As the weather warms, more people are making trips to their local trails and parks. Some family vacations might be almost exclusively camping trips. Remember the saying: “Let’s leave this place a little bit better than we found it?”

People often backpack more than camp, and it does not always feel possible to leave a campsite better than they found it. When people are carrying everything needed to for several days at a time, picking up someone else’s litter no longer seems like my problem.

Keep these tips in mind as you plan your adventure! Simply thinking ahead can help you avoid situations in which it seems necessary to litter or improperly dispose of trash while enjoying trails and parks.

On The Trail

Bring a day pack. Ideally, this is a supportive backpack that can hold wrappers, water bottles, and sunscreen. Carrying a plastic water bottle in your hand increases the likelihood that it will end up on the trail.

Reduce packaging that you bring into the wilderness by organizing your items in advance.

Use zipper pockets. Place wrappers or trash items in secure areas, where the wind will not blow them to the ground.

Create a group awareness. Stewardship of the environment is everybody’s job! Involve kids and adults.

Bring a trash bag and, if you like, gloves or a grabber tool! Evolve your group awareness into a challenge to find and collect litter along the trail.

Nature is not a compost pile—leave no trace!

Take your trash and recycling home! Trash bins in trails and parks can be affected by critters and weather. When possible, do not rely on the trash cans provided. Take your trash home and safely dispose of it.