A big part of Plastic Free July is taking stock of the ways we use single-use plastics in our homes, workplaces, schools and other areas. In some way or another, these are all communal spaces whether that community is your family, co-workers, or neighbors but the outdoors is also a space for which we all share communal responsibility.
Whether it's planning your camping trip or picnic so that you Leave No Trace or learning and donating to local indigenous led programs of land stewardship, there are lots of ways to take responsibility for the impacts you have on your environment.
What is Leave No Trace?
Leave No Trace is a national and international program that works to research, develop and share a framework to assist people spending time outdoors about the impacts of their activities and ways in which they can minimize and reduce harmful impacts.
The seven principles of the Leave No Trace program are:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
If you are really into camping then you might already be applying these principles to some extent or another whenever you plan your trips. Knowing what resources and materials you’ll need, what the guidelines and regulations are, and how to safely contain your fire or when to bring a simple camp stove or candle lantern instead.
If you’re still new to camping or trying to figure out how to get started, the guidelines provided by the Principles are easy to understand and follow and backed by scientific research. There’s also lots of resources out there for new campers.
Companies like Halifax’s own Nova Camp provide cheap camping rental kits that contain everything you need to get started, so if you’ve been wanting to try camping here’s your sign from the universe.
Sleeping outside under the stars isn’t everyone’s idea of fun but if you like to plan picnics there’s still lots of ways to incorporate the principles of Leave No Trace into your planning and picnic-ing process.
For example you can cut down on the use and disposal of plastic utensils by getting the bamboo travel utensils. They come packaged in this perfect little hemp sleeve that means you can carry them with you to the beach, to the camping ground, or even just to work!
You can also make sure you’re being mindful of others who are using the space when you picnic anywhere other than your front yard. Encourage friends and family to avoid littering and keep their kids or pets from chasing or bothering local wildlife.
Go Beyond Leave No Trace
Historically a lot of conservation efforts have ignored or minimized the knowledge and participants of the indigenous people that were present on the land before settlers arrived. This is despite the fact that indigenous people are often at the forefront of land preservation efforts and often some of the worst populations affected by climate change and the effects of environmental racism.
Learn more about the work being done by indigenous leaders and programs in your local areas and look for ways to support and learn from them. Here in Nova Scotia a program that is working on the preservation of local food systems and the mentorship of both indigenous and non-indigenous youth is Reclaiming Our Roots.
Do your own research, and find causes that you believe in and can support. And let us know how you’re being #PlasticFreeOutdoors