Pack it out! Why it’s Important to Leave Nothing Behind when Traveling

Pack it out! Why it’s Important to Leave Nothing Behind when Traveling
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Camping gives us the chance to recharge our batteries, refresh our minds and find peace in a hectic world.

Embarking on a trek only to find the trail littered with glass bottles, trash, excrement and graffiti can really dampen the outdoor experience.

If we work towards educating ourselves and others about how to care for and preserve the natural environment we can bring about real change, facilitating a change in public sentiment towards the environment and keeping the wilderness pristine.

Our goal is to share best practices for responsible travel by minimizing your carbon footprint and impact on the environment while enjoying the outdoors, as well as giving you tools to share the vision with others to make change possible.

Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time.Leave No Trace Motto

Admittedly, the Leave No Trace Movement is an invention of the US Forest service, but the principles of responsible travel are as valid in the magnificent high mountains, rolling green hills, muddy trails, boggy highlands and verdant forests of the UK.

What is Responsible Travel?

dirty beach

Responsible travel, at its most basic level, comes down to respect.

Respect for nature and the environment, respect for other people’s property and livelihood and respect for the folks who will come after you.

Just as a traveler wants to visit, go trekking or camping in unspoiled surroundings, so should that traveler leave it unspoiled for others.

Follow these guidelines to care for nature’s beauty and our right to enjoy it.

Follow the Code to Enjoy a Wild Camping Trip

Independent Wolf Hammock

If you plan to camp ‘wild style’, or outside of an established campsite, following the code is the responsible travel option.

The camping code includes these environmentally savvy clauses:

Camp in small groups

2 or 3 people and stay only one or two nights, to minimize the effect on flora and fauna. Better yet, pitch late and leave early.

Try and camp after 5 pm and leave shortly after sunrise.

No ditch digging
No ditch digging or moving natural features, such as large rocks. Camp away from streams and other bodies of water so ditch digging is unnecessary.
Bury human waste

Bury human waste and pack out toilet paper and feminine napkins. Carry a small shovel with you and dig into the ground at least 6 inches to bury waste.

Be sure to do your business away from rivers, streams and other water sources because bacteria and other bugs can live quite a while after you are gone.

Carry a few zip lock bags to pack the used toilet paper and any feminine products. Do not bury these as animals may dig them up.

No soaps or chemicals
Do not wash dishes with soap or use shampoo or other toiletries and chemicals that can leach into the water table.
Pack out all waste

Bring a few bags to pack all rubbish and take it out as you go. If you see trash left by others, pack that out too.

Not because you are responsible for what others have done, but because their trash threatens the liberty and legality of wild camping.

What’s the Real Story?

Lake District in England

According to this article on camping restrictions in the UK, some parks in Scotland that were previously available to wild campers began to restrict the activity because of trash, irresponsible fires including cutting trees to burn, and other anti-social behavior on the part of a few wild campers.

This restricted wild camping in the area for all. Bummer.

Bottom Line?

It’s the irresponsible behavior of the few, that limits the freedom of everyone. Fair? We don’t think so.

Unfortunately, it seems to be the case.

Use Campfire caution.

When wild camping it is best to avoid campfires if possible. It is best to use a camp stove as some areas do not allow campfires.

However, managing a campfire is an important life skill, and may be necessary for your trip, so if you do make a campfire, professional Bushcraft instructor has these tips on how to leave no trace of your campfire.

Campfires can be highly dangerous if you are experiencing windy conditions. Some people especially love this kind of weather and you might too. If you do, take a quick look at the best tents for rain and wind that we have listed for adventure seekers like you.

How to Travel Responsibly with Dogs

traveller with two small dogs

Sustainable tourism should include managing your dog in a way that harmonizes with the natural surroundings.

Here’s the Deal:

You need to clean up dog waste just like you would human waste. Their poo must be buried. In this case, you can be thankful dogs don’t wipe their bum after going so you don’t have to worry about packing their TP out.

If the area you are camping does not allow dogs, respect that regulation. There is likely a reason for the restriction and responsible travel and sustainable tourism are based on respecting others.

Follow this rule and it could save your dog’s life

According to the Scottish outdoor access code if your dog harasses livestock it could be shot by a farmer.

This unthinkable tragedy can be avoided by keeping the dog far away from livestock and on a leash or at home if necessary.

Livestock, sheep especially, are afraid of dogs and frightening them can cause them to run, possibly injuring themselves.

Pregnant livestock risk losing the pregnancy if they are chased so it is best for everyone to maintain control of the dog while trekking, traveling and wild camping.

Take Action! Get Involved: What You Can do to Help!

hiking trail

Finding the wilderness defaced and trashed can be a deflating and demoralizing experience.

Take heart!

The power to change is in the hands of the people and everyday citizens can and do make a difference.

The key is changing public sentiment so that everyone is encouraged to do their part. The idea is to make engaging in anti-social behavior uncomfortable so it becomes frowned upon and discouraged.

It’s like peer pressure, in the right direction.

Resources: Find a Way to Get Involved


Surfers Against Sewage

Surfers against sewage is a UK charity assembled for the protection of the UK’s oceans and beaches.

Surfers against sewage provides numerous ways you can get involved including volunteering, reporting problems and campaigning.

Current campaigns they are running include the ‘Return to Offender’ campaign where they return junk found on the beach to the original owner if it can be identified.

Returning the items to the companies that produce them helps raise awareness and challenges companies to be accountable for waste products.

Loch Lomond Volunteers

The Loch Lomond area is an area in Scotland that restricted wild camping because of the irresponsible behavior of a few campers and the environmental stress in the area.

You can join other Loch Lomond volunteers to help clean the beaches, tracking and removing invasive plant species and repairing trails.

They offer training and the opportunity to learn more about the area and meet people.

John Muir Trust

The John Muir Trust is a Scottish Charity set up to protect wild places and wilderness. Their work includes repairing trails, educating the public via camping activity and visitor centers, taking legal action against development in wild areas and other conservation initiatives.

Get involved, volunteer, become a member or donate to a campaign through the John Muir Trust.

Mountain Bothies Association

This organization maintains a database of bothies, a rustic shelter with few amenities. Bothies originated as rural farmhouses that were abandoned after WWII.

The MBA works to maintain these shelters via dues from membership, donations and the use of good old-fashioned volunteer labor.

You can join up to use the bothies and volunteer for maintenance work. These bothies are used by hill walkers and climbers so they are generally located high up on former hill farm land.

This association is a shining example of how everyday citizens can make a difference. In 1965 a few bothy users saw that these bothies were deteriorating and decided to form an organization to maintain and protect them.

They succeeded and now future generations can benefit from this tradition.

The Woodland Trust

Because someone needs to stand up for the trees. This organization is about woodland protection, restoration and creating woodland space.

They purchase threatened woodlands, have volunteers plant trees and reforest, create community woodlands, initiate programs that use community volunteers to monitor tree illness and plague and more.

If you love trees and live in the UK, this is the organization for you.

Bottom Line

If everyone works to do their part in maintaining the environment, and people get involved with just one organization or campaign, the environmental situation in the UK wilderness can be turned around and sustainable tourism can be achieved.

The saying “Many hands make for light work” applies here.

Picking up after a camping trip is easy, volunteering one day out of the year is not a huge burden, and if everyone who enjoys the outdoors got involved we would see a much more unspoiled UK wilderness.