Keep Nature Wild

- By: Safia Ohlson

Keep Nature Wild

If you know us, then you know that, in addition to offering the highest quality, plastic-free Body Wash, Haircare, Deodorant, Lip Balm, Bar Soap, and Hand Soap on the planet, our mission is to connect kids with the life-shaping perspective that comes from time spent in the vast, raw wilderness. A portion of all our sales goes toward a scholarship fund we set up with the Colorado Outward Bound School to do just that. 

To us, being in nature is a privilege. Whether we're in the back country or at a local park, our ethos is to leave it better than we found it. Leave No Trace is an amazing non-profit that provides innovative education, skills, and research to help people care for the outdoors. Their perspective is that educating people—instead of costly restoration programs or access restrictions—is the most effective and least resource-intensive solution to land protection.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. Although Leave No Trace has its roots in backcountry settings, the Principles have been adapted so that they can be applied anywhere — from remote wilderness areas, to local parks and even in your own backyard. They also apply to almost every recreational activity. Each Principle covers a specific topic and provides detailed information for minimizing impacts.

The Seven Principles are well established and widely known, but they are not static. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics continually examines, evaluates and reshapes the principles. The Center’s Education Department conducts research — including publishing scholarly articles in independent journals — to ensure that the Principles are up to date with the latest insights from biologists, land managers and other leaders in outdoor education.

With thanks to the Leave No Trace website, here are the basics of their Seven Principles. We suggest visiting their site to read the full instructions of these principles and to discover and initiate volunteer opportunities within your own community.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Adequate trip planning and preparation helps backcountry travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously minimizing damage to the land. Poor planning often results in miserable campers and damage to natural and cultural resources. Rangers often tell stories of campers they have encountered who, because of poor planning and unexpected conditions, degrade backcountry resources and put themselves at risk.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
The goal of travel in the outdoors is to move through natural areas while avoiding damage to the land or waterways. Understanding how travel causes impacts is necessary to accomplish this goal. Travel damage occurs when surface vegetation or communities of organisms are trampled beyond recovery. The resulting barren area leads to soil erosion and the development of undesirable trails. Backcountry travel may involve travel over both trails and off-trail areas.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly
The Center encourages outdoor enthusiasts to consider the impacts that they leave behind, which will undoubtedly affect other people, water and wildlife. Please visit the Leave No Trace webpage for extensive instructions about how to properly manage human and other forms of waste. 

4. Leave What You Find
Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
Fires vs. Stoves: The use of campfires, once a necessity for cooking and warmth, is steeped in history and tradition. Some people would not think of camping without a campfire. Yet, the natural appearance of many areas has been degraded by the overuse of fires and an increasing demand for firewood. The development of lightweight efficient camp stoves has encouraged a shift away from the traditional fire for cooking. Stoves have become essential equipment for minimum-impact camping. They are fast, flexible and eliminate firewood availability as a concern in campsite selection. Stoves operate in almost any weather condition—and they Leave No Trace. 

6. Respect Wildlife
Learn about wildlife through quiet observation. Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a “better look.” Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Large groups often cause more damage to the environment and can disturb wildlife so keep your group small. If you have a larger group, divide into smaller groups if possible to minimize your impacts.

Considerate campers observe wildlife from afar, give animals a wide berth, store food securely and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals. Remember that you are a visitor to their home.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to maintain courtesy toward other visitors. It helps everyone enjoy their outdoor experience. Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature. Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets and damaged surroundings take away from the natural appeal of the outdoors.

With thanks to Leave No Trace for their wisdom and good works, we wish you all the many benefits that come from time spent in the great, untamed wilderness while treadling lightly and respecting all of life.

image credit: Chloe Leis