Leave No Trace

“Leave No Trace” educational programs began in the 1960s when hiking, camping & backpacking became so popular public land was being “loved to death”.  Education was needed to minimize their impact.  In the early 70’s, The Boy Scouts of America started advocating Leave No Trace’s seven principals –  “Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors”.  National & State Parks, Wilderness Areas, and National Forests have all benefited from these principals.

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The Challenge of Living Green

I’ve come to realize, I need to choose my battles wisely.  My quest to live chemical-free can be exhausting!

While cleaning, I no longer mindlessly grab bottles of chemicals that promise to render me a clean surface with ease.  Fortunately I now know how to use vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide quite effectively after test-cleaning for months – yes months!

Food is always a work in progress as I continue my research.  I’ve found many foods labeled “Natural” aren’t natural at all.  I avoid single serve, over packaged and disposable products as well as farm raised fish full of hormones.  Since GMO (genetically modified) foods aren’t labeled, I call food producers to inquire.  I also study food growing practices to determine the most important produce to buy organic (check out the Dirty Dozen). I have a small organic garden and frequent Farmer’s Markets.  Next I hit the grocery stores – not just one, several!  I try my best to buy locally first and give the store managers feedback about their offerings.  Then I head to Columbia for more healthy food options.

Considering Styrofoam as the biggest environmental irritant of them all, I don’t budge on this one.   Many times I search for the elusive vegetable or fruit not packaged in Styrofoam trays. Worst yet, I absolutely love coffee, at many community events I sadly turn away as I smell the alluring aroma nestled in Styrofoam cups.  As for take-out foods – many times not an option for me.  If only the Styrofoam price tag reflected its environmental damage – then it would be expensive to produce and not so prevalent.

One would think a stroll through the park would be relaxing but no – I’m generally compelled to pick up litter and “mine” recyclables from the trash bins.  Some days, when I need a break, I don’t bring a bag with me but invariably, I see a plastic bag snagged on a tree somewhere so I’m compelled to fill it up!  As for the dispersed cigarette butts – It takes a “full energy” day and gloves in tow for me to grab those.

Reduce/Reuse/Recycle – I’m always considering these principals.  It may take a little more effort but I always save money while conserving our natural resources and Trash Day is always a breeze!

Yeah, being an Environmentalist isn’t exactly glamorous but we do what we have to do.

 

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