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Leave only footprints...
We like to think that walking has a low impact on the natural environment, but there are a few easy things walkers can do to reduce this even further, and even some actions we can take to make a positive difference. Here are a few quick tips to get you going in your quest to be a green hiker.
Take public transport
The thousands of cars that clog up mountain roads on busy weekends spew out fumes, and when parked on verges can lead to erosion. Many mountain roads were not built to take the traffic they do, and it often leaves drivers stressed, trying to find a parking space and sitting in queues when they should be outside. The simple answer to this is to take public transport; trains and buses go to many of the most popular mountains and mean you can be more inventive with your walks – why not get a bus out and walk back to you accommodation over the hills? If there’s no bus, why not try and car-share with people you meet in the hostel?
Keep to the paths in popular areas
Path erosion by walkers (and mountain bikers) is a serious problem and one the National Park authorities and other groups spend thousands of pounds and man-hours trying to fix. On the most popular routes, it’s important to stick to the paths and not on the sides of them, to prevent trails widening and eroding as your boots cut up vegetation and compact soil. There’s even a campaign you can get involved in at thebmc.co.uk/mendourmountains.
Take litter home, and pick up bits you see
Quite simply, don’t drop litter. Litter means anything you wouldn’t naturally find on a mountain, and that includes fruit peel and apple cores. Just take them out and put them in a bin, or even better, recycle or compost. Mountain environments can’t deal with waste, which takes years to degrade and will affect water courses and soil. If you see litter on the trail, why not pick it up and dispose of it when you get down?
Think before you buy
When you’re buying a piece of outdoor equipment or clothing, do some research on the manufacturer. Find out what conditions it was made in and how ethical the materials are, especially down, the chemicals used for producing a waterproof lining, and whether the clothing sheds microfibres, which eventually make it into the sea from your washing machine. Remember that cheap materials and fastenings such as zips will break a lot sooner than well-made ones; you’ll create far less waste by buying something that’ll last a long time rather then throwing things away.
Donate or join
There are many organisations out there who work hard to protect the places we go walking, from conservation bodies such as the National Trust and John Muir Trust, to wildlife groups such as the Wildlife Trusts and RSPB, and mountain conservation campaigns including Fix the Fells and Trees for Life. Why not consider becoming a member or donating? There may be a conservation organisation that works in the area you love visiting the most, so why not do some research on how your money can make the greatest impact?
Author: Alex Kendall
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