“We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – World Vision International 2 Jun 2022
Spending time in nature – whether adventuring, taking it easy, or exercising – has been proven to have numerous benefits for mental health, from reducing stress levels to increasing creativity and cognitive function. However, it’s important to remember that all the benefits we get from nature come with great responsibility, especially if we want those benefits to last.
KwikTip is run and staffed by outdoor enthusiasts. And, as outdoor enthusiasts, it’s our duty to protect and preserve the environment that we enjoy so much. One way we do this is by incorporating responsible waste management into our outdoor adventures as well as understanding the intersection between waste management, responsible outdoor recreation, and mental health. After all, understanding is more likely to lead to action.
Why Responsible Outdoor Recreation is Crucial
Our natural areas are fragile ecosystems that are easily damaged by human activity. By being mindful of our impact whilst we adventure, we can help preserve the beauty of these areas for future generations. Not only is responsible outdoor recreation important for our future generations, but it is just as important for our own generation. Practicing responsible outdoor recreation can help us feel more connected to the natural world, strengthening our mental fortitude, and when we engage in purposeful adventure, it even gives us an added sense of purpose.
Waste Management and the Environment
One of the biggest threats to the environment during outdoor activities is waste. Litter, namely single-use plastics, can harm wildlife, pollute waterways, and detract from the beauty of natural areas. Managing your waste whilst out in nature should by no means be a challenge or something you should feel burdened by. For most, a simple change in perspective is all that it takes – a clean environment = a happy mind. But for others, who haven’t thought about the impact litter and waste actually have on their own well-being, this can be more of a challenge. I recently have come across a company called Trash Free Trails and I would recommend everyone looking to do some more “purposeful adventuring” and wants some guidance to do so, checks them out.
KwikTip for Responsible Waste Management
Here are a few ways I, and our team at KwikTip, have taken what we’ve learned on the road and brought it into our favorite natural places whilst doing what we love the most – adventuring, mountain biking, trail-running, and dog walking.
To ensure responsible waste management during our outdoor adventures, we “pack out” all of our waste and dispose of it properly in a trash can or recycling bin. Instead of relying on disposable items like plastic water bottles or paper plates, we bring reusable containers that can be washed and used again. We also practice Leave No Trace principles, which are a set of guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation that include things like minimizing campfire impact and respecting wildlife. The leave-no-trace principles I have adopted were taught to me during my Phase 1 training in the British Army. It is rare that you will find me out in nature without a “gash bag” these days.
Pack it in, pack it out: This means bringing all of our waste back out with us and disposing of it properly in a trash can or recycling bin.
Use reusable containers: Instead of relying on disposable items like plastic water bottles or paper plates, bring reusable containers that can be washed and used again.
Practice “Leave No Trace” principles: These principles are a set of guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation that include things like minimizing campfire impact and respecting wildlife.
The Connection Between Waste Management and Mental Health
Being environmentally responsible is an important aspect of waste management, and it can positively affect our mental health in several ways.
When we practice responsible waste management whilst out on an adventure, we become more mindful of our impact on the environment. This mindfulness can help us develop a deeper connection to the natural world and feel a sense of purpose in our actions. In addition, being environmentally responsible can give us a sense of accomplishment and mastery.
Knowing that we’re taking steps to protect and preserve the environment can be empowering, and it can give us a sense of control over our impact on the world. This sense of control can help to reduce feelings of anxiety or overwhelm that can be associated with larger global issues, such as climate change.
Moreover, incorporating responsible waste management into our outdoor adventures can also enhance our overall experience. When we pack out our waste and minimize our impact on the environment, we’re able to fully appreciate the natural beauty around us without being distracted by litter or other signs of human impact. This can create a sense of peace and tranquillity that can be beneficial for our mental health.
Responsible waste management is an important aspect of responsible outdoor recreation and adventure. By incorporating these practices into our outdoor adventures, we can help protect the environment and make our experiences more enjoyable. Additionally, being mindful of our impact on the environment can have positive impacts on our mental health and our community.
So next time you’re planning an outdoor adventure, don’t forget to consider how you can manage your waste responsibly and adventure purposefully. Together, we can help preserve the beauty of our natural areas for generations to come.