Guest Article by Francis Dierick with Chalk Rebels
We’ve seen a bit of a revival in outdoor sports in the last couple of years. We have seen a boost in climbing, hiking, camping, and mountain biking, and these activities seem to be on a continuous trajectory of growth and adoption amongst all kinds of people.
For climbing this revival predates COVID but the lockdowns seem to have stoked the fire even higher: with all other entertainment venues locked down, people rediscovered the great outdoors. And those who discovered the outdoors during lockdown won’t stop coming outside now that COVID is on the decline.
A new influx of people enjoying actually is good for the planet long-term: we need more people getting exposed to the beauty of nature. Once you’ve seen that beauty you’re far more likely to try to protect it. And our planet needs all the attention it can get.
More people outdoors means more people become aware of the importance of sustainability, and in the long-term, this may lead to change in the way we produce and consume goods.
But short-term there definitely is a problem with over-crowding and a general lack of understanding of how to behave in the outdoors. But this is a problem that can be addressed with education, so here are a couple of tips to become a more sustainable outdoors person.
Buy high-quality gear that is meant to last
Outdoor fans tend to build up a vast collection of gear. They have a reputation for being gearheads. And some of that gear is highly durable and lasts for years. But some of it follows trends of “fast fashion” & “innovation” to increase sales, just like any other industry Ask yourself: do you really need to shave off that last gram of weight? Do you really need this year’s version or will last year’s do? Keeping your gear for a long time helps keep it out of landfills.
Buy second-hand gear
There’s a lot of high-quality gear available second-hand because people tend to enter and leave the sport. For some technical safety gear like climbing protection, caution is warranted but there are lots and lots of cheap second-hand camping gear and clothing available. Most outdoorsy people take pride in having gear that is well-worn and used. Buying second-hand comes with some free extra weathering. You’ll actually look cooler in second-hand gear!
Rent Your Gear
Some outdoor gear is insanely expensive yet used only a few times a year. In this case gear rental makes total sense. And this is exactly what we offer here at Gear Up. Renting to us is a total no-brainer. And it is a greater idea to rent before buying as well before you know what you really want and need for how you like to spend the most time outdoors. Given the cost of some of the gear, renting or borrowing a few versions of the piece of gear before you fork over the cold hard cash to buy your own.
Stay on designated trails
A big influx of people can cause a lot of unwanted erosion. And this may in turn lead to recreational area closures. The best way to avoid erosion is to stay on designated trails if possible. Don’t cut through switchbacks. Don’t take shortcuts. And if you’re in an area without trails avoid steep slopes & unstable terrain. And don’t build new trails unless you know what you are doing. Too many areas have been scarred by a criss-cross of wild trails that grew out of goodwill.
Leave No Trace
The outdoors is not an urban area. There are no bins and nobody is picking up your garbage after you. Pack out everything you bring in. That includes “innocent” things like cigarette butts and paper packaging. And don’t hesitate to pick up a little extra. Doesn’t matter if that candy bar wrapper on the forest floor is not yours: pack it out if you can. Ideally, you should come back with more stuff than you left with.
The environmental impact of a big crowd passing through is far larger than small groups. Generally, travel in small groups, don’t make unnecessary noise. Don’t blast your music, don’t shout if unnecessary. This is more respectful for other visitors and far less disturbing for wildlife. Enjoying the outdoors is not a team sport!
Our nature is fragile and it is important to take care of it in the best way possible. By being mindful about our habits, buying or renting quality equipment, and not putting unnecessary strain on the environment, we can leave the outdoors to be enjoyed by many generations to come.
I hope this article gave you some good ideas and inspiration on how you too can become a more sustainable outdoors person, no matter what your outdoor preferences are.
We thank Francis with Chalk Rebels for contributing their knowledge to our resources blog. We couldn’t agree more with every point that is made. Please check out their website as they are making huge developments in the climbing industry creating a sustainable solution with chalk.