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Nurturing Nature - The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
7 Min Read
03 April 2024
Nurturing Nature - The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
 Leave No Trace

 

We’ve partnered with Leave No Trace to help progress and improve how we educate our team and travelers on responsible adventure practices. Leave No Trace is a non-profit organization that specializes in educating the public about how to reduce our environmental impact and promote local economies. To make it easier to understand, they’ve established 7 Principles as a framework for minimizing impact on outdoor spaces. These are backed up by extensive research from leaders in outdoor education, biologists, and land managers.  

When traveling on a Macs Adventure, it’s important to know how these 7 Principles can be applied to each day of your itinerary. We’ve outlined below each principle and how they’re especially relevant to Macs’ trips. 

 

Leave No Trace Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare 

When outdoor visitors plan ahead and prepare, it helps to accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably while simultaneously minimizing damage to the land. Poor planning often results in a less enjoyable experience and damage to natural and cultural resources.” - Leave No Trace

Some ways you can plan ahead and prepare for a Macs trip: 

  • Before Day 1 of your itinerary, make sure you’ve asked your Macs Adventure Specialist all of the outstanding questions you may have.  

  • Download your maps via our app, and make sure you review your day to day itinerary before leaving.  

  • Learn how to use an online map to navigate and stay on the trail.  

  • Borrow or buy used gear, and bring all that you think you’ll need with you, but avoid excessive consumption of gear (and leaving it behind) in your destination country. 

  • Read your country guide, watch documentaries, and find articles on the place you’ll be visiting to make yourself aware of any environmental regulations or special concerns. 

Hint: By choosing Macs, you’re already practising this principle as we plan itineraries for you and give you all the information you need to prepare. We also encourage small group travel, traveling during shoulder seasons, and hand-pick hotels and B&Bs that boost local economies. 

 

Leave No Trace Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces 

The goal of travel outdoors is to move through natural areas while avoiding damage to the land, foliage, or waterways. Travel damage occurs when surface vegetation or communities of organisms are trampled beyond recovery. The resulting barren area leads to soil erosion and the development of undesirable trails or trampled areas.” - Leave No Trace

Some ways that you can travel on durable surfaces on a Macs trip: 

  • Make sure you stay on the obvious trail - these trails are recognizable by colored trail markers, packed down grass or snow, exposed dirt or rocks, and your Macs app 

  • Choose your lunch, snack, and water break spots intentionally - look for patches of dirt, large flat rocks, or patted-down grass. Avoid walking off the trail to get to a break spot as this causes damage to endemic plants, soil and microorganisms. 

  • If a trail is particularly narrow, make sure to hike in a single file and avoid stepping off of it. 

  • Pay attention to natural restoration signage and take particular care when in these areas. Stop to read the signs for information on how you can avoid negative impact in that area.  

  • Avoid river crossings unless absolutely necessary. When you must cross a river, choose the thinnest part, and try not to disturb any rocks or soil underwater. 

 Hint: By traveling with Macs you’re already practising traveling on durable surfaces as we try and test the routes and make sure you’re on established trails, roads, and sidewalks.   

 

Leave No Trace Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly 

The waste humans create while enjoying outdoor spaces can have severe impacts if not disposed of properly. It is crucial to anticipate the types of waste you will need to dispose of and know the proper techniques for disposing of each type of waste in the area you are visiting.” - Leave No Trace

Banana peel in nature

 Some ways that you can dispose of waste properly on a Macs trip:  

  • Pack out whatever you pack in - keep a small bag in your backpack for wrappers, food scraps, and any other trash you may accumulate. Dispose of the bag in an established trashcan or recycling bin.  

  • Pick up any micro trash you may find that others left behind. This usually includes bottle caps, small candy wrappers, old water bottles, granola bar wrappers, etc.  

  • Expect no toilets on the trail - decide what works best for you to “go” in the outdoors. Bring a “bathroom kit” with you in your daypack. This can include biodegradable toilet paper, a small trowel, human wag bags, a travel-size Dr Bronners soap, she-wees, or whatever else you may require.  

  • When using the bathroom in nature, find a spot that is off the trail, but that does not require trampling small plants or microorganisms as best as you can. Be sure you are at least 200 feet away from lakes or streams. Pack out any toilet paper, feminine products, or plastic bags you may use in a separate bag in your backpack. Dispose of these properly when you get back into town. 

  • Educate yourself by watching videos and reading articles on tips on how to “go” outside. Learn how to dig catholes and disguise them properly! 

 Hint: You’re already practising disposing of waste properly by traveling with Macs as we try to be as paperless as possible and we put all information you may need on our app. We also have discounts for reusable water bottles if you don’t have any of your own. 

 

Leave No Trace Principle 4: Leave What You Find 

The items we find in nature have a role to play, either in the ecosystem or the story of the landscape. Leaving what we find in place helps to preserve both. Allow others a sense of discovery by leaving rocks, plants, archaeological artefacts, and other objects of interest as you find them.” - Leave No Trace

Maderia

 Some ways that you can leave what you find on a Macs trip:  

  • Notice on our app that we highlight historical and cultural sites that are closeby to the trail. Make sure you are only looking at or taking photos of these places, don’t touch, walk, or sit on them. 

  • Research the best souvenirs to bring home from the country you’re visiting. Choose to buy a souvenir at a local shop instead of taking something from the trail. 

  • If you see a particular leaf, rock, plant, or natural object that you really like, take a photo instead of picking it up, moving it around, or bringing it home. 

  • Thoroughly wash your hiking boots or shoes, or take them to a local cleaner before you head off on your trip to make sure you’re not bringing any small plants or organisms that may be invasive in your new location. 

  • Don’t build cairns, dig holes, or move around big rocks or branches unless absolutely necessary.  

 Hint: We have our #MacsMoment contests each month where you can win a great prize! Use this as an incentive to take more photos instead of taking a tangible object you may find.  

 

Leave No Trace Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impact 

Once necessary for cooking and warmth, campfires are steeped in history and tradition. Some people would not think of camping without a campfire. Yet, the natural appearance of many areas has been degraded by the overuse of fires and increasing demand for firewood. Moreover, wildfires continue to threaten outdoor spaces and are primarily caused by humans.” - Leave No Trace

New Zealand

 Some ways that you can minimize campfire impact on a Macs trip: 

*note: We know we don't have fires on Macs trips, but we can still use the messaging of this principle on our trips in other ways!* 

  • If you choose to smoke, please smoke in designated areas and dispose of your cigarette butts properly. Never leave a cigarette butt on a trail.  

  • If you enjoy extra support while hiking, bring hiking poles from home instead of picking up a “walking stick” from the side of the trail that could be promoting decomposition. 

  • Educate yourself on fire danger in the country you’re visiting and what season is the most likely time for wildfires. 

  • If hiking on a trail with a large presence of trees, don’t peel bark, break branches, or pick leaves off of the neighboring trees. 

Hint: If you’re interested in camping in your everyday life outside of Macs, make sure you build your campfire in fire rings, pans, or fire mounds. Keep fires small and only use already dead and on-the-ground branches and sticks, and put your fire out completely when you’re done. 

 

Leave No Trace Principle 6: Respect Wildlife 

Whenever you are in an outdoor space, you are in the natural habitat of many wild animals and should work to minimize your impact on them.  Human impacts on wildlife can result in negative human-wildlife interactions, aggressive animals, a decline in the ecosystem’s health, and relocated or euthanized animals.” - Leave No Trace

 Some ways that you can respect wildlife on a Mac trip: 

  • If you encounter wildlife on the trail, keep your distance and don’t shout or yell at them, follow them, or approach them. Don’t use flash photography when taking photos of wildlife. 

  • Before leaving for your adventure, read articles or watch documentaries about the wildlife that is native to the area that you may see. Research how they make a positive impact on their own ecosystem.  

  • Don’t pick flowers, plants, or grasses off the trail because they look pretty. This disturbs pollination in the area. 

  • Never feed wildlife, and make sure you clean up any food scraps, fruit peels or apple cores.  

  • Be aware of native animals’ sensitive times including mating, hibernation, or raising young. Educate yourself on how this may change their behavior or cause the closure of certain parts of the trails. 

  • Be kind to bugs and insects! These organisms are extremely important to the thriving of their ecosystems. They pollinate plants, regulate other species, and are food for other animals. They’re vital, won’t hurt you unless you disturb them, and are beautiful. 

 Hint: A photo of wildlife can be amazing, but it’s also important if you encounter species to observe, watch, and cherish the moment. It’s their home that we’re entering, and their ecosystems function like our societies. Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat can be magical! 

 

Leave No Trace Principle 7: Be Considerate of Others 

One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to maintain courtesy toward others. It helps everyone enjoy their outdoor experience. Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets, and damaged surroundings detract from the natural appeal of the outdoors.” - Leave No Trace

Camino

Some ways that you can be considerate of others on a Macs trip:  

  • Yield to others on the trail- try to pass on the correct side, and always yield to people coming up the trail, instead of expecting them to step to the side for you. 

  • Avoid loud voices and noises to allow the sounds of nature to be present.  

  • In popular photo-taking spots, take your photo and move on, so others have the chance to have the moment as well. 

  • If you like to listen to music while hiking, wear one earphone. This will allow you to be aware of your surroundings and will prevent others who want to only listen to nature from hearing your music. 

  • If you’re biking, kindly announce to people you’re passing which side you’ll be passing on so that you don’t spook them or cause an accident. 

  • Consider the people indigenous the land you’re hiking or biking on. Respect local regulations. 

 Hint: At Macs, we encourage self-guided travel so we don’t clog popular areas with large groups. Large group travel often takes over spaces so it’s harder for folks not in the group to enjoy nature. With Macs, you’re already being considerate of others by being a self-guided adventurer! 

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Aria Nicoletti

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Aria Nicoletti
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