Every so often at the Arctic Monsoon office, we have to sit everyone down for a little chat. This is not your typical weekly staff meeting or an all-hands meeting. It is not pre-planned, and there is only one agenda item...cleanliness.
There is no janitor on staff. We don't contract our office cleaning to a 3rd party contractor. All of the cleaning duties are done by us. Consequently, If we make a mess, we clean it up. Not to say that our office gets all that dirty, but at times we get so caught up in our daily work that we forget to clean up after ourselves. That being said, we have to dedicate half an hour each week to tidy up a bit.
It goes without saying, cleaning up after yourself is obvious in an office environment. It is a closed area, you see the same things every day, and if you don’t take the garbage out it will start to stink. It’s one of those things that, at a social level, most people view as a priority.
On the other hand, these ideals begin to change when you get to an outdoor environment. The evidence is clear by the pollution that can be found along your favorite hiking trail, fishing hole, or at your secret camping site. While people are generally good at cleaning up after themselves indoors, when they get outdoors people sometimes throw these rules out the window.
It’s “not my problem” if I leave trash on that hiking trail because “I’m never going to see it again.”
What most people don't realize is that it is your problem. This is our planet. Just because you will not reap the benefit of cleaning up your trash, I’m sure you are pretty disgusted when you see trash littered along a trail that you frequently visit. In the same way, solving this problem is quite easy. Actually, there are many ways in which people try to keep this issue at the front of their minds.
The Boy Scouts of America have their “Outdoor Code.”
The Pacific Coast Trail Association, one of the most popular thru-hikes in the world, stresses “pack it in, pack it out.”
Similarly, Burning Man (the arts festival in the middle of the Nevada desert) has MOOP (Matter out of Place) guidelines that are extremely thorough. These guidelines have even proven to be effective year after year. Check out Burning Man’s yearly MOOP maps here, which show the environmental impact left behind by Burning Man attendees each year. The progress from 2006 to 2015 is incredible, and shows definite improvement!
This leads me to the basic tenets of these guidelines. Coincidentally, they can be traced back to one main source...
Leave No Trace.
Leave No Trace (LNT for short) is a set of principles that allow people to enjoy the wonders that nature has to offer. These principles also help to offset the impact that human activity has on the local environment. For example, at Burning Man something as simple as leaving a pencil on the desert floor can cause a sand dune to form. Something such as this would permanently alter the environment for future use.
(You can read the full set of 7 principles by visiting this link on the LNT website)
For an explanation of the reason for the principles, look no further than the LNT Seven Principles page:
“The Principles are based not only on a respect for nature and other visitors, they are also based on and supported by scientific research. The majority of this research aligns with the fields of Recreation Ecology and Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. Recreation Ecology research informs us about recreation-related impacts and how they can be reduced by managers and visitors, while Human Dimensions research tells us about outdoor enthusiasts perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors regarding enjoyment of the outdoors.”
In summary, whether you are cooped up in an office all day, walking a nature trail on your lunch break, or trekking the Pacific Trail; nobody likes seeing evidence of human activity. When we go into nature, we want to things that are untouched by the hand of man. We don’t want to see empty water bottles and granola bar wrappers. We want to see white-tailed deer and hawks circling overhead. So, next time you are planning for an outdoor adventure, don't forget the principles of leave no trace. Let's make an effort to preserve the beauty of nature for generations to come.
Don’t forget to share this post with any friends who need a refresher on the principle of Leave No Trace.
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