We all have a responsibility to look after the planet. After all, it is our only home. Whether you go out exploring, it’s important to be a responsible hiker. There are things we can all do to look after the environment around us.
Leave no trace
You may have heard of this already as it’s extremely important for all responsible hikers to remember. Leave no trace is a phrase commonly used to make sure the wilderness stays wild. You should leave every place you visit as if you were never there, ensuring that the nature around you stays untouched.
This is very important, especially to the wildlife and nature that live and grow in this area. It also keeps the area in its natural condition for the next hiker to enjoy as well.
A few simple things to keep in mind are: respect the wildlife, be considerate of other visitors, dispose of waste properly, travel on durable surfaces and don’t carve or scratch away at rocks, stone or wood.
Stay on the right track
With more and more people getting out there and exploring, it is likely that your favourite places to travel will become busier. With more people, comes heavier footfall and a faster impact on the environment.
To protect the environment, it is essential that you stick to the marked tracks and footpaths on your route. Sticking to the trail prevents trampling of vegetation and wildlife.
Don’t try to push past people or find an easier way down by treading through unmarked territory. Be patient, be careful and be considerate.
Take photos, leave footprints
Similarly to leaving no trace, it is important to leave every location and every part of nature as it is. If you see something you like, take a photo and move on. Don’t remove rocks from waterfalls or cairns. Don’t mark trees with directions or notes.
Respect the way things appear when you arrive, and ensure they stay that way as you leave.
Avoid single-use plastic
This is important, not just for a responsible hiker, but in everyday life, too. In order to protect our planet, swapping single-use plastic for durable replacements will ensure a cleaner, safer environment.
We bought some reusable food storage bags for daily use, especially when we’re hiking and camping. You can wash them and reuse them as many times as you need, reducing our plastic waste significantly.
We also use glass tupperware bowls to ensure our plastic usage is kept down to a minimum. Making small changes like these will have a much larger effect in the long-term.
If you’re planning on hiking near a village or small town, you should consider the local economy and what you can do to show your support. You travelled all this way, you should at least get to explore the local community.
You can use your phone, or ask a resident, for cafe/pub suggestions nearby or even shop for a little momentum at a gift store.
Pick up litter
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s still surprising how much litter we come across when we’re outdoors. You may even find that rubbish may accidentally fall out of your own pockets. Go back and pick up anything you think you may have dropped as well as litter you come across on your travels.
Even picking up someone else’s water bottle and discarding of it properly will help to protect the local wildlife and the appearance of the location.
Close the gates
When you’re in the country-side or on a walking route, you will find that there are a lot of gates to pass through or climb over. No matter how many you come across, and how small they may seem, you must always close them after you have passed them.
This is important for the local farmers to ensure animals don’t go missing. Making sure all gates are closed properly will keep yourselves, and the local animals safe.
If you’re going hiking with another group of people, do your bit to protect the planet by car sharing. Do as much as you can to lower the number of vehicles used in one trip, even if it is a tight squeeze for those in the back.
We would suggest using public transport when you can, but we understand that this can be very tricking when you plan on hiking or camping. So by all means, take a car, but try to minimise your carbon emissions as much as possible.
Offset your carbon footprint
To be a responsible hiker, it’s not just about what we don’t do (like leaving rubbish) but it’s about taking positive actions to help the environment.
It’s difficult to travel far without using your own car. That’s why for 2020, we have made a Carbon Neutral Travel Pledge. Each time we travel, we’re donating £5 (more for longer journeys) to The Woodland Trust, to help them plant a tree.
At the start of the year, we set a goal for our travel to be carbon neutral. To do that we were donating money to the Woodland Trust for each trip we made. We might not have travelled as much because of Coronavirus, but we're committed to keeping our pledge. Every £5 helps the Woodland Trust plant and nurture one tree. You can help plant more trees, too, by donating to our JustGiving page to support or visit the Woodland Trust website.
Are you a responsible hiker?
We hope this blog post will help to make an effect on the environment and our local surroundings. Do you have any advice that you would like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.
Leave a comment below or message us on Instagram.
Don’t forget to use #MakeLifeWild on social to share your photos with us. Happy exploring!