If you have taken part in a Fjällräven Classic, or another outdoor event organised by Fjällräven, then you have probably heard a lot about the importance of leaving basecamp in better shape than you found it. We believe so strongly in this principle in fact, that we have been working with The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for years; consulting them to ensure our events have minimal impact on nature.
What is The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics?
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, often referred to as Leave No Trace, is an international non-profit based dedicated to protecting the outdoors by teaching people to enjoy it responsibly. Headquartered in the “outdoor state” of Colorado, much of Leave No Trace is based on “Seven Principles” that minimise the impact one makes while enjoying the outdoors. These are: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimise campfire impacts; respect wildlife; be considerate of other visitors.
Committed to education right now, Leave No Trace also has a long-term vision of building an environmentally responsible global citizenry. These people would then create a sustainable future for the outdoors, and the planet.
As an Arctic Fox Initiative recipient in 2019, Leave No Trace has made significant strides in spreading their philosophy and activities to outdoor enthusiasts around the globe. Specifically, they have used the Arctic Fox Initiative funds to offer more educational content and also increase outreach around their Respect Wildlife program. As Executive Director Dana Watts says, “With Fjällräven, we are helping protect natural areas, strengthen our volunteer network, and enhance Leave No Trace education efforts. Together we are bringing Leave No Trace Ethics to outdoor enthusiasts across the globe and leading stronger protections for natural resources.”
Reducing the impact of plastic in nature
The responsibility we each have to protect nature when we are enjoying it is only growing. And the role of Leave No Trace is becoming more vital. This is especially evident in 2020 and 2021, when more people than ever are exploring the outdoors. Director of Corporate Development, Dean Ronzoni explains: “We are in a crisis that’s only getting worse. Nine out of ten people have experienced some misinformation about how to behave when they’re in the outdoors”.
Once again an Arctic Fox Initiative recipient in 2021, Leave No Trace is providing more content to help people understand the importance of behaving considerately in nature. For example, they suggest planning hikes, camping and multi-day treks with litter reduction in mind. Especially plastics, which Dana says persist in the environment and cause considerable harm to wildlife:
“Plastic bottles, containers and bags can be mistaken as food and become lodged inside the stomachs and digestive tracts of animals, large and small, often leading to death. As plastics break down in the sun, they never truly biodegrade like organic materials . . . Instead, they become tiny micro-plastics . . . According to the Ocean Conservancy, eight-million metric tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year on top of the estimated 150-million metric tonnes that currently circulate in the marine environment”.
Check out some of their tips:
Tip 1: Understand the recycling system for the area you are visiting. Follow the posted signage, or go online for information about what is recyclable, and what is not.
Tip 2: Pack it in, pack it out. According to Leave No Trace’s “Zero Landfill Initiative” research, 66% of visitors to parks disposed items in the parks. Trash build-up is a big issue, so Leave No Trace asks outdoor enthusiasts to make choices that either reduce their trash in the first place, or take trash home rather than disposing of it in overflowing trash cans.
Tip 3: Use reusable water bottles, coffee cups, cutlery and napkins. It is one of the easiest behaviours we can change. Coffee cups in particular, are a high source of contamination in recycling streams as they cannot be recycled.
Tip 4: Use your own bag for shopping and groceries. It is one of the easiest ways to cut down on plastic consumption.
Reducing plastic every day
But what about plastic litter reduction in everyday life? Leave No Trace suggests organising a trash clean-up with their organisation. Clean-ups are also a great way to enjoy the outdoors, especially during times of social distancing. It’s straightforward to set up. Just follow these steps:
Step 1: Choose a location. Try to avoid times and places of high traffic and choose areas where social distancing is possible.
Step 2: Make your own clean-up kit, including a mask or other face covering, water, hand sanitiser, trash bag and gloves.
Step 3: Invite participants. Bring along a few friends or think about how to get your community involved. Follow local guidelines on group sizes and make sure everyone is socially distanced.
Step 4: Organise the trash. Does the area you are cleaning recycle? In that case, separate recyclables from general trash. Be careful with hazardous trash like glass or needles. If children are present, they should know to tell an adult if they find such items.
Would you like to learn more about Leave No Trace? Visit their website. Or check out the other Arctic Fox Initiative recipients that are protecting and improving nature with bright ideas and inspiring projects.