I remember as a little kid growing up in the 70's it was not uncommon to see a lot of trash in the outdoors, especially in the ditches along the highways. Going camping often included an evening drive to the local garbage dump to watch the bears roam around searching for food. Or maybe for some folks, going for a hike on a nature trail included tossing that harmless banana peel or apple core into the bush along the way. Or the urge of scribing one's name with a pocket knife into that park bench or tree trunk exclaimed to the world that "Henry was here." Overall, there seemed to be a real lack of understanding the impacts of such behavior. It seemed to be the norm, and no one talked about it much. Everyone did it, right?
Fast forward to today, where thankfully we have a lot more knowledge about how that bad human behavior can affect our natural environment and wildlife. We know that littering or feeding wild animals for example, may lead to that animal having to be destroyed. If animals like bears or wolves have access to human food, they will often continue to seek it out, becoming habituated to humans and posing a danger to public safety. If relocation efforts are unsuccessful, park rangers are often left with no choice but to destroy the animal. There is no access to garbage dumps at campgrounds anymore, and national parks have a litany of brochures to increase public awareness about enjoying the outdoors responsibly. But there is still a long way to go.
Backpacking into nature with my camera over the years, it's hard to believe that with all of the awareness nowadays, many people still choose to treat nature like their own personal garbage dump. It's not uncommon at all to find human garbage miles into the back-country, or graffiti sprayed all over a rock. These small, seemingly harmless acts are a real problem. Collectively around the world, they are leading to the continuous destruction of nature at an alarming rate. This is why organizations that are dedicated to changing behavior through education and research are naturally very high on my list of groups to support.
leave no trace
Leave No Trace "is an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation and respect for our wild lands."
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
As a proud member of the Leave No Trace organization, I believe strongly that adopting these simple principles while out enjoying nature is not only easy to do, it's critical for the future preservation of our natural world. You can learn more about this wonderful organization HERE for Canadians or for American residents, click HERE.
canadian parks and wilderness society (CPAWS)
"The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land, ocean, freshwater and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the nature within them. In the past 50+ years, we’ve played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador put together! Our vision is to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness."
CPAWS works "collaboratively with all levels of government, indigenous communities, industry, and other environmental groups to develop innovative conservation solutions."
I am personally committed to raising awareness of the serious environmental issues that we all face, as well as encouraging everyone to explore these and the many organizations whose mandate is to promote the responsible stewardship of our wild lands and preserve them for the generations that follow us.