Thanks for a great article, Taylor! It’s so encouraging to learn what others do to leave the “outdoors” better, cleaner, quieter than we find it. Love that tip to always be a learner! So easy to rest in the faulty notion that I’ve got it all dialed in.
I carry a trash bag and dog poop bags to pick up after lazy hikers and campers. People who let their dogs off leash rarely clean up after their dogs, in my experience. It’s obviously a pet peeve of mine. I am also shocked by the number of cigarette butts I find in the woods. Do smokers not get that butts are still trash? Ok, that’s another pet peeve. It comes from living in a National forest that was destroyed by a fire. I live near a dispersed camping area and I walk the trails cleaning up trash during the week when the sites are empty. I fill bags with shotgun shells, water bottles, cigarette butts, dog poop, cans, bottles, discarded clothing, ATV parts, oil bottles, paper…you get the idea.
We are member of Back Country Horsemen of America, and “LNT” is a primary mantra of the organization. Here’s a link to the national organization’s information, and if you explore the site a bit, you can find local chapters offering workshops & clinics on the subject. Yes, we’re “horsemen” and “horsewomen,” but all who are interested in trails and backcountry are welcome! We also create and maintain trails for all to use, so join in. BTW, we’ve shared camps with hikers more than a few times, and hauled a couple out who ran into problems. https://www.bcha.org/?s=LNT
Good piece, Taylor. I always try to take a bag with me on hikes or walks on the beach. There always seems to be trash to pick up. I used to take plastic shopping bags, but lately I have been using a paper shopping bag. If I’m home I separate recyclable things. If I find a trash bin in a public place I empty the bag into the bin and save the bag for the next walk. Every day is Earth Day in our minds!
We take several extra trash bags, the heavy duty kind, with us on each trip, even if it is a day trip to the beach.
On our last trip to the Guadalupe River by New Braunfels TX during spring break for some school districts (oops) we managed to drag no fewer than 39 beer cans, can rings, cigarette butts and 2 completely obliterated drunks out of the river.
We follow Gray water guidelines including capture and discard in drain where appropriate, we use biodegradeable soaps (Dr. Bronners) and screen out food particles, and discard on a thirsty looking tree far away from any watercourses should that be appropriate for the environment where we are…
Stay on trail / in campsite and don’t cut new trails.
Restack tumbled cairns should they be obviously this is a cairn and the rocks fell kind of thing.
If we are in an area where local collection of firewood is allowed, we keep our collection to a minimum, keep the fire in an established fire ring, and keep the fire as small as we can. Often I will use my twig burner stove instead of a full on camp fire should that be appropriate.
Now that we have kind of covered Leave No Trace, shall we cover Tread Lightly?
Lots of good info there on responsible off road operation.
Two tips for ya! First bring package foods personally love boxed pancakes with m&ms in the morming, its easy to clean and you can usually dispose of the box while going to the parking lot for your day hike starting point. Secondly bring two fabric laundry bags and any food tyat has a sent or dirty dishes (sometimes its too dark to clean) tie those suckers up like an outta reach piñata and avoid any pesky animals getti g at youe goods. Also highly recommend trail mix and water bags, its heavy to carry but much more refreshing than iodine tablet brown looking river water. One roll of toilet paper for the crew and a produce bag that hanhs out on a tree in camp for easy disposal oh lastly if tenting in wet lands bring a tent seal quick kit small like a littoe travel sewing kit, roll that tarp out and under itself for extra dryness under the tent (roll out!)