A Conversation on Ethics

What does the word 'ethic' mean to you?! The Leave No Trace program teaches skills to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly. More importantly though, Leave No Trace aims to impart an ethic - a compelling outdoor ethic that will hopefully guide those who enjoy the out of doors in making positive decisions. An ethic is defined in many ways. The dictionary lends us this definition: a theory or system of moral values. As Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, we have heard several definitions of the word 'ethic'. Some are more suitable than others and some are completely right on. Here are a few examples from students:

  • A set of guidelines to follow
  • What you do when no one is watching 
  • A driving force
  • A philosophy 
Leave No Trace, as an outdoor ethics program, seeks an observable change in behavior that is due to internal motivations based on a personal ethic. We believe that education is the key that will make a difference around the globe in any setting. However, education alone is not enough to change behavior. Behavioral change needs to come from somewhere deeper. There needs to be an internal ethic driving us to make good decisions about enjoying the outdoors responsibly and following through with our actions. Leave No Trace is more than a set of guidelines - it is a mode of thought, a state of mind, a way of existing in the world where we are making positive decisions to create an environment we wish to live in. It is about carrying out a respect for the things that matter to us, whether it's having quality relationships or packing out our trash, we do them because it creates a more positive existence for us all. It’s not what you did yesterday, it’s what you’re doing tomorrow.
We view Leave No Trace as a spectrum – on one end are individuals with basic Leave No Trace knowledge and on the other end are Leave No Trace gurus who practice religiously and carry out advanced Leave No Trace techniques. As Traveling Trainers, we encourage people to figure out where they fit into the spectrum – where they are  comfortable – and to do what they can to minimize their individual impacts.


A few things about Leave No Trace:

  • Leave No Trace is not about rules and regulations.
  • Leave No Trace is not about right vs. wrong.
  • Leave No Trace is not black and white.
  • Leave No Trace is a framework for making good decisions about how to enjoy the outdoors in the safest and most responsible way possible.


Leave No Trace aims to implement a tangible goal, which is to: prevent the avoidable impacts and to minimize the unavoidable impacts. By doing so we can protect and preserve both natural resources and the quality of the recreational experience. This can also minimize the need for restrictive management activities by land managers.


If everyone did something, even something small, to minimize their impact on the outdoors, the result would be tremendous!


Explore your own personal ethic and protect the places you play!



Ninjas for Nature - dani and roland