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How to Camp Responsibly: Leave No Trace Principles

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Camping seems like such an eco-conscious way to see different parts of the country, but it too can have ill effects on the environment. Being in a natural environment could mean disturbing a natural environment. Leave No Trace, whose traveling trainers drive their Subarus from site to site across the country, assist outdoor enthusiasts with reducing their impact. They offer these basic principles for roughin’ it on a campsite:


Plan ahead: Visit a campsite in small groups when possible, and consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Repackage food to minimize waste and deter wildlife.


Good campsites are found, not made: Camping on durable surfaces like established trails or campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow to lessen your impact. When hiking, walk single file through the middle of the trail to prevent its expansion.


Pack it in, pack it out: Disposing of waste properly is one of the biggest tenets of the Leave No Trace principle. Everything you bring to the site should leave the site with you. Pack out all trash, leftover food, litter, toilet paper and hygiene products.


Leave what you find: Look, but don’t touch is the simple rule that protects environments from being disrupted by human activity. Don’t disturb the area by taking rocks, plants, or other natural objects.


Minimize campfire impacts: Use established fire rings instead of creating your own. Only use sticks from the ground, or bring your own fire wood.


Respect wildlife: Do not follow, approach or feed wild animals. Feeding animals only hurts them in the long run; it damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.


Be considerate of other visitors: Don’t camp close to another site – let nature’s sounds prevail.


Click here for more information on Leave No Trace, or to host the traveling trainers on your next camping trip.


Visit RTM's Earth Tones section for more responsible tourism advice.


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