How To Apply Leave No Trace Principles In Your Everyday Life

We all want to have a positive impact on the world, right?

And although it’s not totally possible or realistic to think we can avoid having an impact on the world around us, we CAN decide what KIND of impact we want to have on the world. πŸŒŽπŸ’›

Leave no trace everyday | stewardship beyond the trail | dare to be a wildflower

Why I’m Urging You To Apply Leave No Trace Principles In Your Everyday Life

So let me take a minute to tell you WHY this is SO, SO, SO important to me.

In 2018, I was miserable at my job and as a competitive weightlifter, I was spending WAY too much time inside of gyms throwing barbells over my head. 

So I quit my job and sold my stuff — not my gear of course, duh — and decided that I was going to start a travel blog and go travel the world indefinitely.  πŸ‘©πŸΌβ€πŸ’»βœˆοΈπŸ—Ί

Well, that’s NOT what happened. I’ll tell you what happened.

I spent the next year living in Thailand and Vietnam. And I was horrified at how wasteful the travel industry is. 😱

I was shook at how much single-use plastic was getting blasted through every single day. And in those countries, it is in your face. Because it’s a normal part of culture to dump your trash can on the side of the road. 

How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life | single use plastic in asia
Picked up these plastic straws (in one small section, there were a ton more) during a beach clean up in Da Nang, Vietnam. And this is supposedly the nicest and cleanest beach in Vietnam!

But I didn’t want to be a white person in a developing country telling them that some part of their culture is wrong and that they can do things better. 

And that’s when I knew. 

I knew I needed to come home and talk to my people. And that’s where you come in. You are my people. 

Nobody knows these trails, rocks, canyons, and beaches better than we do- because we spend all of our free time out there!

And so as outdoor adventurers and sleeping bag slumberers, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Leave No Trace 7 Principles.

Now as much as I’m tempted to talk about how to be a responsible pooper in the outdoors, one of my favorite things to talk about on the internet, I actually want to get your wheels turning about how you can start applying the Leave No Trace 7 principles in your everyday life.

Because not only are wild spaces worth defending, but this entire big, beautiful, blue planet is worth protecting.

So I have a proposition for you: I want you to pick one thing. Just one thing, to make your sustainable goal for the next year. And I want you to fight for it with both grace and tenacity.

Because just like a BIG summit, or leading a new climbing grade for the first time, It won’t be easy. And it’s most definitely not going to be comfortable.

But it’s worth trying hard for. πŸ’›πŸŒŽπŸ’›

Here are some ideas on how your can apply Leave No Trace principles in your everyday life.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

In order to quit single-use- you HAVE TO BE PREPARED.

How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life
How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life | amazon plastic free

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces 

Sustainable Travel

  • Air Travel: Traveling by air has a HUGE carbon footprint. Consider having an adventure in which you can travel by land like a road trip or cycle tour.
    • In 2017, my friend and I traveled the epically beautiful state of Alaska by train. It was so awesome getting to see the gorgeous countryside on the train and paint while sipping on a cup of hot coffee.
How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life | travel by land
Painting on the train in Alaska- highly recommended!

Related: How to Embrace Leave No Trace Principles When You Travel

Protect National Parks

  • National Parks: National Parks are more popular than ever! More visitors means more impact, and those impacts can accrue quickly having devastating effects on our public lands. 
    • Discover those lesser known, but just as wildly gorgeous places within driving distance from your home or from those ever-so-popular National Parks.
Radical resource library for wild womxn_access

Dispose of Waste Properly 

According to an EPA study conducted in 2017, it is estimated that each person in the U.S. throws out the equivalent of 4.51 pounds of waste per day. That… is… insane. 😱

  • Some ways you can be a responsible, low-waste rockstar include:
    • refusing single-use plastic.
    • making your own products.
    • starting a compost.
    • taking your e-waste to your nearest Best Buy or other e-waste collector.
    • doing a trash audit.

But I recycle so it’s it’s all good, right?

Hate to bust your ♻️ bubble, but RECYCLING IS BROKEN. Most items that end up in our curbside recycle bins never get recycled. They end up in landfills…

How to apply leave no trace principles to your everyday life recycle

Did you know that K-Cups are impossible to recycle? The type of plastic used that’s strong enough to withstand those hot water temps basically never breaks down and are simply impossible to recycle.

Do what you can to reduce your waste.

Leave What You Find

This is the part where we put our Responsible Consumer Hats on and decide what to leave and what makes sense to take (purchase and bring into our homes).

β€œThe most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.”  

Joshua Becker

Related: 42 Powerful Sustainability Quotes To Inspire Eco Friendly Living

This will be a challenge for many of us because trust me- there will be shiny things everywhere and always… and they’re only getting more convenient and cheaper to obtain.

Which totally ties in to the 5th principle…

Minimize Campfire Impacts

This is where out in the wilderness we ask ourselves, “What is the potential damage to the backcountry if I decide to make a fire??

Make this a part of our Responsible Consumer thinking process by asking ourselves, β€œWhat is the ecological impact going to be if I choose to buy this thing that I desire?

Whether that’s fast fashion or another cutesy doodley-bob in the Target $3 bin – whatever it’s only $3, right?

How to embrace leave no trace principles in your everyday life

Well when we think about it, Leave No Trace principles encourage us to use already established campfire rings. Look, the damage has already been done here so if we gotta make a fire, let’s make one here. 

Shop Second Hand

This outdoor ethics principle can be applied towards shopping second hand.

The environmental damage associated with resources, production, and distribution has already been created. The damage has already been done. So let’s acknowledge that there’s already an insane amount of things that already exist and try to give those things a purpose. 

Shop For Package-Free + Reusable Products

Instead of tampons or pads, invest in a menstrual cup (it will change your life, I promise!).

How to embrace leave no trace principles in your everyday life | menstrual cup

Instead of buying liquid shampoo in a plastic bottle, try washing your hair with a shampoo bar.

Respect Wildlife

Responsible Down

If you’re going to purchase gear that’s made with down, choose to support responsibly-sourced, traceable down.

Leave no trace rds responsible down standard 1

Seeing this Responsible Down Standard logo means that a third party auditor checked out the farm to ensure humane treatment of the ducks and geese. No live plucking. No dark and filthy living conditions. No animal abuse.

Eat More Plants

As a woman with a history of a nasty, life-consuming eating disorder, what I’m not going to do is tell you what your diet should look like.

What I will do is encourage you to look at the facts that animal agriculture and commercial fishing has on our beautiful planet and ENCOURAGE you to eat more plant based meals.

That is truly number one when it comes to decreasing your carbon footprint on the daily.

How to embrace leave no trace principles in your everyday life

You can also look into eating more locally grown food and try making some of your own favorite foods that typically come in plastic like hummus, salsa, or bread. 

Be Considerate Of Other Visitors

I want you to show those in your life, that living an eco-friendly lifestyle ain’t no thang.

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion

Paulo Cuelo

Listen… change starts with one person. And we only have one planet. Think about that one change that you’re going to make that’s going to make a whole heck of difference. And don’t just think about it- BE ABOUT IT!

Let’s do this! πŸ€œπŸ€›

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How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life
How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life
How to apply leave no trace principles in your everyday life
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