Six easy ways to be more sustainable and conscious in the great outdoors

Planning to hit the trails and explore the great outdoors? Hiking is a fantastic way to get some exercise, connect with nature, and improve your mental health. But, it's important to be mindful of its impact on the environment. Here are six tips for becoming a more conscious and sustainable hiker.

May 6, 2023

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Hiking is a great way to have fun and explore nature with friends, or even on your own. Spending time outdoors and admiring the beauty of nature can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health. 

Whether you're strolling along a magical forest path, meandering through a blooming meadow in springtime, or climbing remote peaks to devour the stunning landscape from above, what’s not to love?!  

But some aspects of this epic pastime don’t always have a positive impact on the environment. That’s why it is so important to be a more mindful hiker and to understand, respect, and enjoy this beautiful outdoor playground without disturbing nature’s delicate balance or causing unnecessary harm.

Enjoying the great outdoors is a privilege and an excellent reminder of why it is important to take positive action to ensure its preservation. 

So here are six ways you can be a more conscious, sustainable hiker.

Choose eco-friendly snacks

Nuts are a great snack to bring hiking

The same sustainable food habits that apply to everyday living can also be adopted for hiking.  

For starters, source fresh food that is locally produced, or make some homemade provisions. There are plenty of recipes for making your own high-energy snacks that pack power but don’t take up much space in your backpack. 

Not into making your own? You’ll find loads of healthy, energy foods online or in shops that are made for hiking, cycling, and other sports. 

Water is a must while hiking. So don't forget to bring a refillable water bottle along with you to ensure you stay hydrated. And avoid the use of single-use plastics too.

Wear sustainable outdoor clothing and gear

Hiking boots and bag sitting beside a small stream in a forest

Who says you can’t be fashionable when hiking? Hiking can be both a fabulous way to get outdoors for some exercise and fresh air AND a perfect opportunity to show off your sustainable style. 

There are endless brands that offer stylish jackets, boots, fleeces, and even backpacks, to pick your outdoor look from. This said, remember, even for your hiking needs, there are also earth friendly options like secondhand or more sustainable fabrics. 

Just like your day-to-day fashion, when you’re buying new hiking gear, take the time to research the most durable, eco-friendly items, or check your local charity shop for some pre-loved garments.

Choose your routes wisely

Women hiking beside a lake between a forested area

In peak season, popular hiking spots can be overcrowded and suffer from over-tourism which will, no doubt, have a negative impact on the indigenous wildlife and the landscape. 

As an option, look for less trodden paths. You’ll most likely be rewarded with serene nature, enchanting birdsong, and you won’t have to share the scenic views with a selfie brigade.

But, if you are planning to head off the beaten path, choose your routes wisely! Luckily, there are loads of apps, like AllTrails or Komoot, so you can find the perfect hiking trail almost anywhere in the world. 

Hiking routes are usually categorised by level of difficulty and distance to avoid getting yourself into trouble! You might even uncover one of the many hidden gems out there still waiting to be explored.   

Make greener travel choices

Group of female friends hiking up a hill at sunset

If hiking straight from your door isn’t possible, there are many ways to reduce your travel footprint on the way to your chosen hiking spot. 

Of course, walking or cycling is the best option. 

If those aren't feasible, prioritise public transport, such as the bus or train. 

And if a car is absolutely necessary, why not organise a group hiking trip in a carpool? That way you’ll reduce your individual emissions and have fun with friends along the way.

Wear natural sunscreen 

What does sunscreen have to do with being a sustainable hiker you ask? Wearing high factor sun protection is a must when you are outside in the sun for prolonged periods to avoid skin cancer. Yes, even when it’s overcast!

But not all sunscreen products are the same. Some contain toxic chemicals, like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, homosalate, avobenzone, and other nasty hard-to-pronounce ingredients. 

These chemicals are absorbed by the body where they are known to damage the lungs and other internal organs. And when you’re hiking, you may be inadvertently spreading these chemicals into the environment, affecting wildlife.

The good news is that there are plenty of natural sunscreen products to choose from that will keep you sun-burn free without the unwanted side-effects, and will safely evaporate in the outdoors! So you can protect yourself, and nature too!

Leave no trace

Sign saying 'Leave No Trace' at the entrance to a walking trail

It goes without saying, no matter where you are, leaving rubbish behind is a definite no-no! 

But littering in nature has its own specific hazards. Not only will it ruin a beautiful view, it can damage the natural landscape, pose a threat to animals and birds, attract pests, and cause an imbalance in nature's beautifully synchronised systems.

Decaying food attracts wildlife and even what may seem healthy to us such as fruits and vegetables can be toxic to certain species. 

All wildlife have their own specific food requirements provided for them in nature. Thus, you could unintentionally impact natural patterns, like reproduction, and even predator-prey relationships.  

Be sure to carry your waste with you so you can dispose of it responsibly, away from the beautiful outdoor landscape, and leave no trace! 

Woman sitting with her dog beside a tent in the mountains
@cassieworden exploring the epic scenery in Co. Mayo wearing the Rhea bralette!

Hiking is a fun and uplifting way to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of daily life, if only for a little while. This valuable time spent outdoors can bring a sense of calm and allow you to connect with nature, bringing more balance to your life!

If you studied Science, you might remember learning about Newton’s Third Law:  ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’? While Newton was referring to motion, perhaps we can adapt the theory to our daily actions. What you put out there determines what comes back.

So, while you’re out enjoying nature, it’s important to ensure you’re doing your bit to look after the environment for the future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Wherever you go, respect your surroundings and avoid disrupting the wildlife around you.

Looking for the perfect hiking bra? The Rhea bralette is comfortable, breathable as well as more sustainably and ethically made! Or browse our other minimal lingerie pieces made from soft TENCEL™ Modal x Micro.

Siobhán is the founder of Bon+Berg. When she's not designing bras and undies, you'll find her snowboarding, hiking, or just enjoying the views in the mountains. She is passionate about environmental issues and wants to inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Siobhán Dunphy

Siobhán is the founder of Bon+Berg. When she's not designing bras and undies, you'll find her snowboarding, hiking, or just enjoying the views in the mountains. She is passionate about environmental issues and wants to inspire others to live a more sustainable lifestyle.