plastic, synthetic materials, aluminum cans, rubber or any other man-made material.
    • If you are at a campsite that has a fire pit location, use it for your fire.
    • Keep your fire small.
    • Build the fire using the Leave No Trace guidelines.
    • Most importantly, follow campfire guidelines for the area you are in.  Before starting your hike, find out all the regulations and rules for fire building.
  • Water: Set up at least 200 feet from any water source.  Don’t wash in a water source.  This includes you or your gear.

There are a lot of things that everyone can do to excel at green hiking.  Most are pretty painless and require very little effort.  Together, we can all do our part to help protect our environment.

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