6 ways to be a more sustainable hiker
If you’re like us here at Bon and Berg, then you'll love spending your free time outdoors admiring the beauty nature has to offer. But while you are appreciating those stunning views and enjoying time with friends hiking around different locations, remember to not take that scenery for granted. Being able to enjoy the great outdoors is a privilege and an excellent reminder of why we work so hard to preserve the natural world. This is why our team wanted to share six ways to be a more conscious, sustainable hiker.
Why is sustainable hiking important?
Hiking is an extremely popular pastime both here in Ireland and in Austria. It is a great way to have fun and explore nature with friends. But did you know that some aspects of hiking do not always have a positive impact on the environment? This is why it is so important to be a more mindful hiker who respects and understands the world around them without disturbing nature or causing any harm.
It is important to remember that the locations you hike to are home to valuable wildlife as well as native flora and fauna. Hiking through these areas can cause significant damage and disruption to the landscape and deter other animals. A damaged ecosystem deprives animals of food, reduces biodiversity, and affects our own food chain. If you look a little closer you will see that hiking isn't all about the locations we visit; our food, clothing, and transport also play a role in how harmful our hiking habits are.
1. Choose eco-friendly snacks
When preparing for a hike, always choose snacks that offer a high energy content. The same sustainable food habits that apply to everyday living can also be adopted for hiking so why not try to source fresh food that is locally produced. Why not make some homemade snacks, rather than buying from a shop and reduce the amount of plastic waste you consume. Water is also essential, so don't forget to bring a reusable water bottle along with you and avoid the use of single-use plastics ones.
2. Wear sustainable outdoor clothing and gear
At Bon+Berg, we're passionate about promoting sustainable fashion, from your base layer to your waterproof jacket. Even when we are out hiking, we can promote earth-friendly fashion choices. When buying new hiking gear, take the time to research durable, eco-friendly items, or check your local charity shop for some pre-loved garments. This will save money and allow you to maintain a low impact fashion lifestyle.
3. Choose your routes carefully
Popular hiking spots are a usually overcrowded and often suffer from over-tourism which has a negative impact on the wildlife in a particular area. If you can, look for a quieter path to hike and maybe even find some scenic views you have not seen before. This will help preserve overused locations and allow nature and wildlife to flourish once again. But please remember that you must stay on the designated hiking trails. Branching off into the wilderness can be dangerous and can also cause further damage to protected habitats.
4. Make greener transport choices
Hiking in your local area eliminates the need for transport. Why not walk or cycle to the trail head you have chose and give yourself an authentic outdoor adventure. If there isn't a hiking trail in your area, prioritise using public transport, such as the bus or train, over a car. If you know several people who enjoy hiking, why not suggest a group hiking trip and carpool? This way you can reduce emissions and have fun with friends along the way.
5. Leave no trace
Whether you’re out on a day hike or taking a few days to reconnect with nature, our mission as eco-friendly hikers is to leave no trace. When hiking, you have a responsibility to take your rubbish home. Leaving behind food waste, wrappers and other items can destroy the natural landscapes and pose a threat to smaller animals. Alternatively, if left untouched, the heat of the sun will warm your discarded rubbish, releasing toxic emissions into the open air. Be an organised hiker and carry an extra bag dedicated to items for disposal. If you are hiking in a larger group, take turns carrying this bag until you come across a designated bin or just take it home.
6. Wear natural sun cream
Before you leave for your next hike, dont foget to apply a high factor protection from the sun even if the weather seems overcast. We suggest a natural suncream as certain generic brands and lotions have negative impacts on the environment. Most suncream contain Oxybenzone which is a chemical linked to coral reef bleaching. This dangerous chemical damages coral DNA, causing deformities and inhibits its reproduction. Natural sun protectors don't include oxybenzone so before you purchase more, do some research into what they are made from and help look after your skin and the environment.
Hiking is a fun, refreshing hobby and it takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. It can also bring about a sense of calmness and allow us to reconnect with nature. Spending time outdoors can also show us what is really important in our lives and just how impactful humans are to the world around them. We must understand that everything is connected and each action we take has a knock on effect. While you are out enjoying nature be sure to always protect it and leave no trace. Adopting our simple yet impactful tips will ensure that you do your bit to look after the environment so future generations can enjoy it too.
If you enjoyed reading this post on being a sustainable hiker then you might also be interested in our piece on “How to have an eco-friendly picnic this summer with friends”.
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