The 7 Principles Of 'Leave No Trace'

You may have heard the adage ‘Leave No Trace’ at summer camp, on a family camping trip, or a visit to your local outdoor spaces. But the concept is more than a catchy motto, it’s a lifestyle: seven principles to help keep the wilderness in tact while you enjoy the great outdoors.

In honor of Earth Day, wants to remind you & yours to leave minimal impact on the environment around you.

We’re all here to share the same planet for generations to come. At, we talk a lot about how you can reduce your waste and adopt sustainable habits. There’s always something you can do, big or small, to help the planet: from making your backyard a habitat for pollinators, to starting a community garden, to giving back. Incorporating daily sustainable practices can make a big impact!

So join us in adopting these seven principles – on and off the trails – to leaving the Earth better than we found it. The original seven principles can be found on the Leave No Trace (LNT) Website.

  1. Plan & Prepare: Planning your trip ahead can save you time, money, and waste. By consolidating food and removing the packaging it may come in, you’re reducing your risk of leaving trash behind. Planning for weather can allow you to purchase the (hopefully sustainable and fair trade) clothing beforehand, instead of opting for cheap plastic raincoats that end up in the river (not to mention the resources wasted for making something that isn’t intended to last more than a few uses in the first place). LNT also suggests using a map or compass which eliminates the need to mark the natural surroundings to find your way (in the form of flagging, cairns, etc.). Planning your trip during lower traffic areas and traveling in smaller groups can also minimize the impact of large crowds on the environment.
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces: This basically means stay on the trail (or in your campground to pitch your tent). Please don’t set up your tent outside of a campsite in the middle of a beautiful field of wild flowers, for instance. Camp away from water sources to avoid contamination. If exploring pristine areas that do not contain designated campsites, try to find an area to set up camp that will have minimal impact on the surroundings. And please, don’t remodel nature to suit your need for a bigger fire pit or cut down a tree that’s “in your way.”
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll hopefully hear it again: pack it in, pack it out!  That means pick up all your trash, food scraps, and other debris. If no toilet facilities are available, dig a cathole 6-8 inches in depth and make sure these are dug at least 200 feet away from any water sources. Pack out toilet paper used. Washing dishes, showering, or any other cleaning should be done away from water sources and using only biodegradable and otherwise eco-friendly products.
  4. Leave What You Find: The value of nature is inherent – taking pieces of it with you or disturbing wildlife habitat defeats the purpose of visiting nature in the first place. Don’t attempt to collect rocks, plants, or animals from the natural surroundings – enjoy nature as it was meant to be: naturally. Please also avoid disturbing soil (by digging, etc.) or moving/introducing/removing animals or their habitats. And remember, look but don’t touch: leave historical sites or artifacts as they are found.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts:  Campfires are nice, yes, but they’re also pretty destructive to the surrounding environment. When possible, use a small stove and candle lanterns. When you do have a campfire, use designated fire pits and grills, make sure all coals are put out, and once cooled, scatter the ashes. Never cut down trees or otherwise disrupt the natural surroundings – only use wood that is easily collected.
  6. Respect Wildlife: They were here first, and you’re visiting – please remember that. Avoid destroying (or camping near) obvious wildlife homes. Do not attempt to contact or otherwise interact with wildlife. Please always keep pets under control. Animals can be more vulnerable at different times of the year: during mating or nesting, for instance – please always use extra caution during this time. It is also extremely important to secure food and trash – feeding wildlife can be detrimental to their habits and safety. Exposed food or trash can also lure animals (like bears!) into your campsite.
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect the boundaries of others who are enjoying nature – be respectful on the trail, and when camping, keep noise to a minimum. Let’s all enjoy nature.


If everyone does their part to preserve the wilderness they’re visiting, it’s more enjoyable for all – including Mother Earth and the animals that call the area home. There are a lot of benefits to spending time in nature. It’s important to be able to get out and enjoy nature, but it’s equally important to respect the environment while doing it. Whether you’re going on a hike with friends or teaching your kids about nature through camping, remember these seven principles to contribute to protect the environment and all of its inhabitants.

There are lots of ways to go natural and give back to the environment – check out these 5 ways here! From recycling to making your own natural cleaning products, every little bit counts!

Want to know other ways you can get involved in Earth Day? Click here!

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