5 Ethical (and Easy) Outdoor Practices

POSTED BY ROSS BERNARDS | FEB, 19 2019

Let’s face it, we live in an incredibly diverse and beautiful country. From the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, to the deserts of the southwest, the white sandy beaches of the gulf, or the lush rain forests of the Northwest, there is something for everyone in this country. With this beauty though comes responsibility to make sure we preserve it for future generations. 

I can honestly say though, there has yet to be an adventure I’ve gone on where I haven’t seen man's handprint. I've found trash in the deepest most remote canyons, names carved on mountain tops, and everywhere in between. We seem to leave our mark. 

That’s why I would like to tell you about a few easy ways that you can help lessen your footprint while you take more footsteps in the outdoors, and act in a way that is both responsible and sustainable. 

1. Familiarize Yourself with Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is essentially the bedrock of how you should approach experiencing and taking care of the outdoors. 

Reading and understanding the rules on their website is by far the best thing you can do. It should be a requirement for everyone who plans to use the great outdoors in any capacity. By just following the 7 Rules of Leave No Trace (LNT), you can make even high traffic areas more sustainable for future generations. From planning your trips to what to do with your waste, the LNT ethics cover everything you need to know to make sure you aren’t leaving your mark and leaving the outdoors in better condition than you found it. 

2. Buy Reusable

Not only is this better for the environment, it’s better for your wallet. One thing I used to pride myself on was always having extra stuff for people in my group when we would go in the outdoors. Extra plates, extra forks etc. What I was starting to notice though, was that even if the other members in my group would have a reusable fork or plate, they’d often just use my single use items because they were already in a convenient spot.

Spend a couple of extra dollars up front to get a reusable utensil and plate. You will pay it off pretty fast by not having to buy more plastic forks! Get a good water bottle or hydration pack, this way you don’t have to worry about what to do with your plastic water bottle. A good water bottle pays for itself in about a week if you are someone who just drinks bottled water. 

When looking for lights or other electronic devices that may enhance your outdoor experience, try and find things that are rechargeable or even solar powered. Every year rechargeable and solar powered devices are getting more powerful and lasting longer, so let your alkaline batteries be a thing of the past! 

3. Responsible Social Media Usage 

I love Instagram. It’s my go to for inspiration and trip planning assistance. I’ve met some amazing friends and fellow creatives through it too. Some of the most amazing adventures I’ve gone on where because of a photo I saw on “The Gram.” That being said, we need to remember to use it responsibly. 

With over a billion users on Instagram, one photo can turn a location into a must-go place overnight. One of the biggest ways you can help keep sensitive ecosystems protected is by not geotagging the exact location. If you have to give it a location, be generic like the state or region it’s in as opposed to its exact location. 

Another thing you can do is not post images where you or someone else is breaking the ethics of “Leave No Trace.” If you’re unsure if your image is breaking any rules, do the research before you post. If someone sees something that is breaking the rules and they don’t know the rules, they may think it’s ok to do the same, thus compounding the behavior. 

4. See Something, Say Something 

The best thing to do to correct some behaviors is to call them out as they happen. Now, I’m not telling you to go all agro on anyone. Be respectful if you are going to try and correct someone. They probably just don’t know what they are doing is not ok. 

If you’re not comfortable saying something to them directly, that’s ok. You can contact the Rangers Office, Forest Service, or BLM office depending on what type of land you’re on.

5. Plan Accordingly  

There are times where I’ve gone on an adventure we’d been planning for months, only to show up to an unexpected closure. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a plan B or even a plan C. When an area is closed, it isn’t just closed for most people. It’s closed for ALL people, including you. There are also trails that are closed to dogs, or dogs on leash only.

When you go into areas that are closed, you could be putting yourself in real danger while also doing real harm to the environment. By going in, you are also pretty much guaranteeing it will be closed for even longer. These areas are closed for a reason, respect that. 

We can all do more to be more ethical and responsible in the outdoors. I encourage everyone to always carry a garbage bag in their pack, and maybe pick up trash along the way. Just maybe, someone else will see you and think to do the same. It’s happened to me more than once. It's all of our responsibility to look after our public lands. Follow “Leave No Trace” and you can make more footprints while leaving a smaller impact. 

Ross Bernards

Ross’ love for the outdoors flourished while living in Colorado over the last 8 years. He calls Colorado home but spends most of the time traveling in his camper van with his girlfriend, Lauren, and dog, Missy. When Ross isn’t in the mountains, he can probably be found in the deserts of the southwest pursuing his dreams as an adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer. 

5 Ethical (and Easy) Outdoor Practices

POSTED BY ROSS BERNARDS | FEB, 19 2019

Let’s face it, we live in an incredibly diverse and beautiful country. From the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, to the deserts of the southwest, the white sandy beaches of the gulf, or the lush rain forests of the Northwest, there is something for everyone in this country. With this beauty though comes responsibility to make sure we preserve it for future generations. 

I can honestly say though, there has yet to be an adventure I’ve gone on where I haven’t seen man's handprint. I've found trash in the deepest most remote canyons, names carved on mountain tops, and everywhere in between. We seem to leave our mark. 

That’s why I would like to tell you about a few easy ways that you can help lessen your footprint while you take more footsteps in the outdoors, and act in a way that is both responsible and sustainable. 

1. Familiarize Yourself with Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is essentially the bedrock of how you should approach experiencing and taking care of the outdoors. 

Reading and understanding the rules on their website is by far the best thing you can do. It should be a requirement for everyone who plans to use the great outdoors in any capacity. By just following the 7 Rules of Leave No Trace (LNT), you can make even high traffic areas more sustainable for future generations. From planning your trips to what to do with your waste, the LNT ethics cover everything you need to know to make sure you aren’t leaving your mark and leaving the outdoors in better condition than you found it. 

2. Buy Reusable

Not only is this better for the environment, it’s better for your wallet. One thing I used to pride myself on was always having extra stuff for people in my group when we would go in the outdoors. Extra plates, extra forks etc. What I was starting to notice though, was that even if the other members in my group would have a reusable fork or plate, they’d often just use my single use items because they were already in a convenient spot.  

Spend a couple of extra dollars up front to get a reusable utensil and plate. You will pay it off pretty fast by not having to buy more plastic forks! Get a good water bottle or hydration pack, this way you don’t have to worry about what to do with your plastic water bottle. A good water bottle pays for itself in about a week if you are someone who just drinks bottled water. 

When looking for lights or other electronic devices that may enhance your outdoor experience, try and find things that are rechargeable or even solar powered. Every year rechargeable and solar powered devices are getting more powerful and lasting longer, so let your alkaline batteries be a thing of the past! 

3. Responsible Social Media Usage 

I love Instagram. It’s my go to for inspiration and trip planning assistance. I’ve met some amazing friends and fellow creatives through it too. Some of the most amazing adventures I’ve gone on where because of a photo I saw on “The Gram.” That being said, we need to remember to use it responsibly. 

With over a billion users on Instagram, one photo can turn a location into a must-go place overnight. One of the biggest ways you can help keep sensitive ecosystems protected is by not geotagging the exact location. If you have to give it a location, be generic like the state or region it’s in as opposed to its exact location. 

Another thing you can do is not post images where you or someone else is breaking the ethics of “Leave No Trace.” If you’re unsure if your image is breaking any rules, do the research before you post. If someone sees something that is breaking the rules and they don’t know the rules, they may think it’s ok to do the same, thus compounding the behavior. 

4. See Something, Say Something 

The best thing to do to correct some behaviors is to call them out as they happen. Now, I’m not telling you to go all agro on anyone. Be respectful if you are going to try and correct someone. They probably just don’t know what they are doing is not ok. 

If you’re not comfortable saying something to them directly, that’s ok. You can contact the Rangers Office, Forest Service, or BLM office depending on what type of land you’re on.

5. Plan Accordingly  

There are times where I’ve gone on an adventure we’d been planning for months, only to show up to an unexpected closure. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a plan B or even a plan C. When an area is closed, it isn’t just closed for most people. It’s closed for ALL people, including you. There are also trails that are closed to dogs, or dogs on leash only.

When you go into areas that are closed, you could be putting yourself in real danger while also doing real harm to the environment. By going in, you are also pretty much guaranteeing it will be closed for even longer. These areas are closed for a reason, respect that. 

We can all do more to be more ethical and responsible in the outdoors. I encourage everyone to always carry a garbage bag in their pack, and maybe pick up trash along the way. Just maybe, someone else will see you and think to do the same. It’s happened to me more than once. It's all of our responsibility to look after our public lands. Follow “Leave No Trace” and you can make more footprints while leaving a smaller impact. 

Ross Bernards

Ross’ love for the outdoors flourished while living in Colorado over the last 8 years. He calls Colorado home but spends most of the time traveling in his camper van with his girlfriend, Lauren, and dog, Missy. When Ross isn’t in the mountains, he can probably be found in the deserts of the southwest pursuing his dreams as an adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer. 

Comments 18

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Deidre McCombie on

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You roll over in bed to check your phone.

Make your way to Instagram.

Youare surprised at what is waiting for you: Over 832 likes on one of your pictures! There, you see a flurry of likes on your pictures—over 832 on a single photo alone.

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Let’s stop the simulation there. People have a hard time getting what they want in life. People can hardly get themselves to eat a good breakfast.

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Kristian Semmens on

Hey, wilderness_culture!

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Make your way to Instagram.

Wow, you think, Over 561 likes on one picture.

Heading to the kitchen, you put the kettle on for some tea and check your Instagram while you wait.

Presto! Another 20 likes.

Here comes another one. This time it’s not a like but a message from one of your followers. They congratulate you on your success and let you know they love scrolling through your content.

The kettle blows and you pour your tea. When you flip out your phone, there is another message—this time from a young girl—thanking you for posting. She follows you religiously and your’e an inspiration.

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