Chattanooga, Tennessee: As Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, we are lucky to teach people of all personalities, in a variety of different places all over the country - students with different levels of engagement in the outdoors. The beauty of Leave No Trace is that it is relevant and applicable to anyone at any level; whether you are mountaineering or simply walking your dog at the local park - you don’t need to be an outdoor expert to see the benefits of practicing Leave No Trace outside!
However, we often teach youth in urban areas that have very little interaction with wild and natural settings. The ethics of Leave No Trace often don’t make sense in their minds because they see the outdoors as something separate from their urban realities. So how do we bridge the gap between the city and the woods?
A very important piece of practicing Leave No Trace in urban areas is being able to understand the connection we have as a community to our outdoor spaces. Think about what we need to live a happy, and healthy life in the city:
· Clean air to breathe
· Clean water to drink
· Healthy food to eat
· Energy to run the places where we live, learn, and work
Where do these things come from? Air, water, food and energy all come from nature. Without nature, Earth wouldn't be such a lovely home for us to live and play.
MAKING THE CONNECTION BY UNDERSTANDING RESOURCES
Did you know everyday each person throws away about 5 pounds of trash? This adds up to a lot of garbage and wasted materials! Where does all our garbage go? Trash that is not recycled goes to a landfill. Landfills are vast patches of land where trash is taken. The purpose of a landfill is to bury the trash in such a way that it will be isolated from groundwater, will be kept dry, and will not be in contact with air. Watch this video: Where Does My Trash Go?
Recycled goods are products made of earth’s raw materials (wood, metal, etc.). These products can and should be recycled. At a recycling center, materials can be crushed, broken down, and later turned into new cans, bottles, and paper.
Earth's raw materials are finite. This means we only have so much of everything, and eventually it will all get used up. Practicing the 3R’s helps conserve our resources.
Where does our drinking water come from? Water comes from rivers, lakes and streams. Where does litter usually end up when it’s thrown on the ground and not a trashcan? Into our rivers, lakes and streams. Water sources for hundreds of millions of people – are being seriously depleted or dangerously polluted. Approximately 40 percent of the rivers in the U.S. are too polluted for fishing and swimming. Water gives us many things - food, hydration, and energy to make things we use and wear. We are facing dirtier, unsafe water and there is a very big risk of water shortages and scarcity. Watch this video: All Hands on Earth
Leave No Trace means taking simple steps to protect our planet. We can use the Seven Leave No Trace Principles as guidelines to help us reduce, reuse, and recycle our resources whether we are indoors or outdoors. When we use Leave No Trace Ethics, we can redefine the day-to-day choices we make and in turn protect the vital resources we need to live.
Stay tuned for more ideas on bridging the gap between nature and urban settings!
Ninjas for Nature – dani & roland
Leave No Trace’s Dani and Roland Mott are part of the 2014 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Coleman, Hi-Cone, The North Face, REI, Smartwool and Yakima.