This article has been reprinted with the permission of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org
Upcycling ornaments, eliminating wrapping paper from our routines and getting creative with decorations are just a few ways #SustainabilitySeason has helped us connect nature and home this holiday season. If you’ve been motivated to continue practicing Leave No Trace more throughout the year, never fear! We have you covered with these 5 ways to keep reducing our consumption and protect natural spaces. Don’t call them “resolutions” but rather “lifestyle changes” that help the earth and coincide with the beginning of the year.
1. Incorporate One At Home Zero-Waste Alternative
Even small things like paper towels can really add up to our overall waste stream at home. Annually in the U.S. we send about 13 billion pounds of these paper products to landfills. Products like natural fiber rags, beeswax food wrappers, shampoo/conditioner bars (rather than plastic bottles), bulk foods containers, and silicone bags can go a long way in reducing our overall consumption. Our go-to 2021 recommendation is to check out silicone food bags and #DontFeedTheLandfills. You’ll never need a sandwich bag for leftovers or lunch again.
2. Share the Leave No Trace Basics
Its true, 9 out of 10 people in the outdoors are uninformed about the impacts they can have. Our biggest goal is to decrease this statistic through education and awareness… And you can help! This new Leave No Trace Basics is a perfect introduction to Leave No Trace, providing information anyone can use to take care of the outdoors. Share the #LeaveNoTrace basics tiles on your social media and promote the essential ways anyone can protect nature, from the backcountry to our backyards. You can also shop for a postered version, which looks great at trailheads, as well.
3. Learn a New Safety Skill
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for whatever may come. A great way to start the new year is to learn a new safety skill related to our favorite outdoor pursuit. This reduces the overall incidence of emergencies and therefore,impact, to our outdoor spaces. In 2017 alone, the National Park Service reported spending approximately $3.3 million dollars on 2,890 Search and Rescue operations, which occupied a staggering 83,000 hours of NPS staff time. These SAR operations divert dollars from otherwise being spent on trail maintenance and park improvements. Not all emergency situations are avoidable but planning ahead and preparing greatly reduces the probability. 2021 special, online learning and webinar opportunities are at an all time high.
4. Strive to Create Zero Food Waste for Week
Speaking of Recycling, did you know you could still use REI’s 2020 Opt To Act plan in 2021 just by squinting a little bit? We encourage you to read through and see what actions you can implement for a more sustainable year. One of the best eco friendly single actions any of us can do is reduce our food waste. But don’t just take our word for it, REI tells us more below;
“Food waste makes up 22 percent of the solid waste in U.S. landfills and it can take years to break down because there’s not usually enough air in landfills to aid in food decomposition. And according to the USDA, 30 to 40 percent of the food we produce in the U.S. often goes uneaten. Your challenge for the week is to stop contributing to those food waste numbers; use every bit of food you have in your fridge and pantry before it goes bad. The Zero Waste Chef has some great tips for accomplishing this, including cooking a clear-out-your-pantry dish (which means not buying any new ingredients) and storing leftovers in glass jars. Before you shop, take stock of what you have on hand so you don’t buy something that might go bad later on, and consider meal planning. You can also preserve or freeze foods that are about to spoil.” Source.
5. Give Back To An Area Around You
Many of our favorite parks and protected areas are having shortages of volunteers and less service projects that help maintain areas and rehabilitate human impacts. This paired with above average visitorship has left many areas and resources strained. Look for safe ways to get involved more at some of your local outdoor recreation areas and parks. Call park management and see if distanced outdoor events might be taking place, or if there is a small scale cleanup or project just your family could aid in. 2020 has shown us just how important natural areas are for our health and that it will take effort from everyone to preserve.
Remember it’s not about perfection but action, and often that means identifying small adjustments we can each make that over time will create large scale change. Keep in mind the Whys behind #SustainabilitySeason and commit to other ways we can extend it throughout the year and continue to learn and improve. Any of the things we do to be sustainable at home directly benefit nature and conversely our health at home is improved with access to the outdoors. Sharing the Leave No Trace movement and lifestyle far and wide is a great way to spread some cheer into the new year!
By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about the important work of our mobile education teams. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America,REI,Eagles Nest Outfitters, Thule,Fjällräven and Klean Kanteen.